|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Larry King Live
Should President Clinton Be Disbarred?Aired May 23, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, GUEST HOST: Tonight, should President Clinton be disbarred? An Arkansas state supreme court committee recommends, yes, citing serious misconduct in connection with the Paula Jones case. We'll hear from defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, who joins us from West Palm Beach; in Boston, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who's also the author of "The Genesis of Justice;" in Washington, former federal prosecutor Barbara Olson, author of "Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton;" and Matthew Glavin, who's the president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Then the seizure of Elian Gonzalez triggers a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Attorney General Janet Reno. The plaintiff in the case, Donato Dalrymple, joins us from Miami, and in Washington, his attorney, Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Thanks for joining us. I'm Greta van Susteren, sitting in for Larry King, and Larry has a paternity leave tonight. He'll be back tomorrow night. But he and wife, Shawn, who you'd love, are the proud parents of 28-hour-old Canon Edward King, but he'll be back tomorrow night to lead the show.
We're going to talk tonight about President Clinton, who says he will fight a push to strip him of his law license. A disciplinary committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court is recommending that he be disbarred for lying under oath. The disbarment action follows a complaint from district court Judge Susan Webber Wright. She presided over Paula Smith's lawsuit against the president. She later found Mr. Clinton in contempt of court for giving what she termed false and misleading answers in the Jones case. Also filing a complaint about Mr. Clinton's conduct, the Southeastern Legal Foundation.
Matt, let me go first to you. You represent the Southeastern Legal Foundation.
Why do you want the president disbarred?
MATTHEW GLAVIN, SOUTHEASTERN LEGAL FOUNDATION: Well, the president should be disbarred because he violated the rules of professional conduct, specifically he violated the rules that say it is -- for lawyers, you cannot be dishonest or be involved in fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, and that's exactly what Bill Clinton did.
VAN SUSTEREN: Matt, what makes you sort of the conscience of this whole investigation of the president of this proceeding? GLAVIN: Well no, we're not the conscience of the entire investigation; this proceeding, though. The Southeastern Legal Foundation, Greta, is a public interest law firm. And the American Bar Association makes it clear that the purpose of lawyer discipline proceedings is to protect the public's interest in the integrity of the judicial system. This isn't about Bill Clinton, Greta. This is about 275 million other people in America who have a right to a judicial system that's free from lawyers who lie under oath and obstruct justice.
VAN SUSTEREN: Matt, you describe yourself as public interest law firm. I read on your Web site that you are financed, in part. by the Scaife Foundation, which is a very conservative organization. Does that have any bearing on any of your decisions?
GLAVIN: Well, that's more of a question for you. I mean, really, what does that have to do with whether or not Bill Clinton lied under oath or obstructed justice, or both? It has nothing to do with it. Remember, Southeastern Legal Foundation brought original complaint. It was the Committee on Professional Conduct that issued the formal complaint against the president, and it was the committee on professional conduct that voted the other day to move forward and proceed with disbarment of the president.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan Dershowitz, what is your reaction to the proceedings in Arkansas?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR, "THE GENESIS OF LAW": Well, I'm glad there are proceedings. I think that President Clinton as a lawyer deserves to have his conduct carefully evaluated. But the idea that any lawyer who violates the code of professional responsibility or the model code or whatever the bar in a particular state has adopted should automatically be disbarred, it's preposterous. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of cases ever year of lawyers violating the rules. The rules are written very vaguely and generally.
There are disciplinary rule. There are ethical considerations. In the vast majority of cases, you get a reprimand, sometimes a short suspension. Disbarment is reserved for lawyers who steal funds from their clients, lawyers who, while acting as lawyers, do things in court which violate not only the norms, but the rules, and also lawyers who are convicted of felonies.
I challenge anybody on this show to come up with a single precedent in the history of the United States where a lawyer with no prior history of misconduct has been disbarred for a single incident of even misleading or false testimony in a civil deposition in which he was not acting as lawyer, but acting as client. If this happens to Mr. Clinton, it will set back the enforcement of disciplinary rules 50 years, return it to the days when it was highly political. We're trying to emerge from the dark days when discipline was political and moved to a more professional of discipline.
But this politicization of discipline will move it back a considerable amount of time. It will hurt the enforcement. It will hurt 275 million Americans, and it will hurt efforts to try to monitor the bar.
VAN SUSTEREN: Lee Bailey, what's your reaction to the proceedings in Arkansas?
F. LEE BAILEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, I think the gentleman from the Southeastern Conference is a rather transparent shield for the political views of the person who put up the money. Second, I think that Bill Clinton should be convicted, of very bad judgment. Third, I think that all the lawyers who have lied about the fact they had a little affair on the side should turn in their licenses at once, in which case Shakespeare will have won. We will have killed all the lawyers.
VAN SUSTEREN: Lee, is this about the president having an affair, or about the president giving misleading testimony in a civil deposition?
BAILEY: It's about the president doing both. If he had better judgment -- and he had very good lawyers from beginning to end -- I happen to know them, he would have said, this is none of your business, instead of trying to save his political life by saying, no, I didn't do it, and later saying, well, you know, that's really not sex. That is probably the worst example of a lawyer giving advice to himself and getting hung for doing it.
But did he do anything bad as a lawyer? Did he disable a client? I mean, Alan's got his finger on the button: This guy has had enough punishment as president, as politician, as public figure. What do you want to take his license for? And who in Arkansas is casting the first stone, and are they without sin?
VAN SUSTEREN: Barbara, do you think the president should be disbarred?
BARBARA OLSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I mean, Alan Dershowitz's statement -- I mean, I disagree with F. Lee Bailey -- Alan Dershowitz has his finger on the political button. I'll give him a case since he's challenged anyone on the show to give him a case. I'll give him a case, and that is a 1998 Arkansas Supreme Court case. It's Sashet (ph) v. Arkansas Board of Examiners, and I'll quote the supreme court.
DERSHOWITZ: No, but first, tell the listeners. First, you know, you have an obligation to tell the truth also, Barbara. Tell the listeners that it's not a case of disbarment; it's a case of a person who is not a member of the bar trying to get admitted to the bar. Tell the truth, right?
OLSON: This is an individual who they found was not able to join the bar, because he had lied on two questions.
DERSHOWITZ: So it's not disbarment case.
OLSON: Alan, please, calm down.
DERSHOWITZ: It's not a disbarment case, tell the truth. Lawyers have obligation to tell the truth, Barbara.
GLAVIN: Alan, you're not suggesting that there is a different standard for lawyers who are members of the bar and lawyers entering the bar?
DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely. Every bar association has articulated that standard.
OLSON: If Alan will be so kind as to let someone else speak some facts, rather than a political harangue.
First of all, this supreme court decided this person was not fit to become a member of the bar, and they went on to make a statement about a standard, and this is a standard that Judge Susan Webber Wright, who is not a political person, who has no ax to grind, found when she found President Clinton in contempt of court. And what the court said is "There is simply no place in law for a man who cannot or will not tell the truth, even when own interests are at stake."
Judge Susan Webber Wright found President Clinton in contempt of court. She found that he lied under oath before her in her court. She found that it was intent to obstruct justice, and that's important, because this is not a political person. This is someone who said, you try to prevent a woman from having legitimate access to my court. Her own contempt is what prompted a lot of the decision that we found out on the committee.
DERSHOWITZ: Barbara, tell the public...
OLSON: This wasn't an individual who made a decision. This was a committee of four votes from the Arkansas committee. It wasn't one person, anyone connected to politics.
And unfortunately, the harangue just doesn't prove true when you have a president who is a lawyer, who knew better than to lie under oath. He knew the ramifications.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, let me -- I promise, I'll get right back to you after this break. We're going to take a break. We'll be right back. And we're also going be taking your calls, so stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JANUARY 17, 1998)
QUESTION: At any time were you and Monica Lewinsky together alone in the Oval Office?
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't recall, but as I said, when she worked at the Legislative Affairs Office, they always had somebody there on the weekends, and I typically worked some on the weekends. Sometimes they'd bring me things on the weekends. It seems to me she brought things to me once or twice on the weekends. In that case, whatever time she would be in there dropped it off, exchanged a few words, and go, she was there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to LARRY KING.
Alan, before we went to break, I told you can respond to Barbara Olson.
DERSHOWITZ: I have a response and then a question for Barbara. The response is this: Of course, Susan Webber Wright -- with whom I agree, I think she did a very fine job -- did not recommend disbarment. She simply recommended that this case be taken under advisement. She did not recommend disbarment.
Second, I have a question for Barbara.
OLSON: What she did was use the language.
DERSHOWITZ: Let me finish my point. Let me finish my point, Barbara.
Now here's this direct challenge, and don't try to wiggle out of it. Casper Weinberger and the other lawyers, who were either pleaded guilty or had to be pardoned for perjurious conduct in front of Congress, you never said a word about them being disbarred. You well remember the D.C. bar. I ask you on the show, will you call for the disbarment of Casper Weinberger?
OLSON: Alan, if it was such a big deal, where were you? Why weren't you calling for his disbarment?
DERSHOWITZ: I was. I was.
OLSON: What I'd like to say about Susan Webber Wright is Susan Webber Wright included in her opinion the language that the disbarment committee used. The very violations of the model rules that the disbarment committee in Arkansas found that President Clinton had violated is in Susan Webber Wright's opinion. It's not her job to recommend. What she did find was that President Clinton willfully lied under oath, not only in the deposition, but he also lied under oath before her. And in interrogatories, she also found that he lied under oath with the intent to obstruct justice.
DERSHOWITZ: Judges do recommend, and she didn't recommend in this case.
OLSON: How can a judge control a court? How could any lawyer practice in the state of Arkansas if someone to whom a judge has found conclusively in contempt of court for lying and obstruction of justice? If that's not disbarment, then there is no basis to which ever to disbar a lawyer, and I think it's the actual opposite, that rather than the court...
DERSHOWITZ: Are you going to answer the question about Casper Weinberger?
BAILEY: Would somebody shut up, please.
OLSON: Alan, someday you need to come into the 21st century.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let's go to F. Lee Bailey, who's now asked everyone to shut up.
And Lee, you said earlier that there is enough punishment. How do you decide what's appropriate punishment for conduct in a bar proceeding?
BAILEY: You know, I think you have to take a good look at this virulent attack by Barbara. She's been on Clinton's back from day one, would like to eviscerate him, maybe de-ball him, but I tried to make nice-nice to Barbara, and look what happened to me.
OLSON: Wait a minute.
BAILEY: So I think your credibility has to be really drawn at issue. But everybody ought to stop shouting and take turns, and say one at a time whether it's a good idea to take the license to practice law away from the president of the United States, and not on a standard of refusing a new entry, but on taking away a license that has been in existence for a long time. First of all, who is going to be protected?
OLSON: Well, I think -- can I answer that? I'd like to answer that question. Who will be protected is the 7,800 lawyers that are currently practicing in Arkansas, who have not obstructed justice.
BAILEY: How do you know they don't lie under oath? How do you know they don't lie under oath? What are you talking about?
OLSON: Because if a judge determines that a lawyer has lied under oath in the court before their judge, I mean, this makes a case much easier than just a client complaining about their lawyer. You have a judge who actually said this lawyer, Bill Clinton, lied under oath in my presence.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you about that, Barbara. That was -- the president never had a trial on that, did he?
OLSON: No, and a trial wasn't required, because Judge Susan Webber Wright held him in contempt of her court for what she -- and she said, I won't go into other issues where I might need a hearing, I'm going to just find what -- and it's interesting, her words were, "no reasonable person could deny that these events occurred."
VAN SUSTEREN: Matt, do you expect to participate in any way in the proceedings? Or was your participation, your group, only in filing the initial complaint?
GLAVIN: Just in filing the initial complaint. I think Alan made a good point: This shouldn't be politicized. You know, people -- Alan and Lee and Barbara and even myself -- really shouldn't be making decisions like this. But if we want to take all the rhetoric out, what we can do is look at the ABA standards for imposing lawyer sanctions, and there is no politics involved there. And let me tell you what they say -- they say that disbarment is generally appropriate when a lawyer, with the intent to deceive the court, makes a false statement, and that's exactly what happened here. Bill Clinton acknowledged he made false statements, and he acknowledged he did it with the intent to deceive the court.
DERSHOWITZ: Read the commentary. The commentary talks about it as a lawyer. When the lawyer is acting in his capacity as lawyer.
GLAVIN: No, not at all, and it doesn't say that in the Arkansas rules, Alan. You know that. And the American Bar Association guidelines don't say that.
DERSHOWITZ: Then how come thousands and thousands of lawyers every year don't get disbarred for lying in depositions, get disbarred when they lie in their capacity as lawyers. And we do have to get back to consistent application here. This is not an attempt to protect the republic from Democrats. This has to be applied across the board. Have you ever proceeded against a Republican lawyer, sir?
GLAVIN: Alan, you are making a terrible mistake when you say that there has to be a consistent standard. There is not supposed to be a consistent standard. The law in Arkansas says...
VAN SUSTEREN: Matt, can I ask you a question?
GLAVIN: ... that lawyers who hold public office have to be held to a higher standard. This is indeed an unprecedented case.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we'll, I'm going to take a break. When we come back, I'm going to ask Matt a question.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 19, 1999)
LARRY KING, HOST: Did you say to yourself ever in that deposition, he's lying?
PAULA JONES: I said it to myself the whole time. I just kept getting so frustrated. But you know, I was trying to be calm and everything, and -- but then I broke afterwards, because I was so disappointed and everything that I didn't get the truth, and I thought for sure when he swore and put his hand on that Bible that I would get the truth, and that's not what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Greta Van Susteren, sitting in for Larry, who has the night off. And we're talking about the proceedings down in the state of Arkansas and whether or not the president of the United States will receive some form of sanction from the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Matt, let me ask you a question, since you originated the complaint. And obviously, the issue of bias may or may not be relevant. But in a "New York Times" article column dated May 9, Neil Lewis wrote an article in which he said Ken Starr helped raise funds for your foundation, true or false?
GLAVIN: Well, first of all, it's false. Ken Starr has never raised money for the Southeastern Legal Foundation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Has he contributed in any way, directly or indirectly? Before we get to the issue of being bias, whether it's relevant, has he ever?
GLAVIN: You know, no, he hasn't. He's never contributed in any way. He did speak at one event in our 24-year history, so this must be a conspiracy.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did he speak about Clinton?
GLAVIN: The fact of the...
VAN SUSTEREN: Was he speaking about Clinton?
GLAVIN: Wait a minute, Greta. No, he didn't, not at all. I don't think he mentioned the president's name once.
DERSHOWITZ: Did he charge you for speaking?
GLAVIN: Oh, come on, you guys are -- this is remarkable.
DERSHOWITZ: That's important. If he didn't charge you, it's a contribution.
GLAVIN: No. This is remarkable that you're spending so much time talking about Southeastern Legal Foundation when the fact of the matter is this is all about whether or not Bill Clinton is fit to hold a law license.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask Alan. Alan, isn't it an issue?
GLAVIN: A committee in Arkansas has said that he is not fit to hold a law license, that he has violated the rules of professional conduct.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, is it an issue?
DERSHOWITZ: I'm sorry. I didn't hear you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, is it an issue who files a complaint, or is that totally irrelevant?
DERSHOWITZ: No, I think it is an issue, because we have an organization here that has never filed a complaint against a conservative, has never filed a complaint against a Republican. We have Barbara Olson, who will not say, will not say that Casper Weinberger, her friend, and the other lawyers who were indicted along with him for lies should be disbarred.
GLAVIN: So what you're saying, Alan...
DERSHOWITZ: So she believes disbarment is reserved for Democrats. This politicizes the system.
OLSON: Alan, I'd like to make something clear. First of all, I think everyone is probably going to get very confused listening to this, because we're talking about a complaint by Southeastern Legal Foundation. And I think it should be made clear that there were two complaints filed against the president. One was by the Southeastern Legal Foundation. The other was by Susan Webber Wright. When she found the president to be in contempt, there was automatic complaint that was sent to the Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility. And if you read the opinion, frankly, they also include a lot of the language of the judge, and they include the finding as well as the professional conduct rules that she cites within her opinion.
So regardless of whether people perhaps think that the basis had a political beginning with the Southeastern -- I don't think that's true -- certainly, Judge Susan Webber Wright, who is a district court judge in Arkansas, who, as a matter of fact, had a constitutional law teacher named Professor William Jefferson Clinton.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me interrupt you and go to Lee. Lee, you had a comment to make?
BAILEY: You know, I think everybody is jumping up and down like little puppets. How in the world could anybody think that the Southeastern Legal Foundation had any impartial word to utter? And how could anybody think that Barbara Olson, who's been on the president's case for as long as I can remember, would ever give him a fair appraisal? And how could anyone think that Alan Dershowitz would not stick up for somebody being attacked by the government or that I wouldn't?
So let's put the cards on the table. What is the case against President Clinton? Never mind the diatribe. What are the facts?
VAN SUSTEREN: And it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) issue. And when we come back, we're going to do just that, Lee. We're going to talk about the facts and find out, what is the case against the president?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JANUARY 17, 1998)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If she told someone that she had a sexual affair with you beginning November of 1995, would that be a lie? CLINTON: It's certainly not the truth. It would not be the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so the record is completely clear: Have you ever had relations with Monica Lewinsky, as the term is defined in deposition exhibit one, as modified by the court?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I object, because I don't know that he could remember.
SUSAN WEBBER WRIGHT, ARKANSAS DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: Well, it's real short. I will permit the question, and you may show the witness definition No. 1.
CLINTON: I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back.
Lee, I said we're going to talk about the facts. Precisely what is your understanding is the facts or the issue before the bar committee -- or before the court in Arkansas?
BAILEY: My understanding is that the president was forced to answer questions that I think should not have been put to him in the Paula Jones lawsuit. Judge Webber allowed them. He decided to mask, or cover up, as most presidents of the United States have, his actual culpability, or to describe it in a way that suited him but not logic, and that now even though he wasn't acting as a lawyer, somebody wants to take his license away. I'm asking, why in the world do they want to do that? For what purpose? Is he going to practice law and lie to courts? I don't think so.
VAN SUSTEREN: Matt, do you want to respond to Lee?
GLAVIN: Sure, yes. To simplify what Lee said, the president made misrepresentations to the court and he did it with the intent to deceive the court, because he didn't want this relationship to become public. Why do we do it? To protect the public's interest in the integrity of the judicial system. Lee, Americans all over this land are very concerned that it's now OK for lawyers to lie under oath.
BAILEY: Oh, cut the nonsense, you don't speak for Americans all over this land. And when was the last time you lied about your sex life?
GLAVIN: The fact of the matter is, Lee, that's what the American Bar Association says that this whole process is all about.
DERSHOWITZ: Great, can I give you some facts that might be useful.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, go ahead, Alan.
DERSHOWITZ: I've been teaching legal ethics for 25 years. I've been consulting with students seeking admission to the bar, lawyers who have been threatened with disbarment, and I've looked at cases from Arkansas. In the cases over the past 15 years from Arkansas, about 90 percent of them involve lawyers who have in some way acting as lawyers hurt their clients, either by stealing money from them or by failing to meet court deadlines. Another about eight or nine percent of the cases from Arkansas involved lawyers who have been convicted of felonies, serious felonies, ranging from rape to homicide to very, very serious crimes. The other handful of cases all involve lawyers who have been reprimanded or briefly suspended.
There is simply no precedent in Arkansas for a lawyer who's held a license for 25 years and who was engaged in no misconduct previously -- and I submit there isn't a case anywhere in the country. And what will happen, is if this case goes forward...
OLSON: Alan, I'm going to give you another case. Alan, I'm sorry, quit challenging me, because I did about an hour of research on the Arkansas Supreme Court. And 1974 was a circuit court case which said attorneys may be disciplined for conduct that is unconnected to their professional activities.
DERSHOWITZ: of course they may be.
OLSON: And the discipline comes from suspension, and in Bill Clinton's case...
VAN SUSTEREN: Would you have a problem with suspension, Barbara. I mean, if you look back...
OLSON: It's not that I have trouble, Greta, it's that there was a committee that voted that looked at...
VAN SUSTEREN: Forget that, I understand that. There was a lawyer on, John DiPippa, the state of Arkansas. And when you look at disbarment issues or sanctions, you look at what the committee standards is. He said to us on "Burden of Proof" that suspension or a reprimand would be consistent with the punishment. Would you have a problem with that?
OLSON: I would if it was a singular event. If Bill Clinton had made one misstatement, had willfully lied under oath others in one instance, and it was just about sex.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think it's one incident. It was the civil deposition.
OLSON: No, it's also, if you read Judge Susan Webber Wright, she talks about the deposition, she talks about the interrogatories, and this is Bill Clinton, who is an attorney, who wasn't forced to answer questions as F. Lee Bailey said, there was no force there at all. He knew he could settle. He was well aware.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you think that under these circumstances, the facts warrant disbarment, and you have no room for any sanction-like suspension or reprimand?
OLSON: I think that with Judge Susan Webber Wright's opinion of contempt, when she makes the statement, she realized that what Bill Clinton was doing was preventing someone to have legitimate access to a court. And this was a woman, whether you like the woman or not.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know if I agree with you on that, because...
OLSON: The lies were to keep the case out of court, to get it dismissed.
VAN SUSTEREN: The deceit related to Monica Lewinsky in a Paula Jones (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Lee, I'll get right back to you.
We're going to take a break.
And former independent counsel Ken Starr was a guest on this show in October of last year. Larry King asked him what it was like during the president's grand jury deposition in August of 1998.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 1999)
KEN STARR, FMR. INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: It was uncomfortable for all of us, it was sad for all of us. We felt that there were very serious issues of truthfulness. There had been a lot of comment to the effect that whatever has gone on before, Mr. President, tell the truth now, because this is a federal grand jury.
KING: Do you think he was lying? Skimming? What? What were your impressions?
STARR: I'm going to just stick with, Larry, what we said in our referral to Congress, and that is that there that was substantial evidence I believe that he was lying to the grand jury.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Lee, you wanted to add something?
BAILEY: I certainly do. I am shocked to hear Barbara counter Alan's dissertation with the assertion that she did an hour's worth of legal search. An hour?
OLSON: In Arkansas Supreme Court cases.
BAILEY: You know, I had a great surgeon do this hand. I'm about to go get a tetanus shot if she did an hour's worth of legal research. I would fire anybody who did an hour's worth of legal research on a major issue.
GLAVIN: That's nonsense, Lee, and you know it.
OLSON: Lee, you know, there's a huge other issue. You know that's not the issue. I'm looking at old cases in Arkansas. When the president of the United States last night in an interview said there is not a single precedent. I found five precedents, and I stopped after an hour. After you find precedents, you say, that's just another lie, that's not true. And when Alan sits here and says I can't -- Lee, when I find five precedents that support the proposition that there is precedent one doesn't need to go further.
BAILEY: Oh, no you didn't. Oh, no you didn't?
OLSON: I have them right here. I've given two of them. One doesn't need to go further. And personal attacks are not going to make Bill Clinton any less guilty. I don't quite understand to be shocked. You all are saying...
VAN SUSTEREN: let me get Alan a chance. Let me give Alan a chance.
DERSHOWITZ: Barbara, again, I want to challenge you.
OLSON: Please do.
DERSHOWITZ: I want one case where there has been a disbarment that is not a person denied admission to the bar, a disbarment from somebody who has no prior record, who has engaged in what you call lying at the deposition.
OLSON: Alan, I've given you two, and they're both lawyers...
DERSHOWITZ: No, no, no, give me one. Give me one now.
OLSON: Alan, we're both lawyers. I have given you two cases. I have you the '74 Case, which was the disbarment of a lawyer, where the court said that it didn't depend upon whether it was a client, which you just said after your years of research. I gave you the 19...
DERSHOWITZ: Barbara, you would fail any course in research. You know you found, you found one of a thousand cases where (UNINTELLIGIBLE) person is convicted of a felony they can be disbarred.
DERSHOWITZ: You are misleading the public.
OLSON: You can't just yell. VAN SUSTEREN: Barbara, let me go to -- Lee, let me go to you, and then I'm going to go to Matt. Go ahead, Lee.
BAILEY: Greta, would somebody take control of the show? This was not intended to be "CROSSFIRE," which is where Barbara belongs. Now please...
OLSON: Well, Lee, you're the one claiming that there's not research, so excuse me.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me stop. Let me get some civility. Let me get some civility out of...
OLSON: There should be civility. And frankly, when you find five precedents in an hour that the president lied last night, that's enough.
VAN SUSTEREN: I tell you, you know, it's tough to be a host of a show with a bunch of lawyers on it.
Matt, you've been so quiet. Let me go to you, because you seem to be the most quiet of the group?
GLAVIN: Look, the bottom line here is truthfulness and honesty are not aspirational goals for a lawyer. They are the very bare minimal standards. What the committee voted this week, they essentially were saying that Bill Clinton doesn't meet those minimal standards, and the appropriate sanction is that he be disbarred. That's what the American Bar Association says, and that's what the Arkansas Supreme Court says.
VAN SUSTEREN: Matt, as a matter of procedure, isn't it really the story is that what they've said is that in their opinion that this warrants a trial on the issue of whether or not there has been misconduct, and if so, what appropriate sanctions?
GLAVIN: No, that's not really true. What the committee is doing is saying that they indeed themselves are initiating a disbarment proceeding. It will be decided by a judge, but I've got to tell you, as a lawyer...
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, what's the practical effect if he gets disbarred?
DERSHOWITZ: The practical effect is to completely politicize the process of lawyer review. You know, if Matt was right, that lawyers routinely got disbarred for lying during depositions, then either we must have the most honest profession in the world, because no lawyer has ever been disbarred in the history of this country, notwithstanding the phony arguments and the phony cases being cited by Barbara. If Barbara were in court today citing those cases, she would be disciplined. That's how outrageous the cases are she's citing.
GLAVIN: Alan, that is nonsense. That is nonsense, Alan, and you know it. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. DERSHOWITZ: You can not still give me -- if I were a judge here and I asked you for a single case which said that a person not convicted of a felony for a single act like this, unrelated to his being a lawyer, and you cited those case, Barbara, you'd be disciplined for misleading...
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, let me take Lee Bailey's advice, take control and take us to break.
We will be right back.
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back.
We shift focus now from the possible disbarment of the president to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the attorney general. The photo of an armed government agent bent on seizing young Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives early on April 22 shocked a lot of people. The man seen holding Elian, the same who helped save him from the sea. And he says the predawn raid violated his right. Donato Dalrymple is suing the U.S. government, including Janet Reno. He joins us now from Miami. And here in Washington, one of his attorney, Larry Klayman, who's chairman and general counsel of Judicial Watch.
LARRY KLAYMAN, GENERAL COUNSEL, JUDICIAL WATCH: Good evening, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: And F. Lee Bailey is still with us in West Palm Beach, and Alan Dershowitz is still with us from Boston.
Let me go first to you, Donato. What happened that morning that is a denial of your rights?
DONATO DALRYMPLE, ELIAN GONZALEZ RESCUER: Well, it isn't every day that you have a submachine gun, or I would call -- and I'm a novice -- an assault weapon stuck in your face without doing anything. I was just there at the house, I was sleeping there at an all-night prayer vigil, and to have a gun stuck in your face, I'll tell you, it's terrifying, it's not America, it's not what our founding forefathers had planned for futures here in America. And it's just -- it's a crime against my civil rights.
KING: Donato, where were you when you first knew the agents had come into the house, and what are you -- you know, take me step by step as to what happened up until the point you had a gun in your face?
KLAYMAN: Well, let me point out, Greta, he can answer it generally, but the complaint is very specific. You can find it on our Web site at judicialwatch.org. Donato can tell about it generally, but if people want to see it, it's about a 37-page complaint.
VAN SUSTEREN: But I'm curious, Donato, I mean, you heard the agents come into the house, is that right?
DALRYMPLE: Yes, I could tell you very clearly what happened. I was in a deep sleep on the sofa on the foyer, and I heard what I would think is the rustling of foot soldiers, I heard people screaming and yelling, "get down or we'll shoot," and I thought it was a bad dream. I couldn't imagine. I woke up. I heard little Elian just about 10 feet across from me in the living room, by the sofa screaming, and I don't know why -- and me and him came to each other. There was many other people in the house that could have grabbed him. And I just grabbed him, whisked him up into my arm, not knowing what to do, who was coming into the house. It didn't seem like these were Americans that were doing something like this, and I ran for shelter, to be honest with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, what about this search and seizure? Is it constitutional?
DERSHOWITZ: I don't think it was constitutional. I will not defend the Clinton administration on this one. I think the warrants were phony warrants. They certainly implied that Elian was illegally in the country, when there is a court order requiring that he stay in the country. They said he was being hidden, when obviously he was not being hidden. I don't like administrative warrants. They, I think, violate the Fourth Amendment. I'm completely against what the administration did in this case.
On the other hand, I think it's an uphill fight here, largely because this brave fisherman, who I admire, probably has difficult problem establishing his standing. He's not home owner. If the home owner brought the suit, it would have a better chance of success. This man went into the house probably knowing that there was risk there would be a raid. I hope the courts look at him and his case sympathetically, because he deserves to have a hearing, but if I were making a prediction about how this case would come out, I would say it was uphill. I hope the courts do not validate the search in this case, because it would have a terrible precedential effect on searches involving other aliens, factories, homes in which undocumented aliens are living. It was a very sad day for America.
KLAYMAN: Greta, Alan raises some good points, and I disagree with him on another point. He's absolutely right that these arrest warrants and these search warrants were invalid. They claimed that Elian was here. They claimed he was here illegally. He was never here legally, he was here legally, and they claim that his parole had been revoked. It was never revoked.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does that make the warrants fatal, if you have something that's wrong on it?
KLAYMAN: Not only are the warrants fatal, but as Alan's pointed out before, they were fraudulent. So talk about disbarment proceedings, this is a case where lawyers put forward false information. Now they went into the house, and they basically violated liberty rights. They didn't have a right to be there, number one. But number two -- let me finish this, Greta. VAN SUSTEREN: Larry, let me say, if the warrants are valid, the search and seizure are OK. If they're invalid, then it becomes unconstitutional. Is that the simplicity of it?
KLAYMAN: That's just step one. I mean, it's a nonstarter from step one, as Alan has said, but step two is, even if they were valid, they could not use excessive force here, and that's where you get to violating the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Now in the 11th Circuit, Alan, it doesn't matter whether it's your house or not. You could be walking down the street, and if federal government officials accost and you do something like this, you're responsible under the law, so we have very strong law here, and we brought this case in Miami, Florida, which of course is the community where this happened. They'll get to judge it.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're going to take a break. When we come back, we'll get Lee Bailey's view on this.
Stay with us.
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back.
We're talking about the multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed in the Elian Gonzalez case arising out of the search and seizure of Elian Gonzalez.
Lee, let's assume for a second that the warrants were valid -- and Alan says they were not, and Larry says they were not -- but Let's assume they were valid, let's go to the issue of excessive force. How do you decide what's excessive force? Do you think there's excessive force here?
BAILEY: I don't. You know, Alan and I have known each other for well over 30 years. A lot of times we agree, and this time I don't. I think that the warnings were given, Janet Reno agonized, all of the solutions were explored. And I think this lawsuit is going to go nowhere.
But I wish to make this point. I commend those involved, the lawyers, the parties, and everybody else, for bringing complaints to the court, because otherwise, it could have been gunfire, and we see far too much of that in South Florida.
KLAYMAN: I agree with that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, you have trouble with the warrants, like, Larry. What about the issue of excessive force, which is a separate issue? How do you determine excessive force? And do you think there was excessive force here?
DERSHOWITZ: Excessive force generally requires not the threat of force, but the use of force. Here I think if the warnings were valid, one could make the argument that they had to move in quickly and get the child out quickly. They claimed they had threats of possible weapons in the crowds. I surely would have done it differently. I think...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let me ask you about the threats of the guns, because there is one statement in the complaint, in the lawsuit, which says that the federal government had been watching the house, and they had not -- there had not been guns brought in as far, as they knew. Is that important?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, I think it's important. And I hope that they get a hearing on this. I hope that we have an opportunity finally to get some people under oath, and to have some depositions, talking about the earlier part of our show. I hope that the government officials, the U.S. attorneys, prosecutors and the police will testify truthfully. And you know, in the beginning of the show, it made it sound like all policemen and all prosecutors always tell the truth all the time. That's not the world that Lee Bailey and I certainly have lived in for 35 or 40 years.
I hope this will be an opportunity for the government to have to lay out why it went this way, why it didn't get an advanced judicial holding from a court after adversarial hearing, why it didn't hold the family in contempt bring them out of the house instead of going in and risking the possibility of danger. But I think it's going to be a hard case for the use of excessive force if the warrant was valid. I think the stronger case is on the invalidity of the warrant.
KLAYMAN: Greta, let me point something else out here, which is important. We're not just talking about the use of guns, we're talking about gassing people. When these agents came on the scene, they gassed the innocent bystanders outside. We have a lawsuit for them as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you don't just represent Donato, you represent others?
KLAYMAN: There is one other who has come forward thus far and who has brought a lawsuit, and he was gassed outside, and the people inside, Donato still suffering from the gas that was used.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donato, how were you harmed? How are you feeling the effects of what happened?
DALRYMPLE: Well, I can tell you right now, when you have a door busted down and you have a submachine gun put in your face, and the terror -- just think about what you seen on Elian's face on the way out of the house -- can you imagine if there was a video camera on the inside, what they were doing to us. I can tell, you, I haven't slept normal since that night. And just when you went to that commercial -- and I couldn't see it on the monitor, but I could hear the screaming and yelling. That still terrifies me. I'll tell you, I've been rendered a broken man over this. This has crushed my soul.
I mean, it's incredible what they did. I blame Greg Craig, and Juan Miguel Gonzalez and Janet Reno. I went there a week and a half earlier to try to put the families together.
Why is it in our country that we are embracing communism? Why didn't we force the families to meet together and bring Elian? Was wasn't it forced? Why wasn't it done? Was the most sensitive way for this little boy to be reunited with his father?
VAN SUSTEREN: And we're going to take a break, and we'll be right back with our remaining moments on LARRY KING LIVE. Stay with us.
VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back.
We're going to take a call from Nashville, Tennessee.
Go ahead, caller. Caller from Nashville, Tennessee, are you on the line?
VAN SUSTEREN: Hello, you're on. Go ahead. You have a question for our guests?
CALLER: Federal agents were forced to retrieve a hostage child, to return him to his father, his rightful custody. How does this violate the grandstanding fisherman's rights in any way?
KLAYMAN: Well, let me answer that. He wasn't a hostage child. He was there. He had been placed into the custody of this Miami family. And this was in no way a violation of a hostage child. In fact, the parole was still in effect. He could be in the United States, and he was here legally.
VAN SUSTEREN: Larry, would it would have made a difference if his parole had been revoked? Would that have made a difference.
KLAYMAN: Well, then he would have other kinds of rights that you should've passed through.
And Alan is absolutely right, the fact that the attorney general of the United States issues an order that this child should be transferred from the Miami family to the father, that is not self- executing; you have to go into a court of law, and they never did that. In fact, the 11th Circuit, the 11th Circuit rejected Reno's request to have him transferred, and just a few days later, she goes in with armed thugs.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan.
DERSHOWITZ: Larry, can I make a comment, just about the nature of the discussion that we're having here? I hope we don't politicize this with words, you know, like "communist" and "Democrat," "Republican," the same thing with the earlier part of the show. I really believe that the law should not be politicized. I hope that Larry Klayman uses as much energy if we have a Republican president to oppose raids of the INS on the homes of poor Mexicans.
KLAYMAN: I will, Alan, you have my pledge. DERSHOWITZ: And that's very important. And I hope that we can depoliticize these issues. It's very important that we look at this from a civil liberties perspective, and we look at this that the unfairness -- whether you're on Elian's father's side or on the Miami relative's side, or whether you're pro-Castro or anti-Castro, the important thing is the rights of citizens vis-a-vis government. And it doesn't matter what the politics are, the courts must uphold a kind of disinterested, objective view of the relationship between law enforcement and its agents.
KLAYMAN: You're absolutely right. You know, and Alan and I agreed on another point, and that is that prosecutors in this country are political. Judges are appointed in a political patronage process. We've got to change the system, and it's this politics which has perverted the justice system.
VAN SUSTEREN: Lee, you've been a very successful lawyer in civil case. The complaint asks for $100 million. What would you argue to get $100 million for Donato?
BAILEY: I don't think Mr. Donato can support any damages of substance, and $100 million is silly.
VAN SUSTEREN: Larry, $100 million -- I mean, I've pled big damages in cases, but that seems like an awful lot.
KLAYMAN: Lee does some civil work. He's primarily a criminal lawyer. But he knows that punitive damages enter into this, and these damages are designed so never, ever again in this country can we ever allow something like this to happen. That picture, which was taken by that Associated Press photographer, will go down in infamy. It's one of the worst images we've ever seen in our 224 years. And the amount of damage is meant to prevent this from ever happening, in large part.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donato, let me ask Donato -- Donato, how much money do you think you'll get if you win this case?
KLAYMAN: That's a lawyer's question, Greta. The Miami jury.
VAN SUSTEREN: How much is it worth to you, Donato?
KLAYMAN: This isn't a game show.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donato, how much is this worth to you, to settle the case?
KLAYMAN: This is something he's not responding to. We're in litigation right now, and Alan made a good point, that this is a serious matter, which is not going to be dealt with in a public relations way.
DERSHOWITZ: But I can give you some facts on this one, too. In Massachusetts a few years ago, police broke into the home of the wrong man. He was a minister, and they didn't have a warrant for his home, and he died of a heart attack as the result. And the damages were substantial. But they range in the range, if I remember correctly, of about $100,000 to $200,000 dollars. I'm not in favor of adding zeros to the ends of lawsuit. I think it tends to trivialize the legal system.
This is a substantial claim. And if he's right that he hasn't been the same since and if he can establish liability, a number should be attached to it, but I don't think we should be adding zeros.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, I mean, there are two issues here, and Larry, correct me if I'm wrong. One is compensatory, you know, how much he was hurt, but the other is to send a message, if the federal government violated constitutional rights, then you get to send a message with something called punitive damages, then doesn't it warrant a bigger number?
DERSHOWITZ: It does a bigger number, but the number has to be a reasonable one. After all, it would come from all of us, the taxpayers, and $100 million just does seem excessive to me.
But I would hope that there would be a serious consideration by the courts of this claim. It's too infrequent that courts look at actions of government after the fact and make them justify actions. And in a democracy, that's essential.
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead, Lee.
BAILEY: How in the world, Alan, do you come up with any basis for punitive damages against either the government or the attorney general of the United States? That's a new one on me.
KLAYMAN: Well, it's intentional, it's reckless and it's grossly negligent. That's the standard of punitive damages here.
BAILEY: I asked Alan, Larry.
KLAYMAN: Well, Alan knows the law.
DERSHOWITZ: I think that you can come up with damages against officials, but it's going to be hard. The attorney general of the United States has all kinds of immunity. That's going to be a problem in this case.
BAILEY: And not punitive.
DERSHOWITZ: The Bibbins Doctrine is a limited doctrine. I hope it gets to court, and I hope it provides an opportunity to air out and let the disinfectant of sunshine enter into what is often a very secretive proceeding.
VAN SUSTEREN: And Alan, I've got to interrupt you, because that's all the time we have for LARRY KING LIVE. Thanks to the guests, and thanks for joining us.
Coming up On NEWSSTAND. the trial of NFL star Ray Lewis now under way. I will take you calls and your e-mails. And for LARRY KING LIVE. this is Greta Van Susteren. Good night.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.