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Larry King Live
David Letterman Undergoes Emergency Heart Surgery; William Ginsburg Discusses His Defense of Monica LewinskyAired January 14, 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, Monica Lewinsky's ex-lawyer, a key and very controversial player in the Clinton sex scandal: William Ginsburg, joins us, and he'll take your calls.
And first, emergency heart surgery for David Letterman. We'll talk with the man who did the procedure, Dr. Wayne Isom, chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at New York's Cornell Center.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Our friend David Letterman had quintuple bypass surgery today at New York Presbyterian Hospital. The surgeon who performed that operation also did yours truly, on a personal note, 13 years ago. He is Dr. Wayne Isom and he's chairman of the department.
How did David do, Wayne?
DR. WAYNE ISOM, THE NEW YORK MEDICAL HOSPITAL CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER: He did just fine. It went well.
KING: All right, it was quintuple, the same I said, right?
ISOM: Yes, sir.
KING: Tell me a little about the quintuple procedure? What do you -- does that mean five arteries are blocked?
ISOM: Well actually, everybody has three vessels supplying the heart, but no two people look the same, and just like everybody has got two eyes, mouth, nose, two ears, but they don't look the same. So their vessels look different, too, and some folks have two or three branches off of one major vessel. So you may have a double, or triple, or quadruple, or five or six. So it just depends on where the obstructions are.
In yours, you had blockages in all three in yours, and you had some other blockage, too.
KING: So you did a five. And it was five done today, too, right?
ISOM: Yes, sir.
KING: That is not out of the ordinary, is it?
KING: How many can you do? How many bypasses can you do?
ISOM: Oh, I guess you can -- I think I've done as many as eight. Ordinarily, four or five will suffice for most of the circulation.
KING: Now discuss how this was picked up. David taped a show for broadcast tonight. Regis Philbin his guest. Let's show you what he said on that show, which will air later tonight on "The Late Show" -- Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: I've got to go have one of these angiograms things.
REGIS PHILBIN, ENTERTAINER: No kidding.
LETTERMAN: That's right.
PHILBIN: Well, that's the best thing that you could do.
LETTERMAN: Well, it's a lifesaver, you know what I mean?
PHILBIN: You know, I had it about five or six years ago. I...
LETTERMAN: Is it scary? Were you scared?
PHILBIN: I was scared, yes.
LETTERMAN: Because they take a thing, Regis, they go right up inside your...
PHILBIN: In your groin muscle.
PHILBIN: They run it right up your groin.
LETTERMAN: Right, very close to your deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I remember when I had my angiogram. By the way, their bark is much worse than the bite. Nothing happens to them. And as all know, David is a famed hypochondriac. After my surgery, I was on his show. It was a riotous night.
But if you're doing an angiogram, you know there's trouble, isn't that true, doctor?
ISOM: Not necessarily, but somewhere around 10 or 15 percent of them are normal, depending on what the test show beforehand, so not all of them are positive. But there's usually some indications, either chest pain, or changes in EKG or exercise test that make you go ahead and do angiogram.
KING: Well we're all interested in David, and we're interested in also in protecting client privacy, et cetera. Did he handle it well? What was his emotional well-being, et cetera?
ISOM: Well, he slept most of the time I saw him.
KING: I mean, but you get to talk to him before the surgery?
ISOM: Yes, a little bit.
KING: Now you did me, you did Walter Cronkite, you did Jack Parr. I assumed you informed him of that.
ISOM: Yes, sure did.
KING: Maybe there's something contagious about television.
How routine is this? How many bypasses were done, do you think, in America today?
ISOM: Oh, there is somewhere around 250,000 a year being done. There is around 20,000 a year in New York, 18,000 to 20,000 in New York State alone. But across the country, there's probably a total of about 250.
KING: Anything much different in what happened with him today as what happened with me 13 years ago? I mean, are there new procedures in the procedure?
ISOM: There's some newer procedures and some newer techniques, but it's basically the same -- the protecting the heart, the magnification during the procedure, when you're sewing the vessels together. They're basically the same. There are some other things that are going on with lasers and gene therapy, things like that, that are sort of on the horizon, but basically, this is pretty standard right now.
KING: Do you think some day this surgery will not be necessary?
ISOM: Oh, I sure think so. You bet, I think so.
KING: You mean, they'll do it with lasers or genes.
ISOM: That or either with a small incision in the chest or a little tube goes up inside the chest and, like you have teeth filled, and go home that afternoon.
KING: Now I went home, as I remember, in eight days. I was back on the air in four weeks. The spokesperson for David said that he's resting comfortably and expected to return home in a short while. Is a week about right, the same as me?
ISOM: Yes, it's about right. It's about a week, plus or minus two or three days, something like that; it's about standard. Patients are going home a little bit earlier now than they were even when you were in the hospital.
KING: And how about return to work?
ISOM: Usually, I recommend don't make any professional or social commitments that you can't break for at least three weeks from time of surgery. Your heart is in better shape than it's been in for years, but your stamina is decreased, so it depends on what kind of work you're doing. If you're going to the job and working an hour a night like you are, you might be able to come back to work in two weeks.
KING: No pressure, easy job.
How important is attitude?
ISOM: It's real important. I think a positive attitude going into the surgery, and deciding, OK, I'm going to get well, it's very, very important.
KING: Now one thing I want to clear up. It said "emergency." Does that mean they didn't expect to do surgery and saw something that they had to do right away? I can only relate to -- you're my doctor, so we have told public that. When I had it, we scheduled it for a month from the time they told me I needed it.
ISOM: Yes, sometimes blockages are more severe than you anticipate. If the blockages are more severe than you anticipate, than you usually will go ahead and do the operation fairly quickly.
KING: And do you give the patient a choice? I mean, he could have said no, right?
ISOM: You bet. I always do. There is always a choice.
KING: And knowing you, were you very confident going in?
ISOM: Yes, sir. Always confident.
KING: And finally, how's he doing, Wayne? I mean, what's the prognosis? Should he be returning to complete health, back on air and lead a normal life?
ISOM: I think it's very good, just like yours.
KING: Thank you very much, Dr. Isom.
ISOM: Let me say one thing, Larry. The last time I was on your show, you asked about the team and how important team was, and I went through everybody that was important on the team except I missed the cardiac anesthesiologist. They are just as important as the surgeon. I wanted Butch Thomas to hear that, because I work with him every day, and he's got to know that.
KING: And surgery like this, they're actually cooling the body down, right?
ISOM: Right. KING: And the anesthesiologist, a mistakes from him or her, and you've got major problems, right?
ISOM: Sure, that's right.
KING: And you keep your team together, right? In other words, when you do surgery, it's your same team all the time.
KING: Thanks very much, Wayne.
ISOM: OK, thank you.
KING: Good seeing you.
ISOM: Good seeing you.
KING: Dr. Wayne Isom, he was the subject of a front-page article in "The New York Times Magazine." He's chairman of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at Cornell Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital. He did the surgery on David Letterman today.
We here at CNN extend all of our best wishes to David, and it just happened that we had the same surgeon, the same hospital -- a great guy.
We'll be back with Bill Ginsburg.
Don't go away.
KING: He's back. It's a great pleasure to welcome William Ginsburg, the former attorney for Monica Lewinsky, who became world famous during the early stages of this saga. Mr. Ginsburg is now with the big firm of Cotkin Collins & Ginsburg here in downtown Los Angeles. It's his first television appearance since all this.
How have you handled leaving a case? What was that like?
WILLIAM GINSBURG, FORMER LEWINSKY ATTORNEY: It was like leaving any other case.
KING: You've had it before.
GINSBURG: I've had it before. You move on with your life, you move on with your practice, and you do what has to be done to take care of your present load of clients, which is what I've done.
KING: How did you handle emotional rough going over, though, that you got, Bill?
GINSBURG: Well, it was tough. It was toughest on my family, Larry. And I personally handled it by getting some therapy and working out... KING: Really.
GINSBURG: ... yes -- some of the disappointments that I had in realizing how powerful the media is today and how things can become so convoluted. On the other hand, I did move on. And since I've been back, I've tried over 12 jury trials throughout the United States, and I've done well.
KING: In retrospect, the therapy helped?
GINSBURG: Very much so.
KING: What -- where did you go wrong? What did you read wrong?
GINSBURG: I don't think I read anything wrong. Frankly...
KING: There's nothing you would you have done differently?
GINSBURG: Nothing I would have done differently.
GINSBURG: Yes, that's right. I think that the strategy that we had made sense. We either were going to cut an early deal for immunity for Monica, or we were going to wait until enough time had passed so that there was no chance that they could do to Monica what they had done to Hubbell, Hale and McDougal: promise them immunity, when they don't tell them what they want to hear, then revoke immunity, indict them and continue to put pressure on them. In fact, what is it that Susan McDougal, Web Hubbell and David Hale all have in common? They were all given immunity, and they were all indicted, and they were all put in jail.
KING: So that was fear you had to deal with?
KING: So there's nothing you would have done differently?
KING: But you needed the therapy for what?
GINSBURG: Just in order to bring myself down. I was dripping adrenaline. This thing was the fastest moving, highest paced thing I had ever done. I've been in the media before with various cases, but nothing like this, and I needed to just unwind, because I was, like Monica, a victim of press pressure for almost six months.
KING: What was it like leaving? Explain that the ending days? How did this decision come about?
GINSBURG: Well, the decision came about as a result of some differences that I had with my client, which I can't discuss.
KING: Your client being her father or her? GINSBURG: Her. Because, of the privilege I can't discuss it. But my words to her were: If we are in disagreement, then you have to find other counsel. And indeed, she did. And that's the way a lawyer should handle a departure.
KING: The disagreement was strategic?
GINSBURG: I just won't discuss it.
KING: OK. She writes about you, though. Have you read her book?
GINSBURG: I certainly have.
KING: OK, she says about you -- I will quote from "Monica's Story" -- "He saw himself as a surrogate father. He never understood the depth of feelings for the president or the way in which his own inappropriate and often sexual comments added to her private pain and public humiliation." That's the writer, Andrew Morton, quoting Monica, in a sense, about you.
How did you react to that?
GINSBURG: Well, I did feel that I was a surrogate father, having known her since she was very little. And I did feel like I was Dr. Lewinsky's representative, Bernie Lewinsky's representative, with his daughter. Whether or not I felt the depth of emotion that Andrew Morton describes, something left to discuss with Andrew Morton, because I felt significant emotion, and whether or not it was deep enough for Andrew Morton remains to be seen.
KING: Do you think your client loved the president?
GINSBURG: I have no idea. You'd have to ask her.
KING: OK. "He maintained that he had" -- this is Morton writing -- "that he had kissed her inner thighs when she was just six days old, even though in reality, he didn't meet her until she was in her early 20s."
GINSBURG: That's just not true. The kissing of inner thighs is hyperbole. It's saying how much I loved her as a child.
KING: I know that, obviously, but he said you didn't know her as a child.
GINSBURG: That's just not true. And there's nothing more I can say about that. I new Bernie Lewinsky when he was married to Marsha. We had dinner at their home. We were close personal friends. Monica was just a baby when I first met them.
KING: How about the general charges that you were too public, that you enjoyed the spotlight, and that you were the -- one morning, I think you did every Sunday show.
GINSBURG: Well, let's see I've heard that described as media hound, I've heard it described as megalomaniac. I've heard it described on your show last night as acting like a horse's ass. But no matter how you say it, in the next breath if the question is asked, everyone has to say the following: All of the attention was diverted from Monica. She was never indicted, she was never questioned by Starr or his people while I was on the job, she was never brought before the grand jury and nothing ever happened to her while I was protecting her.
So although some people may think I overdid it with the media, the fact of the matter is, is that that's all rhetoric. The facts are, is that we protected her and diverted all of the attention from her to me and to others, so that the press was more interested in my goings-on than hers.
KING: That was by design?
GINSBURG: By design.
KING: We'll be right back with William Ginsburg. We'll be taking your phone calls. He's our guest the rest of the way on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: Jeffrey Toobin's new book us is out, and you said you watched last night. About you, he says, "Melodrama suited Ginsburg. Because of his ubiquity on the airwaves, Ginsburg made the transformation from conscientious advocates to national joke faster than almost anyone in history."
How do you react hearing something like that?
GINSBURG: I repeat what I said earlier. That's the rhetoric. The facts are that we were successful in bringing to the attention of this country the danger of Ken Starr, and the position he held and how he was executing his job, and we protected Monica perfectly.
KING: In fairness, he also says, "He -- meaning you -- "did a better job for his client than he was generally given credit for." He also writes, "As should have been apparent to everyone, but especially her lawyers, the 'Vanity Fair' photo extravaganza was a terrible idea. The Monica before the camera reveled in her notoriety and her sexuality." In retrospect, was that a mistake?
GINSBURG: No, it was not a mistake.
KING: Why that?
GINSBURG: The only thing that I can tell you without violating any privileges, is that it was necessary, to do that at that time, and it was recognized by her parents, her stepmother and by everyone involved in the case that it was necessary to do that.
KING: For her own good. GINSBURG: For her own good, that I will tell you.
KING: Last night, Mr. Bittman, who was one of the top aides to the independent prosecutor, was a guest. Here is some of what he said about you -- watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB BITTMAN, FORMER DEPUTY INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: We really wanted a deal with Monica Lewinsky. But Larry, you have to remember -- and this, the point is made actually in Jeff's book extensively about Bill Ginsburg and about how untrustworthy he was, and about how he not only lied to us but he also lied to the media. He also made numerous disparaging statements about his own client in the media.
And the question for us was -- including by the way, one of the things that Jeff says is that the Office of Independent Counsel would have gotten the dress. Well, if you remember back then, and I'm sure Jeff remembers this, Bill Ginsburg said on national TV that there was no dress. So how were we to trust this person?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GINSBURG: Early on in the investigation, Mr. Bittman assumes that I knew something about a dress, when I denied knowing anything about a dress.
Again, I don't like ad hominem attacks, but coming from Bob Bittman, the word untrustworthy takes on a new meaning. When the practice and pattern of an office of independent counsel is to lull people into believing they have immunity, talk to them, then tell them they didn't get what they wanted, proceed to indict them, convict them, put them in jail --that was the untrustworthy.
KING: But he said you lied to them.
GINSBURG: Oh, I never lied to them, not one single time. That is just not true.
KING: Is it true that you are not going give immunity -- if you don't trust the lawyer or the client, who you are giving immunity to?
GINSBURG: Absolutely not true. That...
KING: I mean, people give immunity all the time to people they don't trust?
GINSBURG: That is a perfect example of the philosophy of the office of the independent counsel in this investigation. It was damn the reality, we have a one-witness case, damn the reality. Let's divert our efforts and make Ginsburg the enemy.
That makes no sense. As Jeff quite correctly points out in his book, if they had given us the immunity that they offered, negotiated, and confirmed on February the 1st, then there might have been some real juxtaposition between the president's story and reality.
KING: Is the immunity deal you requested -- they said they never agreed to -- did they agree to ti?
GINSBURG: Well, of course they did
KING: He is lying?
GINSBURG: In fact, Jeff noted in his book, to his credit, that every U.S. attorney in the country will confirm to you that when you send out a written offer of immunity on Department of Justice letterhead, or Office of Independent Counsel letterhead, and request that it be accepted, that the signature of the client and the lawyer is indeed binding. And moreover, he notes quite correctly that Udolf and Emmick, who had supported it and who had made the offer to me...
KING: The independent counsel?
GINSBURG: ... fought -- they were part of the independent counsel's office -- fought for their honor, and said, look I have given this man my word, I have made him an offer, and By God, I want it honored.
KING: Was the offer they eventually took the same one you gave?
GINSBURG: Identical to the letter.
GINSBURG: To the letter.
KING: They could have had six months, no question about it?
GINSBURG: That's right.
KING: Six months prior she would not have lied to them?
GINSBURG: That's right. They wanted her to say that the president of the United States obstructed justice. Obviously, she never said that -- again, read the proffer -- and she stuck to her guns. And by God, that is what -- where they were six months later.
KING: Back with more of William Ginsburg, his first appearance since all of this. We'll be taking your calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LARRY KING LIVE, JANUARY 13, 2000)
KEN STARR, INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: She had a lawyer, malpractice lawyer from Los Angeles. He would not let us sit down with Monica Lewinsky. Said here, here is the deal, here is a written proffer. And we were entirely uncomfortable with that. It would have been, you know, perhaps never -- I'm not saying it is completely unheard of, but it was very odd. Why can't we talk? Why can't we look at the individual, and come to assess? Because the key point is, do we think this individual is telling the truth? (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We are back with Bill Ginsburg. We showed sound bite going out when Ken Starr was on this show. He said you were a lawyer who handles cases involving medical malpractice, implying you were out of your league, and that you would not let your client sit down with them, so why should they give you a deal without being able to talk to the client?
GINSBURG: Well, let's comment on that several ways, and relate it back to the clip. First of all, I find it interesting that he comments on what is odd, when indeed he never has been a prosecutor, he has never tried a criminal case. He has never had a criminal case tried before him because he was never a trial judge, and he did not participate in any of the discussions or negotiations. So what is odd to Mr. Starr is not odd to me.
KING: He was never a part of the discussions?
GINSBURG: Secondly, his staff, frankly, had never done anything like this involving the standard of proof, the burden that is necessary under the Constitution for convicting a president of an impeachable offense.
Third of all, I don't know why they keep having to hide behind the concept that I do health care and corporate work. In fact, I'm a longtime member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. I have done any number of criminal law cases, although it is not the bulk of my practice. And indeed, I am credited -- and to Jeff's credit, and I thank him for this -- in the book with having asked right off the bat for the broadest kind of immunity, transactional immunity, for having done some darn good lawyering in making the motions that I did. So this business about being odd, and not being, you know, appropriate, is really rather silly, especially in light of the Hubbell, Hale and McDougal situation.
KING: How about not letting your client speak to them?
GINSBURG: Well, of course not. I wasn't going to let my client speak to them because, first of all, there was a question about whether she could handle it. And more importantly, we had given them all of the information that we knew existed. And if my untrustworthiness and my unreliability, and the oddities that they attributed to me, were something that bothered them, surely they did not attribute those same oddities and untrustworthiness to Nathaniel Spates (ph), who is my partner, my colleague, my friend, an ex- prosecutor, and a long-time resident of Washington, D.C. and member of the D.C. Bar.
KING: What was your worry? What did Monica do that was illegal? What worry -- what was the pending thing against her?
GINSBURG: Well, Monica didn't do anything illegal.
KING: I know, but what were they going charge her with?
GINSBURG: Well, they were saying that she had committed perjury in filing the affidavit that she did in the Paula Jones case.
KING: Saying that there was no pressure to -- right?
GINSBURG: No, no, no. She had said in there that she did not have a sexual relationship with the president. And they said that was a perjured statement. Of course, that is not true, and they knew it was not true because in the tapes that they garnered from Linda Tripp, they knew that she had interpreted those words as meaning something other than sexual intercourse. So she never had sexual intercourse with the president, which was a true statement.
Secondly, we were able to get Susan Webber Wright, Judge Susan Webber Wright, to be respectful and proper, and we were able to get her to say that there was no materiality to her testimony in the underlying case, and therefore that was a good defense.
KING: So they never had a case against your client?
GINSBURG: And, of course, obstruction of justice -- between Vernon Jordan's testimony, my client's testimony and the testimony of the president, they never had a case.
KING: Do you feel sorry for Monica?
GINSBURG: Oh, I feel -- of course I do. She was battered. You know, last night on your show, Paula Jones said something that was prophetic, and I really felt that way. She said, it is really odd to me that the only people who really got hurt in this, and whose reputations really were smeared -- this was as Toobin was looking at her and saying, I don't think what you say happened, happened -- on your show. She said, I got hurt. Monica got hurt. All of Monica's friends got hurt. Monica's parents got hurt. And the president of the United States says, gee, I'm sorry. Let's go on with my presidency, and please don't blame this on me.
KING: We'll be right back with more of William Ginsburg. We'll include your phone calls.
This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
Bill Ginsburg -- Los Angeles, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question for Mr. Ginsburg is this: Does Monica still owe you legal fees? And would those fees include your numerous appearances on television while you were representing her? GINSBURG: Well, let me put it this way. Whether she owes me fees or doesn't owe me fees is a matter of privilege, and I won't comment on it. But I will say this to you. I would never bill a client for my television appearances, if indeed I made television appearances, unless they were part of a strategy that the client agreed to. That's in general, and that is specifically. So, without divulging what the nature of our relationship and agreement was, I would suggest to you that I would not bill for something I hadn't agreed that I could bill for.
KING: She did complain on this program not so much about you but I think about currently being bugged about legal bills from the current lawyers.
GINSBURG: I don't know anything about that, and I can assure you that I am not part of their collection systems.
KING: San Francisco, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. I have a question for Mr. Ginsburg.
CALLER: Yes, I want to know what he thought about her search for a job, such as Revlon, or her present occupation today.
GINSBURG: Well, I happen to agree with what a columnist named Larry King wrote in the "USA Today" about one Monday ago. He said, she's entitled to make a living any way that she can. She's an adult. To the extent opportunities arise, regardless of how they arise or from what cause, hey, this is America. People are entitled to make -- look at King. He makes a living doing this every night for one hour. As his doctor says.
KING: One hour -- my doctor -- for one hour you come back. But, no, she's got a right. You don't have to use the product, right?
GINSBURG: That's absolutely right.
KING: Not about the search for jobs, though. That's part of the White House aspect of the Revlon thing and get me this, apparently the story is.
GINSBURG: Well, look. Let's be realistic. I certainly wasn't privy to any of those conversation. I wasn't there. But, realistically, she had a relationship with president of the United States. She wanted to move on, and he agreed to help her find a position elsewhere. There was no quid pro quo for it, and I searched for it and couldn't find it. So I just don't think that's a problem.
KING: It was part of the strategy, as you mentioned earlier, but in fact did you also enjoy the attention?
GINSBURG: Yes. To say that I didn't have a certain degree of enjoyment of the new milieu I found myself in, which was media and media attention, is wrong. I -- little known fact about me, I performed Shakesperean, other plays, and I was a college drama major. And I enjoyed the media and I enjoyed projecting and acting and doing things like that. Maybe that's one of the qualifications for a trial lawyer.
But sincerely, yes, of course. I enjoyed the case and I enjoyed the challenge and I enjoyed the media. And then it became a burden. It became a burden because as a dear friend of mine, as a matter of fact Joel Seigel (ph), who I went to high school with, who is a commentator on ABC, told me, he said, the media will consume you eventually, and you will not like it. At first, I didn't understand him. Now, I certainly do.
KING: When did you get not to like it? What happened that got you not to like it? Because you were on it.
GINSBURG: That's right.
KING: You were certainly on it.
GINSBURG: You know, when you're in a case like this, if I learned one thing it's not to succumb to the sirens on the rocks or the media. Because what will ultimately happen is that in order to keep the story going, even after your strategy has run out, the same people who begged you to come on their show will characterize you as a media hound or a clown or something else like that. So my personal feeling is that these were valuable lessons at the same time that I was executing a strategy. I stopped liking it when the same people who were pretending to be my newfound best friends became my newfound best enemies.
KING: An age-old adage, use them, spit them up, eat them, get them throw out.
KING: You wrote an op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" when you left, when you were replaced by Stein and Plato Cacheris, and you said:
"My reaction is that a person apparently needs a passport to get into Washington. I'm not a Washington insider, but I'm a hell of a good trial lawyer. Both the client and I mutually felt it would be in her best interests if a change was made. I initiated the suggestion of a change seven to 10 days before the change was made."
Is that true?
GINSBURG: That is true?
KING: The story has been they dropped you. It was their idea.
GINSBURG: You know, again, we get into the rhetoric and the facts. If that's what they need to say, with the advice of their press agent who had come on board and their press manager, so be it. And I have no problem with that. I will say to you that, you know, I regretted leaving the fray because my strategy was working and I think I could have brought it to fruition. But when you have to leave, you have to leave. And ethics is the most important thing in the world to me, and doing -- I should say ending a relationship or maintaining a relationship properly in the law is what it's all about.
KING: From your standpoint as a critic, judge, fellow lawyer, how well did Stein and Cacheris do?
GINSBURG: Oh, I think they did well. They fulfilled...
KING: What you would have done?
GINSBURG: What I would have done, and they waited -- you will recall that they had that initial meetings in approximately June of 1998, and it wasn't until August, the end of August, that they struck a deal. So, in essence, they were doing the same thing that I was doing, allowing enough time to pass so that if they gave Starr's people the queen for a day status, as they call it, or the interview, that in fact they wouldn't have the time. Because the pressure was mounting on them from Congress to pull the McDougal-Hale-Hubbell trick. So they had all the facts, they had the proffer, they simply went forward.
If you will recall, Jeff Toobin says in his book, when they asked about the dress, Cacheris said, we're not discuss any dresses until we get the immunity. In other words, it was the same position I was taking.
KING: We will take a break and come back and let Mr. Ginsburg tin type some people in this rigmarole and what he thinks of them, starting with president. And we'll get some more phone calls, too.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINSBURG: I've already answered that question all week.
LEWINSKY: Watch out, watch out, watch out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, guys, give her room.
QUESTION: Monica, was this your idea or your attorney's idea or...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John Irving tomorrow night, the great writer of "The Cider House Rules," and Ed Koch others tomorrow evening.
We're with Bill Ginsburg, and the call is from Harriman, Tennessee -- hello.
CALLER: Yes, my question to Mr. Ginsburg is why is Monica still under immunity, and when will she be able to talk freely?
KING: Good question. GINSBURG: Well, as far as I understand it, she's able to talk freely now.
SAWYER: She said she's not in certain aspects of the immunity agreement.
GINSBURG: Well, you know, the immunity agreement generally has a clause in it that says that she cannot talk about the negotiating process or some of the aspects of the negotiations that went on. And one of the things that we had negotiated for her was for her to not comment particularly on the Office of the Independent Counsel. So I think that's her limitation. Otherwise, she can talk all she wants to about her relationships and her -- as I understand it.
KING: The new prosecutor can indict, can he not?
GINSBURG: In theory he can, yes.
KING: He can indict the president when he leaves office.
GINSBURG: He certainly can, if that's what he chooses to do.
KING: Do you fear or think that might occur?
GINSBURG: I think it's -- that would be a mistake and a tragic disaster. I think it will not occur.
KING: What do you think of Bill Clinton?
GINSBURG: Well, I don't want to wax political, because I have no political position on him. I think what he did was despicable. I think how he did it was despicable, how he conducted himself was despicable. I think he put this nation on this issue, along with Ken Starr, through eight to 12 months of hell, and we didn't deserve it.
KING: But Ken Starr didn't do anything despicable, did he?
GINSBURG: Oh, Ken Starr was despicable from the get-go. He was a -- he's a fellow who runs around now with mea culpas all over the radio and the television. He says, look, I really thought that I was over the line. And I thought my position was unconstitutional. But in the name of the temple of the law, I have to fulfill my job. Well, if anybody at Cotkin, Collins and Ginsburg ever told me that they thought what they were doing was unethical and unconstitutional, I'd fire them in a New York minute.
KING: He didn't say it was unethical, right? He never said...
GINSBURG: No, but I'm -- he said he was over the line. What does over the line mean? It means he's beyond the pallor of investigation. That's not ethical. And I felt that he was stretching. He couldn't convict the president or get any evidence on the president or Mrs. Clinton in the Whitewater land deal, so he has to go all the way to sexual dalliances.
KING: Who in this mish-mosh do you like? GINSBURG: I like Nate Spates. I like...
KING: Your fellow counsel. Anyone else come out with good points to you?
GINSBURG: I like several members of the press who were very descent to me. You were very decent to me. Bill Safire called me individually around Passover time and told me that he felt that I should come to his home because no man should be alone on a holiday of some significance or importance to him. I thought that was mighty classy. When there was a Super Bowl and I had no television to watch it on particularly, your colleague Wolf Blitzer invited me to his home. So I like him.
KING: Do you like Susan McDougal?
GINSBURG: I've never met Susan McDougal, but I sure like Mark Geragos. What a nice fellow he is...
KING: The lawyer.
GINSBURG: ... and what a competent lawyer.
KING: Think he did a good job with her?
GINSBURG: Superb job, excellent job. He's the best.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bill Ginsburg right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINSBURG: Yes, I keep forgetting we can't go up that side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Paradise California, for William Ginsburg -- hello.
CALLER: Hello. We've been, we the American people, have been subjected to this Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton-Ken Starr mess for so long. Do you see any end coming in this?
KING: Good question.
CALLER: And how is President Clinton going to be remembered when it's all over.
KING: Another good question.
GINSBURG: Well, I think the first comment about President Clinton will be much like the first comment about Warren Harding: scandal, Teapot Dome. The first comment...
KING: It will be in the first paragraph? GINSBURG: And the first paragraph will be...
KING: Her name is in first paragraph.
GINSBURG: ... the second president to be impeached for sexual dalliances -- of course, the second president to be impeached, and the reason is sexual dalliances.
I agree with you. Do I see an end to this? I don't think I'll live long enough. Maybe Strom Thurmond will see an end to it, but I sure as hell won't.
KING: Why did you join Cotkin, Collins, Ginsburg? Why a new firm?
GINSBURG: Well, you know, I've been 25 years with my old firm. And they are a bunch young bucks that learned to practice under me. And I had done all that I could, and I personally felt that I needed to move on and...
KING: Have anything to do with the Lewinsky matter?
GINSBURG: I don't think so. I think the...
KING: Might have moved anyway?
GINSBURG: I might have moved anyway. I needed -- I needed new vistas. I joined a group of fellows and ladies who I knew from law school and who have a very principled and very stiff and tough practice. I enjoy being with them. They practice law the way law should be practiced.
KING: If you had to do it again, would you take this case?
GINSBURG: Absolutely. Any time...
GINSBURG: ... that any dear friend asks me, particularly if they ask me to undertake a challenge, I would do that. That's what being a lawyer is all about. It's taking challenges, it's representing people, it's doing what's right for your country, it's being ethical, and it's moving in the direction that you need to move in order to make this place a better place to live.
KING: And help us -- because a lot of people do this -- help us, tell us how the therapy helped. What got you through?
GINSBURG: Well, it just simply got me through the overcharge of adrenaline. I just had too much going on. And when you are going at 90 miles an hour, 24 hours a day for six months, it's hard to come back to a normal pace. I smile at you when I say a normal pace of 60 or 70 hours a week with nothing but trials and work behind a desk.
KING: And how has public treated you? When you get on an airplane or go into a courtroom -- you try cases all over, right? GINSBURG: All over and often.
KING: How have you been treated?
GINSBURG: Marvelously well. I must tell you that I receive wonderful treatment wherever I go. When people recognize me, they're very sweet, they're very kind. They have more common sense than some of the press that I've talked to. To be honest with you, I couldn't be more pleased with those people who recognize me, and I realize that that's waning, and I'm...
KING: Do you ever think of shaving off the beard and wearing long ties?
GINSBURG: You know, I have a problem with that. If I shave off the beard, my wife will leave me. And after as many years as we've been married, I don't want that to happen. I love her very much. And as for the long ties, I just don't own any. I have to borrow them. And I tie these myself, you know.
KING: You can tie that yourself.
Any -- what's your biggest regret over all this -- we've got 30 seconds.
GINSBURG: My biggest regret is that I didn't get to see the end, that I didn't accomplish the task that I wanted to accomplish. And my second biggest regret is that the country had to be put through this mess and we had to spend $100 million when we had so many other needs.
KING: Thank you, Bill.
GINSBURG: My pleasure, Larry.
KING: William Ginsburg, now with Cotkin, Collins and Ginsburg here in Los Angeles, the former attorney for Monica Lewinsky.
Tomorrow night on "LARRY KING WEEKEND," John Irving, Ed Koch, Jesse Jackson, others -- great show, four top books to look at.
And then Monday night, back with another live edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Stay tuned for "CNN NEWSSTAND."
From Los Angeles, I'm Larry King. Get well, David. Good night.
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