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Larry King Live
Is Hillary Clinton Leaving the President Without a First Lady?Aired January 6, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Hillary Rodham Clinton moves into her own White House in Chappaqua, New York. Is she leaving the president without a first lady?
Joining us, one of Mrs. Clinton's new neighbors, Town Supervisor Marion Sinek. Also in New York, syndicated radio talk show host, prominent lawyer Raoul Felder. In Washington, the noted syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne. In San Francisco, CNN political commentator and writer for "The Weekly Standard," Tucker Carlson. And in Los Angeles, one of the best radio talk show hosts in the business, Michael Jackson of KRLA.
And then, earlier this week Brian Peterson was released from a Delaware prison. He'd served 18 months in the manslaughter of his newborn son. The baby's mother, Amy Grossberg, should be released this spring. Too little time for a tragic time?
Joining us in Washington, Joseph Hurley -- he is Peterson's attorney. In Los Angeles, Robert Tanenbaum, Grossberg's attorney. Plus Jeanine Pirro, she is the judge and former district attorney for Westchester County, New York. And famed criminal defense attorney Roy Black.
And they are all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We'll spend a few moments with Marion Sinek. She's the town supervisor for Newcastle, New York. And Chappaqua is within -- is New Castle the county, Marion?
MARION SINEK, NEWCASTLE COUNTY TOWN SUPERVISOR: New Castle is the town. Chappaqua is a hamlet in the town.
KING: Oh, it's a hamlet. I thought those -- never knew those...
SINEK: A hamlet with a school district and a post office.
KING: I didn't know those terms were still around. Has she -- she's registered to vote, has she not?
SINEK: So I hear. And the Westchester County Board of Elections tells us they are registered.
KING: Has the president registered, as well?
SINEK: I believe so.
KING: All right, in New York state does that now make them residents?
KING: They're both residents. Do you know the first lady?
SINEK: They're -- for voting purposes, they are residents.
KING: Do you know the first lady, Marion?
SINEK: I met her once in November. I spoke to her briefly, but I look forward to getting to know her.
KING: What do you make of the commotion?
SINEK: I think people in my town are very enthusiastic about her arrival. And it's exciting to have a president move into your town, obviously. He was shaking hands -- they stopped to shake hands with a lot of people this morning before they left, and people feel very positive, regardless of political affiliation.
KING: But there have to be some complaints, Marion about Secret Service...
SINEK: Oh, sure.
KING: ... and upheaval of daily life.
SINEK: No. in fact the Secret Service has really gone out of its way to try to be considerate of the neighborhood. It's a very small street on which they're now living, and I think that they have to be sensitive to the neighbors.
On the other hand, this is the kind of traffic and tumult that we're not used to in our town, so we have to learn to deal with that.
KING: Marion, will the welcome wagon come visit?
SINEK: If we had one. Actually, we sent them a new residents packet, which every new resident gets. And I think -- I don't know if the neighbors are bringing cookies or anything.
KING: So welcome to the hamlet. Thank you, Marion.
Marion Sinek, the town supervisor for Newcastle New York. Chappaqua is a hamlet in Newcastle.
Now let's meet our panel.
E.J. Dionne, your overall view of this? I mean, what's your view? Here's a White House without a first lady. What do you make of this story? E.J. DIONNE, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think in terms of a White House without the first lady, we'll do just fine. The first lady isn't in the Constitution. We've been without one in the past. I don't think that's the problem. I think the race is very, very difficult. I think if the election were held now, she'd lose. That doesn't mean that's going to happen in the -- in November.
KING: But you see no problem with no lady in the White House since there's no specific duty?
DIONNE: No, I don't think so, in that, you know, there -- that with first ladies, you find that sometimes they're very visible, sometimes they recede. Mrs. Clinton herself receded a great deal for a while after the health care plan went down, and then she came back into public view.
KING: Raoul, do you see any problem with not having a first lady all the time at the White House?
RAOUL FELDER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, no. I mean, I think she did a lot of mischief when she was there. But I think Jeanine Pirro ought to get after him to make him register under Megan's law. You know, Megan's law was named after a victim -- She's laughing. Jeanine is laughing at me -- Megan's law was named after a victim, Megan Kanka. And 49 states have a law like this that says if you're degenerate and you move into the neighborhood, you've got to register. Now, one would...
KING: Are you calling the president of the United States a degenerate?
FELDER: Well, I'm not. But Juanita Broaddrick said he raped her. There's...
KING: But, I mean, you're not, though? You're not?
FELDER: Well, it's an observation. It's a fair comment. There's Miss Arkansas and then the woman he said he had nothing to do with that he gave $750,000 to...
KING: But he's entitled to -- he can live in Chappaqua, can't he, Raoul?
FELDER: Why not? But he should register. Ask the D.A.
KING: Tucker Carlson, what do you make of this story? And do you buy any of the concept that we have a first -- an inactive first lady?
TUCKER CARLSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it seems like a big story. I mean, you know, president's wife leaves him, I mean, that sounds like page one news to me. But it hasn't been. There's been this sort of weird sense that, you know, of course she's going off to New York, when, in fact, she doesn't have to be in New York until, you know, the day before the election. She could, under New York law, check into The Plaza the night before, but she's chose to leave early.
It seems to me sort of another violation of this kind of informal contract that the Clintons had with the public. In 1992, we knew that there were problems with their marriage. They said so on CBS, on "60 Minutes," they had pain in their marriage. And yet they've continued to suck us into this kind of psychodrama again and again and again. And I think one of the reasons there hasn't been a lot of coverage of this is because people just don't want to be sucked into it, don't want to be involved in whatever is going on between them.
KING: And, Michael Jackson in Los Angeles, do you have any qualms about not having a first lady present in the final year of this term?
MICHAEL JACKSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Did we have a first lady present when Mrs. Ford was not well? Did we have a first lady present when Bess Truman was not well? Did we have one when Patricia Nixon was not well? Come on. This is not an elective office. This is a woman who stood by her man and done an amazing job as a first lady. She's respected all over the world. And when things were at their absolute worst, popularity polls showed her to be ahead of the late Mother Teresa.
What in hades do we want? Do we want blood? She'd be an extremely fine senator. Giuliani would be good, too. New York has a wonderful variety to choose from.
KING: So you're saying they've got a very good choice in New York state?
JACKSON: Yes, yes. And choice is the operative word. This woman is right about everything except the death penalty. She's right about health care, about children. She's right about civil rights. She's -- bless you -- she's right about just about everything.
KING: All right, let me get a break and let them go at it.
We'll be back -- we thank Marion for being with us. We'll be back with Raoul Felder, E.J. Dionne, Tucker Carlson and Michael Jackson.
Tomorrow night, the Doles -- Senator Robert Dole and Elizabeth Dole together for the full hour.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be backing up more things and moving more things in the next couple of weeks so that it will be a process. You know, we're not going to be totally moved in and everything in place for a while, but it's a lot of fun for us to be able to do this again for the first time in such a long time, because we, of course, worked very hard in the White House and spent an enormous amount of time and effort trying to keep the White House in good shape and do some additional work that needed to be done there. But it's different when you're doing it in your own home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Raoul Felder, I'm assuming you meant Megan's Law is a joke. But in that regard...
FELDER: Yes, I -- but close, close.
KING: Do you think -- do you agree with Michael Jackson that New York does benefit no matter where you stand, and we know you're for the mayor, by having two pretty good candidates here for the Senate?
FELDER: I don't think you've got two pretty good candidates. And I respect Michael. But Michael said "all the good things she's done."
Michael, what has she done? I don't get it. The things she tried to do, health care, was a disaster. One-seventh of the American economy almost went down the toilet. I don't see what...
DIONNE: And you're quite satisfied with the state of health care in our country at this stage?
FELDER: Not at all, not at all. But, Michael, you said what she's done. She almost was a disaster there. And they hid it. They were able to hide it from the public.
KING: The question -- let's get back to the question. Raoul...
FELDER: What good has she done?
KING: You do not think there are two good candidates?
FELDER: No. I think New York deserves better. I think there are capable people in New York. Rudy Giuliani, like him, don't like him, he has been a wonderful mayor. Everybody knows that New York is a great place to visit, to live in, and he should be promoted or do whatever the devil he was to do. He's earned it.
KING: E.J., you've covered major politicians for a long time. How should she be viewed? We have to yet to judge her as a candidate? How do you view this as a reporter?
DIONNE: Well, I think I agree with Michael Jackson that they are two good candidates. I think they're two good candidates who also have a lot of negatives. And in a funny way, I think Giuliani may be the only person he could beat, and she is the only person he could beat.
DIONNE: Because you have two people who attract a certain strong following, but also attract an awful lot of opponents. When you look at the polls in this race, there are very, very few undecided voters. This whole candidate is going to be played for a very small number of voters.
KING: Does this tell you, an enormous turnout?
DIONNE: I think it will be a big turnout. I think it will have a big African-American turnout. Giuliani has had problems with the African-American community. You'll have a big conservative turnout against Mrs. Clinton. So yes, I think their will be enormous interest in this.
KING: But there are weird things here, Tucker. Apparently, the liberal party will endorse Giuliani, the conservative party will not. Only in New York.
CARLSON: Truly. And I think people get Phd's in, you know, sort of New York election law, et cetera. But I think it's pretty clear that Mrs. Clinton's moving to Chappaqua and the publicity that has come from it can only help Giuliani. I mean, New York mayors have always had a problem with upstate. A lot of resentment toward the city from upstate. The city gets all of our money, et cetera, et cetera. Giuliani will go up there, and people will say, well, you're from the city, and he'll say, well you know, I may not know the population of Schenectady, but at least I'm not Mrs. Clinton. I mean, she is sort of his insurance against being called a carpetbagger, because she really is one.
DIONNE: But you know what the irony is, Tucker, is that I lived in upstate New York a while, and in a lot of ways, upstate New York is much more like Illinois than it is like New York City. And I think you're going to have a very curious dynamic here, where I think Mrs. Clinton is going to run behind normal Democratic voters, especially among Catholics in the city and the suburbs, but I think she has an opportunity to do better upstate than the average Democratic, and that I think is going to be the dynamic in the race. She has to run well upstate to win the race.
KING: How about, Michael, that in major social issues, the two major ones, which would be I guess gun control and abortion, they agree?
JACKSON: They agree absolutely. And this woman has really gone out upon a limb. She has spoken out. I think she can prove further what California has already shown, that a good woman can make a great senator. We got two of them. And I don't think that we're an oddball state, California. I think we're a bellwether state in a variety of ways. We have two women, two senators, both Democrats. I think you need a worthy successor to Pat Moynihan. She would be that.
KING: One at a time.
Raoul, is she way behind?
FELDER: Yes, you know, the polls -- they say to watch the polls like Zogby, that clocks the potential voters, the people who are going to vote. A Democrat of New York in this peculiar kind of system we have must leave the city with 70 percent. If they don't, they pretty well can't get elected. She doesn't make it so far. She has to do pretty well in the suburbs; she's doing not pretty well. She has to do sizably well upstate, and she's doing terrible.
KING: How do we know anything since no one's campaigned yet, in fact, haven't announced yet?
FELDER: Interesting point. Giuliani, I believe, will only benefit by a continuing campaign. He is not as well known, believe it or not, upstate as Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton is a very familiar face.
KING: But we don't know, Tucker, do we, how well she campaigns?
CARLSON: I don't know...
KING: She may be a terrific campaigner. She may be a poor campaigner.
CARLSON: Well, I don't know, I think maybe rule one of running in New York is when Mrs. Arafat accuses the Israelis of killing children, you don't hug her. So she failed that test right away. That's probably evidence that she's not -- look, I think it's admirable that she's running, and I am not beating up on the idea that she's running, but I think that's -- there is evidence that she's not very good at it. It's hard in her defense.
KING: Hold on. Hold on. Should she have jumped up, E.J., and stopped that speech?
DIONNE: I think ideally, from her point of view, she shouldn't have made that trip at all. And in fact, I was talking to a state senator in New York at the time, who said the one thing a candidate for office in the state of New York does not do is appear on a platform with somebody from the PLO or connected to the PLO. But as a campaigner, she got very good reviews when she was campaigning in upstate New York last summer from people who -- obviously her supporters liked her, but a lot of people who were skeptical said that one or one, she's actually very good at that.
KING: So this could be topsy-turvy. She might do, for a Democrat, well upstate, for a Democrat, poor in the city?
DIONNE: Right, partly because of Giuliani being mayor of New York City, because he is pure New York City, and that's part of the reason he is popular in the city, but it could lead him into problems upstate.
KING: Raoul, do you expect a lot of debates?
FELDER: Well, I don't think she's going to debate, because I think this man is a trained debater, prosecutor. He's fought two very tough contests. Don't forget New York is seven to one Democrat, and he's won twice. KING: You think she'll refuse to debate him?
FELDER: I think she'll be foolish if she debates him. If she's very far behind, in desperation, maybe, but I think she's too smart to debate him. By the way, the other test was the FALN, you know, E.J. She did pretty poorly on that, and she flip-flopped; she managed to antagonize everybody in the FALN thing.
KING: Michael, you were going to say, then I'm going to get a break -- Michael.
JACKSON: I was going say, she will debate extremely well. And I think, you know, a disgusting thought from me, and I hesitate to say it, quite frankly.
KING: Say it.
JACKSON: If the president was continuing with his infidelities, if, she would win the election without a campaign. Isn't that a sad thought? At the same time...
KING: On that note, we'll take a break.
JACKSON: At the same time, we're told that if it was possible in this country for man to run for a third term -- you can't, of course -- that he'd win re-election.
KING: This might all be called "go figure."
JACKSON: Go figure.
KING: We'll be right back with our panel after this.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first home we have had since January of 1983, 17 years ago, when we moved back into the governor's mansion in Little Rock. So it's exciting. We're seeing some things we haven't seen since we moved to the White House, and some things we haven't seen in 17 years. We've got a table in there that we bought shortly after we got married, in 1975, that we haven't used in a long time. So we've had a lot of fun, and I've enjoyed it very much.
KING: We're back. We'll get a call or two in.
Tucker Carlson, the people are trying to analyze why President Clinton went to the house last night. Do you think it was just family or larger than that?
CARLSON: Well, it's always larger than that.
KING: No, I mean, they're trying to read things into it.
CARLSON: Well, I don't know. This is a couple that went to a pollster to pick a summer vacation. So I mean, you know, you're not a paranoid if you think that maybe politics intrudes on decisions like this.
I mean, I do think -- I'll admit I have been sucked into the psychodrama. And I do think sort of the undertone here is one of sadness. I mean, the idea that the president is now alone in the White House. His wife has left. Good for her incidentally. And now his vice president is sort of running around the country disowning him, pretending he's never really heard the name Bill Clinton before. And you're left with this kind of solitary, lonely, sad figure, sort of flipping through cable channels by himself and eating pizza. I think it's really kind of depressing to think about.
KING: E.J., you wrote a column back in November that we didn't need a first lady or that Chelsea could be first lady.
DIONNE: Right. I said that there are plenty of parties that she would do just fine at. You know, on Tucker's point about Clinton being all alone, one of the striking things in the presidential campaign is that Gore is starting to move back toward Clinton. It's very striking that he's not now -- he still says, yes, what the president did was reprehensible. But now he is starting to say, but I was right to fight against his impeachment, we've done a lot of things.
I think one of the dynamics of this whole election, both at the presidential level and obviously New York, is whether the Democrats can figure out how to turn Clinton fatigue into Clinton nostalgia. And it may be a hard sell, but I think people may start turning around the longer you get from impeachment.
KING: Raoul, do you know when Rudy is going to officially get in?
FELDER: No, I assume fairly soon. But you know, guys, there's something wrong in this. You have one -- whether you like Rudy or not -- one competent man who wants to be senator. Here's a lady who stuck a pin in a map and says: I want to be senator from this place; and by the way, I have this psychodrama. You know, as E.J. says, there is a psychodrama here. Everybody is sucked into this thing. All the wrong women are supposed to be on her side.
There's something very wrong and maybe even a little sick about this whole situation.
KING: Well, then she obviously won't win then.
FELDER: I don't think she's going to win.
JACKSON: She might win.
KING: Michael said she might win. Let me get a call in.
Port Richey, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hi, good evening, Larry.
CALLER: This is to anyone on your panel. Do you think if Mrs. Clinton should lose this race for the Senate, would she be staying as a resident in the state of New York or moving?
KING: According to all my information she will stay in New York. She always was going to live in New York.
Is that -- Michael, everyone in L.A. told me she told all her friends there that she was going to move -- the president said she was going to move to New York seven years ago.
JACKSON: At the time -- at the time when we were hearing over and over again that the president was going to get into showbiz, was going to be associated with Dreamworks, I think most of us knew that New York was going to be their home. They bought a home. They want to settle down.
FELDER: But Michael, do you think -- do you think that place -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) her to settle down, her and 40 other women. Do you think that she's going to be stuck in a...
JACKSON: Why is it you guys have to do that?
JACKSON: Raoul, you should be above that. All of you should.
FELDER: She did it. Michael, Michael, she did it. He did it. We didn't do it. We're looking at it.
JACKSON: She didn't do anything to hurt you or any one of us in this country.
FELDER: Oh, please. Please. She was an enabler.
JACKSON: Name something. Name anything that the first lady...
FELDER: Let me finish. I'll name it.
FELDER: She was an enabler. She covered up for him. She let it happen. She didn't draw a line. She was a bad example to the women who are brutalized.
(CROSSTALK) JACKSON: You're the self same people who would say if she walked out on him that she had let the country down. You're the same people who say...
FELDER: Don't bet on it.
JACKSON: ... she was the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) behind him, that she was the...
KING: No, but Raoul would have had a client. E.J.?
DIONNE: You know what I think, is that if the -- I think one of the best things that could happen to Mrs. Clinton is if the attacks on the personal level get too sharp. As long as the psychodrama plays out on its own, I think that could hurt her. There is something like Clinton fatigue and tiredness of going through all of this stuff.
KING: But if you keep hurting her personally...
DIONNE: Whereas if people go aggressively against her...
KING: Like the "New York Post."
DIONNE: ... on these issues, not on policy -- people are going to attack on policy -- but if people bring this up in a negative way, I think that will be her best friend.
DIONNE: Yes. There'll be a sympathy...
CARLSON: I mean, people have been remarkably gentle I think. I mean, nobody has mentioned, for instance, that she's living in this very Republican house. I mean, she's bought this enormously expensive house, and nobody's beat up on her for that. I mean, shouldn't she be living in a little apartment or something? A woman of the people, you know? And she busy this -- this mansion in the suburbs.
DIONNE: They're being very gentle and she's running behind. That's my point: is that I think if there is a sharp assault on personal issues, especially linked to the president, that would end up backfiring and helping her.
KING: Let me get a break, and then some more moments on this and then another topic of a different sort but certainly a major question about death and a sentence. We'll go -- we'll be right back with our panel after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) H. CLINTON: We had friends -- we've had a lot of friends helping us. And one of my good friends here who lives nearby came over with her son and brought dinner for us, and then her son helped Bill move some things that needed to be moved. And we had other friends come over who've been helping us.
But mostly what we did was unpack boxes, put things up, try to make decisions about where to hang paintings or move furniture, and make a long list all the things we have to do that aren't done yet that are going to have to be tended to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get an overall view. We have such a short time left,
Raoul, big turnout, a lot of attention. Do you expect a raucous race?
FELDER: Oh, yes. It will be lots of fun, and I don't think anybody is going to talk poorly about it, because -- I just want to say one thing, Larry. I'm sitting here with two very smart people, Mr. Black and Jeanine Pirro. And when Mrs. Clinton said Bill was helping to hang pictures, unpacking, it was hysterical. You would have thought Jackie Mason was here. This was a big joke. I mean, who is going to believe that?
KING: OK, Raoul. E.J.?
DIONNE: Tough race, very negative because most of the undecided voters probably don't like either of them and the only way they're going to persuade them is to persuade them not to vote for the other guy.
KING: Many negatives as positives in this race.
DIONNE: Right. I'm saying that for the undecided voters, there are probably people who aren't crazy about either Giuliani or Mrs. Clinton.
KING: Tucker, what kind of race are we going to see?
CARLSON: And for good reason, I say. I mean, this is not a pair of appealing personalities.
I think it's going to be a race with an enormous number of great "New York Post" headlines. That's what I look forward to.
KING: None of which will be beneficial to her, right?
CARLSON: Ah! They'll be wonderful, though. I mean, I can't even imagine the headlines yet unwritten.
KING: And Michael Jackson, what do you think it's going to be like from 3,000 miles away where you are?
JACKSON: We'll be up close and very personal, or impersonal. I think he is a very successful bully, and I think the more he tries to bully the more it will help her. I think this is her attempt to speak out at last with her own voice for herself. She...
KING: Thank you all very much. Raoul Felder, E.J. Dionne, Tucker Carlson and Michael Jackson.
When we come back, the strange case of Brian Peterson, Amy Grossberg, a dead infant, the sentence they got and what happens now. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. An update now on an upsetting and controversial legal case.
Earlier this week, Brian Peterson walked out of prison after serving 18 months of a two-year sentence. He plead guilty to manslaughter in the 1996 death of his newborn son. The baby's body, you'll remember, was found in a dumpster outside a motel in Newark, Delaware.
The baby's mother, Amy Grossberg, plead guilty to manslaughter too, and she's expected to be released in May.
With me to discuss the punishment and the crime, Joseph Hurley, the attorney for Brian Peterson, now released. He's with us in Washington. In Chicago is -- check me -- in Los Angeles is Robert Tanenbaum, the attorney for Amy Grossberg, who will be released this spring. Judge Jeanine Pirro, the district attorney for Westchester county in New York, is in our studio in New York. And also in New York is famed criminal defense attorney Roy Black. We welcome them all to LARRY KING LIVE.
Joe, your client is out. What is he doing with his life?
JOSEPH HURLEY, BRIAN PETERSON'S ATTORNEY: Well, he's been out about 72 hours now, and he's trying to reassess what he is going to do with his life. Numbness is still there. He's starting to have the realization now that finally that the dream that he's had for the last 18 months has come true.
KING: And Robert, what is -- have you spoken to Amy in jail?
ROBERT TANENBAUM, AMY GROSSBERG'S ATTORNEY: Well, she's doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
KING: And she'll be out in May, right?
KING: Are they friends, or lovers, or a couple anymore, Robert?
TANENBAUM: No, I think that ended with this case, basically. But the issue that you're raising tonight I think would be good to address right at the get-go, and it's the nature of the crime, as you say.
KING: Naturally. But I just want to get caught up on the both of them.
All right, Judge Pirro, did they get a legit sentence for what they did?
JEANINE PIRRO, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y.: Well, certainly the sentence that was imposed was one that was sanctioned by the law, but they could have faced up to 10 years in prison for manslaughter. I think the curious part of this is the fact that for some reason, when a sentence is imposed on a baby or a newborn, historically those sentences are far lower than a sentence that might be imposed for an adult. And I think that we as a society have to look at why it is that we view these sentences as being more acceptable when they're only 18 months, which is what you might get for a petty theft.
KING: And you disagree with that. A murder is a murder, a manslaughter is a manslaughter, a death is a death. Is that what you're saying?
PIRRO: A murder is a murder. I mean, clearly they plead guilty to manslaughter, and that's what they were sentenced to. But the judge could have sentenced them up to 10 years and chose not to.
KING: Roy, what did you make of this...
KING: Hold on, Robert.
Roy, what did you make of this case?
ROY BLACK, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, this is one of those difficult cases to determine what justice is. But you know, Larry, in this country we have become more judgmental and more punitive every year. We think every society problem can be solved by increasing the jail sentences.
You have got to look at what happened here. It's -- just don't -- you say it's a murder is murder, manslaughter is manslaughter. Here's two 18-year-old kids who get into a panic, do something that clearly was reckless and stupid. I mean, what are we going do with them? Put them in jail for the rest of their life? I mean, would that make everybody feel better? I think you have to look at who the people are, and what they did, and why they did it. These two people panicked. They are 18 years old, they were immature. They got what they deserved, probably. KING: Joe, is that why they...
PIRRO: But you know what, it's...
KING: Hold on, hold on, judge.
Joe, is that why they got this light sentence?
HURLEY: You called it a light sentence. I don't agree that it is a light sentence.
KING: Two years for killing a baby?
HURLEY: The sentencing guidelines in Delaware are two and a half -- up to two and a half years. They were sentenced within the guidelines by a very experienced judge.
KING: For killing -- for manslaughter of baby?
HURLEY: Manslaughter, per se.
HURLEY: No differentiation. A human being...
KING: So if they shot someone in a bar, you get two and a half years in Newark, Delaware?
HURLEY: A human being is a human being is a human being, be they a baby, an infant, or an elderly person.
KING: So if I kill someone in Delaware, and it's manslaughter, two and a half years is what I am going to get?
HURLEY: Is the guideline.
KING: Of course, you'll get angry people going to Delaware tonight, Joe.
HURLEY: Well, we have got a lot of angry people there already. And Bob Tanenbaum (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we've got an awful lot of angry people left.
KING: Robert, did you agree with the sentence?
TANENBAUM: No, I didn't agree with the sentence. We understood it, basically, but the reason I didn't agree with it, and the reason that Roy is touching on an important point is, we should stop the bloodletting because most people do not know the facts of this case.
And the facts basically are that Amy didn't kill anybody, and she had a seizure during that delivery. She was suffering from a very serious disease during her pregnancy called pre-eclampsia. It became full-blown eclampsia, which we used to call toxemia pregnancy, an extreme case. She had a seizure during the delivery. She had three seizures thereafter, one in her dorm room and two in the hospital. Brian Peterson graphically described that the very next day, that is, the seizure.
And he said she was out of it. She took no part in the disposal issue. She was totally incoherent. And after these seizures, as she did in her dorm room only 13 hours later, when the paramedics came, she blacked out. So...
KING: Why did she plead guilty?
TANENBAUM: Well, I'll tell you why, Larry. Because if you accept the government's version of this, they charged her with the death penalty for 17 months -- intentional murder. After we went through some hearings in this case, at the 17th month mark, the government then dismissed the intentional murder count.
When I challenged them in court and said tell us where the intentional evidence is -- I formerly ran the homicide bureau in DA's office in New York county, as you well know. I tried a heck of lot of murder cases. Nobody had to ask me to explain where the intentional evidence was.
KING: So why did she...
TANENBAUM: So after 17 months she was charged with -- I'll answer, I am answering your question.
KING: Thank you.
TANENBAUM: For 17 months she was charged with intentional murder and the death penalty. Then she was re-charged with manslaughter. And the bottom line here is that given the nature of the sensational way this case was handled -- that is, the prosecutor going on television six days after this happened, before the autopsy report came in, and saying this is a death penalty case, it was a...
KING: So she...
TANENBAUM: ... first-degree murder -- the sensational way this matter was handled created a blood-thirsty public.
KING: I see.
Judge, do you agree with that?
TANENBAUM: The jury pools were absolutely...
PIRRO: You know, I don't agree with that.
KING: All right.
TANENBAUM: The jury pools were absolutely polluted.
KING: All right, we get the gist of it, Robert. We get the gist. She had to plead guilty.
Judge, do you agree with that? PIRRO: Larry, I don't agree with that at all, and with all due respect to Roy Black, I don't know that this is an issue of panicking because, you know, it's not as though this thing happened overnight. This was a full-term pregnancy. The baby was born. It was born alive. It breathed. And this baby was absolutely beaten to death.
It's one thing to make a mistake or an error in judgment. It is another to use raw force to kill a baby.
TANENBAUM: Yes, but see, that's just not true.
PIRRO: And so what we have to do is...
TANENBAUM: Yes, but that's not true.
HURLEY: Jeanine, you are overlooking...
KING: Hold it. Let...
PIRRO: The baby wasn't killed? There were multiple skull fractures, linear and...
KING: Hold on...
TANENBAUM: They were all post mortem. They were all post mortem.
PIRRO: ... rectal hemorrhaging. No, no, no. The medical examiner...
TANENBAUM: They were all post mortem.
KING: Hold it, hold it, hold it...
PIRRO: ... said this was a homicide, and it was not post mortem.
TANENBAUM: You don't know...
KING: Joe Hurley represents -- he represents Brian. What is your -- who -- what happened here?
HURLEY: Well, I got to begin by saying I got to get my fee back, because Bob just said the reason it changed from a death penalty was because he stood up in court, so I'll take care of that after tonight.
What happened here is -- and I hate to do this, but I finally in the new millennium got to agree with Bob Tanenbaum on something. The people don't know the facts. If they knew the true facts, they would say, you mean they got two years with a still-born baby being born? The true facts that are undisputed is that baby would not have survived.
KING: So why are you and Tanenbaum at odds over anything then? HURLEY: Oh, He and I have a philosophical difference about allocating blame. I think Bob likes to say my client sold his soul to the devil, and I could say that his client seems to think that she's a fairy-tale princess who did nothing wrong.
KING: You are saying that neither of them did anything wrong?
HURLEY: No, they did things wrong. They did things that were irresponsible. They had no business going to a motel room without proper medical care. He had no business trying to deliver a baby. But fate intervened, and a blue, still-born baby came out.
KING: And that is unquestioned?
KING: OK, Roy...
PIRRO: It was contradicted by the pathology.
BLACK: Larry, I just wanted to say, first of all, it is pretty obvious why there was a severance between the defendants in that case.
But to get back to what Jeanine says, it is a well-known syndrome -- it's well-known, recognized in psychology -- that young girls, particularly teenagers, who get pregnant, are afraid to tell their parents, afraid to tell teachers, afraid to tell everybody. They're worried about the shame of it. They cover it up, and then all of a sudden, you know, they hide it, and then suddenly this baby comes and they panic.
This is not like a premeditated murder, sitting around planning it. I mean, you could make it try to sound horrible, but these are immature kids who did incredibly stupid and reckless things. And let me tell you something, going to the state penitentiary is plenty of punishment. And I don't think giving them life imprisonment or threatening them with the death penalty is going stop teenage girls from doing and panicking like this again.
PIRRO: You know, but...
KING: All right, we'll have the Judge respond. Let me get a break, and then Judge Pirro, who is also district attorney of Westchester County, will respond. And Mr. Tanenbaum -- who is also, by the way, a pretty good novelist -- will respond as well. And I'll just sort of moderate.
We'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN PETERSON: I want everyone to know how sorry I am for my part in the tragic events that occurred three years ago. I am very happy to be home with my family and loved ones, and I look forward to resuming my life. I cannot adequately express my appreciation for the sympathy and support I received from so many people during these trying times. I can assure everyone that I will reward their confidence in me, and make them proud of me in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before Judge Pirro responds, it is true, is it not, Mr. Hurley, that your client, Mr. Peterson, did say that Miss Grossberg was saying "get rid of it," right?
HURLEY: That is correct. After he informed her the baby was not moving and making no sounds and was blue, she said get rid of it, get rid of it.
KING: There is some question as to whether the baby was born blue.
HURLEY: No question in my mind.
KING: No question in your mind. OK, why did he get less of a sentence?
HURLEY: I use the acronym "B.A.D." I talked to the prosecution so that it wouldn't be my speculation. "B.A.D." starts off with Barbara Waters, where Amy talked, and she came across as insincere and not accepting responsibility.
"A" is abortion. She had a chance at redemption. Two times Brian took her to get an abortion, she refused.
"D" is deception. She had a vaccination in the summer when she was five months pregnant and said that she was not pregnant.
TANENBAUM: That's not the case.
KING: Robert, do you disclaim that?
TANENBAUM: You know, that's just not the case, Larry. The reason why...
KING: None of that is true what he just said?
TANENBAUM: No. The reason why Brian Peterson -- you asked me before why I disagree with the distinguished counsel Mr. Hurley -- the reason why Brian Peterson got a break in this case is because he lied. He said, all of a sudden, 17 months after the fact that now Amy said, get rid of it. He never -- she never said that.
He said to his lawyer on the day after, on November 13th -- the baby was born in the early morning hours of November 12. He said to his lawyer in Gettysburg, in Adams County jail, that Amy was having a seizure. He said to the expert doctor in the case, who is a defense doctor, he said to her -- to him, rather, that Amy was having a seizure, she was out of it, she never touched the baby, she never saw the baby.
KING: So he lied? TANENBAUM: He lied. He lied to save his neck. That's what the story is, and that's why he was rewarded because they had no case. And one thing that's important to understand in this case, the fractures to the skull were postmortem. There was no brain swelling in this case. There were no blood in the fracture lines. So to hear people, particularly a district attorney of a county where I love, where I was brought up, in Westchester, to pontificate on a case where she has absolutely no knowledge -- as a matter of fact, the government recognized the fact that the baby's skull cracked after Mr. Peterson placed it in the dumpster because of the fact that when they removed this case from murder in the first degree down to manslaughter, they accepted Peterson's version...
KING: All right.
TANENBAUM: ... which was there was no plan, he didn't go there to hurt anyone, and that baby's skull cracked in the dumpster.
KING: All right, let Judge -- Judge Pirro...
PIRRO: Three things...
KING: ... are you speaking about something you don't know anything about or go?
PIRRO: Three things, Larry. A pathologist has issued an autopsy report that said that this death was a homicide. It doesn't matter if you're from Westchester or from Los Angeles. The pathologist said that this baby died of multiple trauma, blunt force trauma, linear and depressed skull fractures, injury to the brain, as well as retinal hemorrhaging.
Now let's talk for a moment. When you talk about a baby, babies are born with very soft skulls so that they can come through the mother's womb. As we age, our bones become more brittle. And so to fracture a baby's skull is an enormously powerful thing to do, and it requires tremendous force. That's number one.
TANENBAUM: The government acceded -- the government admitted...
PIRRO: Number two -- no...
TANENBAUM: that they didn't do it.
PIRRO: Number two...
TANENBAUM: I don't know why you keep saying that. The government...
PIRRO: Number two is that these defendants...
TANENBAUM: The prosecution in Delaware said they didn't do it.
PIRRO: May I finish, Larry?
KING: One at a time, one at a time -- Judge. TANENBAUM: Incredible.
PIRRO: Number two is that the -- these two defendants, when they pled guilty to manslaughter, admitted that they lied and admitted that...
TANENBAUM: That's not true.
PIRRO: ... under the statute in Delaware, that they recklessly caused the death with cruel, wicked and depraved indifference to human life.
TANENBAUM: They never said that.
PIRRO: That is the Delaware statute.
And number three...
TANENBAUM: They never said that. Why do you say this on television? You have absolutely no knowledge.
PIRRO: Number three, their conviction...
KING: Both lawyers are saying no to that.
PIRRO: Their conviction to manslaughter and their plea of guilty is a matter of record. The judge could not have sentenced them to states prison for manslaughter...
KING: All right, but Judge, can you accept the fact...
PIRRO: But let me finish my third point.
KING: ... that Robert Tanenbaum said they had no course, with all the attention it was getting, to plead guilty to manslaughter.
PIRRO: They had no course? If they didn't commit murder...
KING: They had no other course.
PIRRO: If they didn't commit murder, they shouldn't have plead guilty to...
TANENBAUM: They didn't commit murder.
PIRRO: If they didn't commit manslaughter, they shouldn't have plead guilty to manslaughter. But I think that there's a...
TANENBAUM: The government dismissed the murder count.
PIRRO: ... there a whole other issue here. And that is that there is a certain amount of sympathy that we feel for these young people, because they were worried about telling their parents. What kind of a society do we live in where kids are more worried about telling their parents that someone is pregnant than they are in killing a baby? Why do these babies have to die? Why do they go to a motel? Why didn't they go to a hospital? Why couldn't the baby have been left on the stops of an agency that would have cared for it...
KING: Isn't that fair questions, Joe. Joseph, that's fair, isn't that fair?
HURLEY: Those are fair questions. Can I say something I think is kind of important? I'm not a famed lawyer -- I didn't get identified as that -- I'm not a Hollywood lawyer and I'm not a judge. But I do know what it means to call an a person liar or the president a degenerate. And that means that you have to know what went on. Tanenbaum was not in that room. Amy changes lawyers like people change dirty underwear. He was the sixth or seventh change. He has no idea what happened there.
With all due respect to Her Honor, she's misquoted the law.
Roy Black, I know why he's famed: because he knows he doesn't know the facts and he sits back until he knows what the facts are. And when he can give it, he gives it.
KING: You're against all of them, right?
HURLEY: Roy, next time call me "famed Joe Hurley," please.
BLACK: (OFF-MIKE) you didn't have a trial in this case. It would have been a heck of a trial between all of these lawyers.
KING: We'll be back with four people -- nobody likes each other. I love this panel.
Don't go away.
KING: Judge Pirro, Joseph Hurley tells me depraved indifference was not in the charge.
PIRRO: The Delaware statute that they plead guilty to was reckless manslaughter. And they admitted that they caused the death of this baby. Now, if you want to draw the distinctions between intentional and depraved, we can do that.
PIRRO: But the statute in Delaware is very clear on that.
KING: All right. Roy...
BLACK: Larry, let me...
KING: Roy, shouldn't people be punished for doing way they did?
BLACK: Well, I certainly think there has to be some...
KING: Should they be punished?
BLACK: ... some punishment. You know, Joe makes a point, but I think what we have to recognize, there was never a trial in this case.
BLACK: It's very hard for us to know a lot of the facts because they were never played out in court. You know, the defense is going to say certain facts, the prosecution others. And between the two defendants, there's going to be a difference of fact. So it's very hard for us to agree on any particular set of facts.
But my point is, accepting that what they did is reckless and stupid, and they've caused, of course caused the death, the question is, what kind of punishment is appropriate here?
BLACK: These two kids I think certainly have been adequately punished. Their lives have been substantially changed. And, you know, everybody says, you know, it's a baby that's dead and it's serious. And I disagree with the lawyers, where they say -- or Jean says there's sympathy for these two kids. I don't think there's any sympathy at all. They're going to be living with this for the rest of their lives. So I think there's a lot of punishment here, but we have to recognize that these were two immature kids who did something reckless but stupid because of their immaturity and we have to punish them accordingly.
KING: Will both -- Robert, will you agree what he just said?
TANENBAUM: No. I'm not going to disagree with Roy Black. He's a top-notch guy.
KING: OK. Are you going to disagree, Joseph?
HURLEY: I'm not going to disagree with Bob Tanenbaum. No, I don't disagree at all.
TANENBAUM: You should. You have already.
Larry, if I could just have a quick chance here to get in, and that is Joe Hurley says how do I know what happened in that room, why do I say that. It was clear that Peterson said she was having a seizure. Because when Peterson spoke to his lawyer and we got this information, it was produced in court, there were third parties present. And the lawyer indicated that right away Peterson said Amy was having a seizure and she couldn't respond and she had nothing to do with the disposal issue.
At the same time he was saying that -- just a minute, Larry. This is important. At the same time he was saying that, Amy's roommate was being interviewed by the police and she had had -- Amy had had a seizure in that room in front of the roommate. And the roommate was describing the seizure exactly as Peterson was describing the seizure in Gettysburg. The roommate was in Wilmington.
So unless our friend Mr. Peterson, Mr. Hurley's client, had a crystal ball and was able to forecast the future, we know that he was telling the truth to his lawyer. That's how we know what happened inside that room.
KING: Joe Hurley, Joe, did he get a fair sentence, in your opinion, for what happened? Was this fair to serve 2 1/2, two years?
HURLEY: Well, I'll answer you yes and I'll tell you I'm also kind of biased because I've got a judge that I know is sitting there that I'm going to face for the next 15 years. And damn if I'm going to say it's unfair. It is a fair sentence but it is a stern sentence.
KING: Robert, was it fair? Based on what we know.
TANENBAUM: The whole proceeding against Amy was unfair.
KING: She should not have done anytime?
TANENBAUM: Because she didn't kill anybody. That's the key issue here.
KING: OK. All right.
Jeanine -- Judge Pirro, should it have been more?
PIRRO: Well, it...
KING: Simply put, should it have been more?
PIRRO: ... certainly could have been more under the statute. It could have been more under the statute. But I think that the question is answered with another question.
If this were not a newborn baby and if it were an adult who was killed and someone served 18 months, would you think that was enough?
KING: We'll have some final thoughts from each of our members of the panel. The Doles tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Cleveland, hello.
CALLER: Yes. I have a question. This is for Roy Black. I would just like to know where do we draw the line between a scared girl and a child killer.
KING: All right. Where do you draw the line, Roy?
BLACK: Well, that's why we have judges and juries to draw that line. You know, it's like if you get -- if you're in a car and you have an accident, someone gets killed, you don't get punished. If you're drunk, it's manslaughter. You get punished for that. If you intend to kill them, you know, it's first-degree murder. So it's not the act -- it's not the final result that makes a difference. It depends on your state of mind.
We punish people for the evil state of their minds. I don't think these kids were evil.
KING: She was afraid of her mother, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very.
KING: Philadelphia, hello? Philadelphia, are you there?
Oh, Phoenix, I'm sorry. Go ahead.
KING: Go ahead, Phoenix.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Is there any evidence that the couple had intended to bring the baby home by bringing diapers, food and clothing with them?
TANENBAUM: There was -- the evidence in the case is that when they went into that motel -- and the government has accepted this version; they accepted Peterson as their witness -- that there was no plan to hurt anybody, there was no plan to...
KING: The question was did they bring diapers and food...
TANENBAUM: No, they did not.
KING: They did not.
HURLEY: The flip side of that coin is Brian Peterson registered in the motel without having to produce identification using the name Brian Peterson and writing down his tag number.
KING: So he honestly registered, right?
HURLEY: Honestly registered. Could have given a fake name and phony tag number. Nobody checked it. He checked in and registered. If he was going to go in there to hurt somebody, he's got to be a pretty stupid person, and he's not stupid.
KING: Judge Pirro and as the district attorney of Westchester County, with what you know what would have your sentence have been?
PIRRO: You know, it's very hard for me to sit here and judge a case that I am not intimately familiar with.
KING: But you have been.
PIRRO: No, no, no. I -- there are public documents, the autopsy report. The plea of guilty to manslaughter is public. The fact that there was a death is public.
PIRRO: You know, about the facts and circumstances, I can't tell you off the cuff. What I can tell you is that the judge was warranted in sentencing up to 10 years on a case on these particular facts. And the purpose of punishment is to deter both the specific individual as well as the general public, and the message that -- one of the purposes of punishment. And the message that's here is if the baby is young enough, then you can kill it instead of taking it somewhere.
We have got to communicate with our children that there are other options, that...
TANENBAUM: You really think that the judge...
PIRRO: ... these babies, if they are born, that they can be adopted by people who...
TANENBAUM: You really think that this tough judge in Delaware willy-nilly just gave them a light sentence because he didn't understand the facts of this case.
TANENBAUM: How absurd is that?
PIRRO: No. I'm saying a life sentence was not available. It was 10 years...
TANENBAUM: No, it's not a light sentence.
PIRRO: ... if you want to talk about that on the manslaughter.
TANENBAUM: Do you think that this tough judge -- the judge in this case was president judge of the court in Delaware. This man is a well-respected, very tough...
PIRRO: That's wonderful, but that's not the point.
TANENBAUM: Well, the point is he's a very tough judge.
PIRRO: I'm sure. What I'm saying is...
TANENBAUM: He knew the facts of the case. You don't know the facts of the case.
PIRRO: ... the law permits someone...
TANENBAUM: And he gave what he thought...
PIRRO: ... who kills...
TANENBAUM: ... was a fair sentence. KING: OK.
PIRRO: I'm sure he thought it was fair. But when you have...
TANENBAUM: He thought it was fair. He's a very tough judge.
PIRRO: ... raw force where a child is violently beaten to death...
TANENBAUM: That didn't happen. You won't accept the facts.
PIRRO: ... you have to look at the facts of the murder itself.
TANENBAUM: It's unfortunate that you don't accept the facts that the government accepted.
PIRRO: I accept their plea of guilty to it.
TANENBAUM: They did not -- but they didn't plead guilty to beating the baby to death.
PIRRO: Did they plead guilty or did they not? Did they plead guilty to manslaughter?
TANENBAUM: You remember what -- you said before...
KING: Join us -- thank you all very much. We're out of time. Join us next week for another edition of "The Practice."
Joseph Hurley, Robert Tanenbaum, Judge Jeanine Pirro, and our old friend Roy Black, and they're all famous. OK? That'll cover it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
KING: Tomorrow night, Senator Dole, Senator Robert Dole, and Elizabeth Dole. Elizabeth has endorsed George W. Bush. What about Robert? They'll be here together.
Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND." I'm Larry King in Washington. Thanks for joining us and good-night.
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