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Larry King Live

Is the Bush Administration Taking a Tougher Line Against Iraq?

Aired February 16, 2001 - 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, American and British warplanes attack targets around Baghdad. Is the Bush administration taking a tougher line against Iraq? Joining us with the latest, CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour in London; on the ground in Baghdad, CNN's Jane Arraf and in Topeka, Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Then, beyond the controversial pardon to Marc Rich, the man. We'll talk with former New York police commissioner Howard Safir. He chased Rich as chief of operations for the U.S. Marshal Service. In Tampa, former assistant U.S. attorney turned defense lawyer Sandy Weinberg, former lead prosecutor in the Rich case and "Time" magazine senior correspondent Michael Weisskopf, who covered this story.

Plus, through tragedy and triumph, she believes she's been touched by an angel: actress, author, ordained minister, Della Reese. All next, on LARRY KING LIVE.

We asked a representative of the Bush administration to come on with us tonight. They declined. Christiane Amanpour in London, can you briefly bring us up to date? What happened today?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you've heard from the Pentagon and from British government that there was an air strike conducted against Iraq, against five targets, some of them quite near Baghdad, all to do with Iraq's integrated air defense system. This, we are told, was because of a marked increase in threats to allied aircraft, allied being U.S. and British aircraft, that patrol the no flight zones. There are two no-flight zones, north and south of Iraq.

According to the British Ministry of Defense, the number of threats, the number of missiles they had aimed at their planes were, in the month of January this year alone, exceeded the entire number of threats that the allied warplanes received in the year 2000. So, that's the long and the short of what we've been told.

In Britain and in America, they're calling it self-defense. They're saying that the pilots needed some action because they were feeling under increased threat. They called it a measured and targeted response. President Bush, you heard, called it a routine response to enforce the no-flight zone.

You know, this is the first time in two years, just over two years, that such intense strikes, relatively, have taken place, and certainly, near Baghdad. There have, over the last several years, been repeated routine strikes against being threatened in the no- flight zones, but this is the closest it's come to Baghdad in the last couple years.

KING: And Jane Arraf on the ground in Baghdad, our CNN correspondent, what are they saying in the Iraqi capital?

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, it's 5:00 in morning here and Iraqi television is still on air with new information on casualties. They're continuing to show pictures of what they say are civilian wounded. The latest, they say, is a dead man, a civilian. They have showed his body on television. Died in hospital, they said, of his injuries sustained by shrapnel. Earlier they had said that a woman died in hospital.

Now, this attack happened on a Friday, the Muslim holy day when there were lots of people in the streets, a traditional evening for families to be going out in streets. The attack that they have shown, the aftermath of the attack on Iraqi television, was on the outskirts of Baghdad.

There has been no information on what military sites were attacked. In just about a half an hour, people will be going to prayer. The devout will be going to morning prayer and a lot of them will be praying, Larry, that this is not just the start of more air strikes, as President Saddam Hussein has warned.

KING: Senator Brownback in Topeka, you're chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near-Eastern and South Asian Affairs, that includes Iraq, why this kind of measure? You haven't done this in two years.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: Well, I think it's a firm statement by President Bush, but I wouldn't over-read it. It really is more in the routine area in that there have been bombing that's been going on for some period of time. It seems like it's really more of a test that Saddam Hussein is issuing towards President Bush because he stepped up their aggressive activity in Iraq, and President Bush firmly responded.

KING: Who, senator, is over-reading it?

BROWNBACK: Well, I think there's a lot of media reading that does this signal a new Bush policy in Iraq? Is this somehow the start of something additional? And I would look at it as saying that this is a firm response to what the Iraqis have been doing of locking on to U.S. aircraft.

But it's really going at those key command and control radar systems that do the locking on, and that's what we have been doing over the past several years. They did go broader into -- further into Iraqi territory, above that 33rd parallel, but I wouldn't read it really too much past the nature of military operation into a new policy.

KING: Christiane, is anything being read into the timing of this. Bush makes his first overseas trip today, goes to Mexico, and this happens corresponding?

AMANPOUR: Well, I don't think so much in terms of President Bush's first trip overseas, but certainly, in terms of this is the new administration, a new American president, it's almost to the day the anniversary, the tenth anniversary of the end of Gulf War, which ended to an extent conclusively and yet to an extent unsatisfactory in that they have left for the last 10 years in trying to cope with this regime in Baghdad.

Also, it comes at a time when a new administration says that it is reviewing and reassessing its policy towards Iraq. Some members of the administration, Secretary Powell has talked about re-energizing sanctions, reviewing the whole -- the policy, and, you know, and being tough on Iraq. It's going to be difficult in terms to see how this is going to move forward on the sanctions front, and that's presumably going to be part of what Secretary Powell takes to the Middle East when he goes there next week.

It's a very, very unpopular mechanism, the sanctions. It's being condemned by allies and other countries in the region. And it is being frayed and violated almost daily now. So this, in England, they're saying tonight, ministers here and officials here, that this sanctions and strikes policy against Iraq that we, the allies, have conducted over the last 10 years may not be the best policy, it may not be satisfactory, but it's the only policy we have right now, and as your senator just said, it's a continuation of what we saw over the years of the Clinton administration.

KING: Jane, in Baghdad, are they denying violation of the safe fly zone?

ARRAF: The Iraqis have always denied violations of the no-fly zones, Larry, because they don't recognize the no-fly zones. They point out that there is no specific U.N. resolution authorizing this, that it is simply U.S. and Britain and originally France, which has since dropped out, which decided that they needed to keep Iraq from flying out of its own airspace.

In the last two years, Iraq decided that it is going to challenge these no-fly zones, and has done so by trying to shoot down U.S. and British planes. They have obviously been unsuccessful so far, but the feeling and the hope here is that one of these days they will get lucky and shoot down a plane -- Larry.

KING: Senator Brownback, is the efforts against Saddam Hussein a failure?

BROWNBACK: Oh, I wouldn't put it as a failure, but it certainly has been inconclusive. We're now into our third presidency in dealing with Saddam Hussein in a very aggressive fashion, and while he is out of Kuwait and he's controlled and limited somewhat in his own country, he still threatens. He still is trying to build weapons of mass destruction.

He still is really a thorn in our side, and so I think you'll see, then, is there going to be a re-energizing and there's one other component I would watch, and that's the United States' relationship with the Iraqi National Congress. This is the group within and outside the country that as Iraqis, is attempting to move and tighten Saddam Hussein's reign of terror in that country and we may see some more support go towards them in the future.

KING: Thank you very much: Senator Sam Brownback, Jane Arraf, and Christiane Amanpour, staying up late. We really appreciate it. When we come back, we'll talk to Howard Safir, Sandy Weinberg, and Michael Weisskopf about the man, Marc Rich. And then Della Reese.

By the way, guests next week include Bette Midler, Judge Judy; next Wednesday night together, Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell, first time they've been together since they were married on television. You'll remember that incident. Don Imus next Thursday. Tiger Woods a week from tonight. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm. We will enforce the no-fly zone both south and north. Our intention is to make sure that the world is as peaceful as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Now we're going to spend some moments discussing this man, Marc Rich. Joining us from Washington, Howard Safir, former New York City police commissioner, chief of operations for the U.S. Marshal Service from '78 through '90 and he headed the pursuit of Marc Rich.

In Tampa, is Morris "Sandy" Weinberg. Sandy is the former assistant U.S. attorney, lead prosecutor in the case against Marc Rich and his partner, Pincus Green, who was also pardoned. Currently a defense lawyer with Zuckerman and Spaeder, specializing, by the way, in white-collar crime.

And in Washington, Michael Weisskopf, the terrific senior correspondent for "Time" magazine, who has covered the saga of the Rich pardon.

Howard -- and by way, we invited people representing Mr. Rich to appear tonight and were unsuccessful.

Howard, the people generally on his side are saying that this is a phony RICO thing. RICO covers a wide area, and so they decided to charge him under RICO. This should have been civil. How do you respond?

HOWARD SAFIR, FORMER U.S. MARSHAL: Well, I'm not a lawyer, but I do know there was an indictment. There was a warrant for his arrest. And if this was a phony charge, then should have he shown up in court and answered the indictment.

KING: Now, you've -- why do you think him such a bad individual? What is it about Marc Rich that is villainous?

SAFIR: Well, when you talk to people who know Marc Rich, you hear that he is cold. He's calculating. The only thing he cares about is the deal, and in fact, when you look at what he did, he thumbed his nose at the United States. He fled to Zug to live in luxury, and he dealt with the Iranians while they were torturing and holding our people hostage. This is not a good guy.

KING: Sandy Weinberg, what do you make of the love that some people have for him, if love may be too outstretched a word? There are people in Israel, people like Barak others, leading rabbis and other people asking for this.

MORRIS "SANDY" WEINBERG, FORMER MARC RICH PROSECUTOR: Well, I guess I don't really understand. I mean, I know that he's -- what he's done over the past 20 years that I have followed him, he did it back in 1981, '82, '83, and he's done it now. He's thrown a lot of money at a lot of people.

He threw money in Switzerland and he was able to stay there for the 17 years. He's given money, some of which for charitable purposes, in Israel but as a result, I believe, a number of people wrote letters for him. But let there be no mistake about it.

We had a very strong case against Mr. Rich. It was the biggest tax fraud in the history of the United States. He made $100 million worth of income that happened to be illegal. He concocted a scheme to launder those profits out of the United States. He evaded $48 million in taxes.

He did a lot of things during the investigation that made the case so internationally famous. He attempted to obstruct the investigation. When he finally got indicted, he ran. He fled. He renounced citizenship. He traded with the Iranians when the hostages were in place there. I mean, this is a man that has manipulated the system for many, many years, and I think that's what he is doing now as well.

KING: Sandy, I don't want to put words in your mouth, were you shocked at pardon?

WEINBERG: I was beyond shocked. I mean, I'm a Democrat, a lifelong one. I voted for Mr. Clinton twice. I went -- I grew up in Tennessee. I've known Al Gore for many years. I was beyond shocked. I was absolutely astonished and I'm outraged.

KING: Michael, why don't we hear anything -- not much about Pincus Green?

MICHAEL WEISSKOPF, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Rich is really the central player in here, and he's identified with the worldwide trading interests for which he's gained a name. This is a deal-maker of mythic proportions and he's used to dealing in actual resources. Here he's dealt with political capital to consummate a deal of a lifetime.

Pinky Green is a more modest character. He even suggested that he severe his own relationship with Rich in this case so as not to muddy the waters for Rich's pardon.

KING: Do you share the views of Mr. Weinberg and Mr. Safir, Michael, as a journalist, that this is a major villain?

WEISSKOPF: You know, I can only defer to experts on this case. I'm not a prosecutor, even people -- even anyone who makes those kinds of judgments, but it's a hell of a story. And what's happened here, and how he's bought his way back into this country is extraordinary.

KING: Howard, his attorney, Mr. Quinn, told us he would not have taken this case if he thought that Mr. Rich would not come back to United States and fully expects him to come back. Do you expect him to come back?

SAFIR: I don't believe he will come back. I don't think he has any interest in the United States. He wasn't born here. He doesn't consider himself an American. And my belief is that he wanted this pardon for one reason, and that was so that he could travel unimpeded and do his deals.

KING: Not, as his ex-wife said, reported to have said to see the grave of his late daughter?

SAFIR: I don't know anything about that. All I know about this man is this is who guy considers himself a citizen of the world, who is encumbered by the petty laws of nations.

KING: Sandy, he made the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. I thought that list generally dealt with people who took lives?

WEINBERG: Well, I think it was the 10 Most Wanted list from an international perspective, and then I assume that Mr. Vesco was on there as well. I mean, I believe that Marc -- and Howard will be able to tell you, I think in addition to Robert Vesco, he and Mr. Green were the most wanted white-collar fugitives in the world and had been for the last 17 years.

KING: Is that true, Howard?

SAFIR: No question about it. No question about it. And, when you look at the amount of money involved here, he makes Robert Vesco, who is a world-class fugitive, look like a piker.

KING: Michael, where do you think all of it's going to go?

WEISSKOPF: Larry, there are still big unanswered questions here about what exactly motivated President Clinton. We're beginning to see new pieces form, and we're moving a story tonight on time.com showing a secret Israeli mission five years ago to try to relieve some of the travel restrictions imposed on Mr. Rich by the extradition treaties we have with countries worldwide.

And, certainly, the Israelis were a huge piece of this. Prime Minister Barak called President Clinton three times. We don't know entirely what motivated him. We know Marc Rich was a huge philanthropist, a huge source of money for causes charitable, artistic and political, most likely in Israel. But it's -- the story continues to unfold.

KING: We'll be calling on all of you again. Thanks for the update. Howard Safir, Sandy Weinberg and Michael Weisskopf. We'll take a break and come back with Della Reese on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Della Reese, actress, singer, author and co-star of "Touched by an Angel." She's an ordained minister, as well. This program is in the top 20 of the most-watched prime time shows in both white and black households. How do you account for its success?

DELLA REESE, "TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL": Well, we say things that most people don't hear. You know, there are some people, Larry, who only speak to the cashier at the supermarket. They have no conversation with anybody. They live alone. They haven't seen their families in a long time. And we come on in the midst of that and say, God is consciously aware of you. You are not here by yourself. You are loved.

KING: Were you were a hit from the start? Was "Touched by an Angel"...

REESE: Oh, no, no, no. They gave us four shows to start. Then they gave us two more. Then they gave us three more, and that way until we got to 13. Then they told to us go home or get another job because it was over.

KING: And then what happened?

REESE: Then other people rallied to us and they liked it.

KING: The public itself.

REESE: Absolutely, rallied to us. They liked us, and they told them that they liked us, and they brought us back.

KING: The stories are all spiritually based; right? And angel -- you're an angel; right?

REESE: Yes, they're spiritually based, but it's about human beings and what they go through. We don't say, stop that. Do this. We say have you ever thought about it this way? That's not the only way it could go. It could go like this. Look over here. You see. God is over here and he wants to help you with this.

KING: Back with more of Della Reese. We will include phone calls as well. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL")

ROMA DOWNEY, ACTRESS: Shoot.

REESE: Oh, don't worry about it. You'll have it when you need it.

DOWNEY: Are you sure this is how it's done?

REESE: You are speaking to the angel who told the Babe which way to point. And you know who kept Kirk Gibson in that locker room until he was ready to hit that home run? Now, keep your eye on the ball, and line up your knuckles.

DOWNEY: Fire away.

REESE: Yes. Yes. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL")

REESE (singing): The Lord moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps on the sea, and he rides on every storm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We thought, Della, that was passe that kind of -- it's kind of, you know -- not hokey...

REESE: Well, yes.

KING: Sentimental.

REESE: I guess Christmas is passe, and Thanksgiving when the family comes, and...

KING: Well, we were wrong.

REESE: Yes, absolutely. You need -- we need each. We need a time when we feel for each other, when we care for each other.

KING: You didn't take this show right away, though.

REESE: No, I didn't want it. I didn't want it. I had been on "Royal Family" with Redd Foxx. Redd Foxx fell in my arms and they pronounced him dead, and we followed him to the hospital, praying all of us, and he came back and stayed 4 1/2 hours. And we were sitting out in the lobby, and the doctor comes over to Mrs. Foxx and says, your husband has gone.

And the powers that be, she is sitting where you are, stood right there and said, well, what are we going to do with this script? It was written for Redd and Della, who are we going to put in here in Redd's place. I went berserk. It just -- it was too much for me. I was sitting here, they just told her.

KING: Show business.

REESE: You know, and so I decided I wouldn't ever do television again, at all.

KING: What got you back?

REESE: Well, my husband takes me on honeymoon every year. I've had 22 honeymoons, and it was time to go on the honeymoon. And so the agent called and said, you know, I got this good job for you. It's a pilot but it's never going to sell.

KING: They'll pay.

REESE: But the money is really good. You don't have to carry it. It will only take two, three weeks of work, and I said, you know, I'm on the way to a honeymoon. He said have you ever been to Wilmington, North Carolina? It's an old city, and then he gave me the price and I said I'm packing, getting ready to have honeymoon in Wilmington.

KING: And that's where they did the pilot.

REESE: That's where we did the pilot.

KING: The show, though, is shot in Salt Lake.

REESE: Absolutely.

KING: Do you like it there?

REESE: Except for the winters. I don't like the winters. I don't like snow. I was born in Detroit, Michigan, which is an island, so I've had enough of cold and snow. But the people there are wonderful, you know.

KING: I know the Utahans.

REESE: They're very wonderful people. Our guest is Della Reese. She's with us the remainder of the show. We'll be taking calls for Della. We'll talk about other aspects of her life. She is a minister herself. She's the star of "Touched by an Angel." This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REESE: I represent Campbell Soup, but I'm more interested in your knowing about the value of soup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so we know it's good for you.

REESE: Very good for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you do with it?

REESE: I can do almost anything from a cake to a dip. But I brought something that the studio can have for lunch today. And it's all made out of things that you already have at home: a little oil, a little Worcestershire sauce, a little hot sauce, a little onion, a little garlic, a can of soup, a little...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can almost make your own lunch on the road, right?

REESE: I'm making your lunch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You've done lot of things. Campbell Soup...

REESE: That was a good job.

KING: I knew Della Reese as a singer.

REESE: That's right.

KING: That's what you started as. You got famous as a singer.

REESE: And you helped me to get famous because...

KING: You had hit records I used to play.

REESE: During the time when I had records, I could come and do your show.

KING: You did my radio show. We had a lot of fun.

REESE: Yes.

KING: When did this other -- all these other things happen, singing -- from singing to acting to minister?

REESE: I try to make a living. See, I was a working singer. I wasn't working for the Grammy, you know. I was working to pay the rent. I had a child.

KING: You had some big hits, though.

REESE: Yeah, I had a child. I was working to -- and so when that didn't go that way and it was another job over here, I took this job because I had to support her. I was a single parent. And if that wasn't working, I did some of this, you see, to keep us going, which is good, because it gave me a chance to be in a lot of different fields.

KING: And then in the middle of singing on "The Tonight Show" in 1979 -- that's 22 years ago, you get a stroke.

REESE: My brain exploded.

KING: We all saw this.

REESE: Yes, everybody in that audience saw it.

KING: They didn't show it when they showed...

REESE: No, they didn't run the show, but everybody that was there that night saw it.

KING: How close were you to dying?

REESE: They thought I was already dead. I had this aneurysm to rupture in my brain.

KING: How old were you? You were young.

REESE: I'm going to be 70, so I was...

KING: So you were, 50, 48?

REESE: Whatever, yeah. But I was singing and it just like that happened.

KING: What saved you?

REESE: I believe that what saved me was I didn't know what was going on, and before I hit the ground, I said, "I put my spirits in your hands, father." And then I blacked out.

KING: You've always been a believer?

REESE: Yes. It came from my mother. My mother had a personal one-on-one-in-one relationship with God. I mean, it wasn't...

KING: You talked to him like Tevia (ph).

REESE: We didn't go to -- I don't mean we went to church on Sunday. I mean, if she got up from here now to go into the hall, she would say, "Father, we got to go in the hall now."

KING: Oh, that kind of relationship.

REESE: You know, so...

KING: You grew up with God.

REESE: Normal mean, you know, my normal mean. "We're going to cook, father. We've got to go in here and cook now."

KING: Now you're also a minister and your ministry is the Understanding Principles for Better Living in Los Angeles.

REESE: Yes.

KING: What kind of ministry is that?

REESE: It's a Christian organization. I teach the Bible. But you cannot do something you do not understand. And God has left for us principles that if we work by them, we can have what Jesus said he came to bring us: life and that more abundantly. Most people are not consciously aware of the principles. Most people feel like, "Well, I'm in trouble and there's nothing I can do." They beg in prayer instead of claiming what is really theirs. And what we are teaching is how to understand what God left for us to use and use it in your life so you can live better here now, because Jesus said the only time is now. He didn't say anything about, you know, the Beulah (ph) land and over in the glory and all of that.

KING: Isn't it harder to keep your faith when you see earthquake in India?

REESE: But it's there. See, we don't get to the book. In the book, it says there will be wars and rumors of wars. It said the world would have earthquakes and storms. And then it said on top of that, "Don't you worry about it."

KING: So when you see that child dying in India, you say that child's going somewhere?

REESE: No, no, I don't want to see -- I, human being, do not want to see the child die in India. That's why I send money for the food and money for the medicine.

KING: But you know a child...

REESE: But a child is going to die not only in India. Right there on Krenshaw one's going to die.

KING: OK.

REESE: OK?

KING: How do you accept that?

REESE: It's difficult. It's difficult to accept that. I wish I could straighten it out, but I cannot me personally alone. I can get together with some other people and try to help it out, but there's going to be death.

KING: Do you believe in angels?

REESE: Of course. I could not possibly be where I am from whence I came if there had not been angels along the way to show me which way to go.

KING: Those angels, when you had a husband who beat you, and you had a tough time...

REESE: There was an angel there. There was an angel there. Here name was Ernestine Runners (ph). She got in her car and she came and got me, and she took me out of there. You see, I didn't have -- he had me so frightened. I believed him when he said he would kill me, because he had beaten me so bad already, what was the step between beating me that bad and killing me, you see? And she got in her car and she came and she said, "Come out of there. I'm taking you away from here."

KING: You never doubted your faith? Did you doubt it with the aneurysm?

REESE: No, no, that's why I'm here, because I didn't believe the propaganda. A man came in my room every day after my brain exploded and explained to me why I had to die and gave me percentages.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: When you see someone who's spokesman for the...

REESE: He gave me percentages, nine out of 12, four out of seven.

KING: When you see a spokesperson for the Lord, Jesse Jackson, stray...

REESE: Yes.

KING: ... how do you...

REESE: You have to understand. Because I'm preaching and teaching does not mean that there's nothing that I need to learn anymore. It does not mean that there are things that I shouldn't do and even know I shouldn't do, but the human side of me will do. So I have to keep working with my consciousness all the time. We all make mistakes, you know. Because you get a reverend in front of your name does not mean that you are perfect and...

KING: So you are not judgmental?

REESE: No, judge not unless you can't stand to be -- I can't judge you because of some stuff I don't want you to judge me on.

KING: Yeah, don't -- if I start on you, you may start on me.

REESE: Oh, yes.

KING: Our guest is Della Reese. She's the star of "Touched by an Angel," a roaring hit and a deserved one. We'll include some of your phone calls when we come back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN")

REESE: Are you going to be grabbing my (expletive deleted) like old Congressman Johnson?

EDDIE MURPHY, ACTOR: Oh, no, I would never grab your (expletive deleted.)

REESE: Well, you said that awful fast. What's wrong with my (expletive deleted)?

MURPHY: Oh, there's nothing wrong with your (expletive deleted). I'm just, you know, I'm -- you know, I'm a new congressman. I ain't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) old things he did. I ain't going to grab nobody's old (expletive deleted). I mean, I ain't going to grab nobody's (expletive deleted). Hey, I think we're on the fourth floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll grab it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Did you like working with Eddie? That was from "The Distinguished Gentlemen."

REESE: I loved...

KING: That was a terrific movie.

REESE: Yes, I loved working with Eddie.

KING: Let's take a call. Cain in New York for Della Reese, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

REESE: Hello.

CALLER: How are you?

REESE: I'm superb, but so are you.

CALLER: Five years ago, you did a show in regards to cleft palates.

REESE: Yes.

CALLER: And I had a daughter born the same time, which I also named Emily. And she was born with cleft palate. How did you come up with the idea to do that?

REESE: Well, I didn't come up with the idea. Martha Williamson, who is our executive producer and the head writer, came up with that idea.

KING: Did they cure your daughter with surgery?

CALLER: She's had 16 all together.

KING: Cleft palate is when that break in the lip line and they talk funny.

REESE: Yes, we brought some children over from Peru and worked with them, Smile.

KING: That group.

REESE: That group, Smile, brought them over.

KING: Denver, Colorado for Della Reese, hello.

CALLER: Hi.

REESE: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Della. My husband and I watch all the time, and we love the show. I was wondering what the most special thing is that's ever happened to you because of the show.

REESE: The people, what they say to me when they talk to me. They stop me in the airport, in the lady's room, in the grocery store, and they tell me how the show has helped their lives.

KING: You believe the show does help lives?

REESE: Absolutely. A lady told me, listen -- a lady came -- I'm on the plane. It's 10:30 at night. They pick me up at 6:30 in the morning and I don't want to know nothing about nothing. I want to take a nap so I'll be all right when I meet my husband in Los Angeles off the plane. And the lady stops by my seat and says, "Thank you for saving my life." And I must have said something in my face. She said, "No, I'm serious. You saved my of life. I was having a conversation with my husband, who was 26, and in the conversation, he died. Nothing was wrong with him. He just died.

I could not deal with it. I have two small children. I couldn't help my children because I couldn't help myself. I don't know how I got in the living room, but the TV was on, and I saw this scene of the angel of death coming to get this man who was laying in his bed singing while his family was surrounding him. And I know this man was so much like my husband, everything about him was like my husband. And it made me know that where my husband was, somebody came and got him. And he's fine where he is, and I was able to help myself. And I was able to help my children. Thank you for saving my life.:

KING: Do you believe that you go somewhere when you die?

REESE: Yes, I believe spirits go back to God where they came from in the first place.

KING: So the spirit came from God...

REESE: Absolutely.

KING: ... and goes back to God?

REESE: That's what you are. This is just a body you're in. The real you is that spirit of God inside of you, and me, too.

KING: How well does that show and do you do in the Mormon community?

REESE: I have no problem. You know, now if I listened to the propaganda, I would have had trouble up there, because there were all these things. They don't allow the black people to do this and they don't -- and I'm not used to not being allowed to do what I want to do. And they don't watch this. I haven't seen any of that.

KING: Not true. REESE: Nobody has pushed me to change my faith, nobody. That was a lot of stuff. It's wonderful. The people are wonderful. Only thing wrong up there is it snows up to your knees.

KING: It snows. Do you ever want to go back to just singing?

REESE: I do. I miss singing very much. I miss it very much.

KING: Because you are a singer, man.

REESE: Thank you. I miss it very much. I miss the feelings of the vibrations in my body when I sing. I get to sing on Sunday morning in church. But to just really get out and sing for a couple hours, I haven't done that.

KING: You sang with Godfrey, right?

REESE: Absolutely.

KING: I mean, you were on shows. You did night clubs. You worked in Miami Beach hotels.

REESE: Yes.

KING: Della was around.

REESE: I worked the Copa Cabana.

KING: Not bad. Do you like acting, too?

REESE: I like it. See, I've been here so long, Larry, that everybody has a way they think I am, you know?

KING: They've typed you.

REESE: Yeah, and when I -- and where they are, they expect me to be that way. But when I'm acting, I'm not being me. I can be whoever I want to be.

KING: You work with stroke, too, don't you, stroke victims?

REESE: Yes, I do.

KING: We learn a lot about stroke all the time, the institute at Harvard, the Mahoney Institute and the like and getting involved with it.

REESE: Yes, yes. What's so wonderful is most -- especially people in our generation, if you had a stroke, that was it. There was nothing you could do about it.

KING: Your life was over.

REESE: Yes. Now there's something you can do about it. There are people who are returning from that experience. I'm one of them. And aneurysm is a form of a stroke. KING: Correct.

REESE: I'm returning from that, you know. And this happened in 1979, 22 years after it's happened.

KING: Do you have high blood pressure?

REESE: I think so.

KING: That's usually the number one cause.

REESE: Yeah, yeah, I have that. Yeah, I think so.

KING: Do you take care of yourself, Della?

REESE: Yes, I do.

KING: Do you get regular checkups or do you figure God just likes you and the heck with it?

REESE: Yes, God likes me very much. Yes, I do figure that. And he will protect me. Yes, I do figure that. But, of course, I have checkups. I'm not an idiot. I go to the doctor and whatever is needed to do. But I'm not pressed down by the fact that my blood pressure is high. I don't wear that as a badge: Now I can't do this because my blood pressure is high and I can't eat this because my blood -- that's not me.

KING: Do you have inspirational books that come out every month.

REESE: Yes, yes, absolutely

KING: One a month.

REESE: Absolutely. I'm a teaching ministry. I'm, teaching how to understand these principles.

KING: You're also an industry, aren't you?

REESE: Yes, yes.

KING: We'll be right back with more calls for Della Reese on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night, a retrospective of our interviews with Tom Hanks. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARLEM NIGHTS"

REESE: You done insulted me, and I got to kick your (expletive deleted) right now. And afterwards, I don't want no hard feelings either.

EDDIE MURPHY, ACTOR: What the (expletive deleted) is wrong with you?

REESE: Ain't nothing wrong with me. What the (expletive deleted) is wrong with you. You done accused of me stealing. The only thing I'm stealing today is your face.

MURPHY: You out of you (expletive deleted) mine.

REESE: Oh, yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Come on, sucker. Let's get it on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If talent and personality are truly gifts from above, then Della Reese really has been touched by an angel. Please join me in welcoming Della Reese.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What was them apples like?

REESE: That was good. That was good. Can you imagine, a little girl from between Hastings and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on Verna Highway then hugged by the president of the United States of America?

KING: This little girl who was, by the age 13 was on the road with Mahalia Jackson, at age 18, had her own gospel act in Vegas. In 1957, "Billboard" magazine named her the most promising girl singer. She sang with Erskine Hawkins (ph) Orchestra. She had a Grammy nomination for best female vocalist and a Grammy nomination for best female soloist in gospel. First black woman to host her own nationally syndicated TV talk show. Television series included "Charlie & Company," and "Chico and the Man.

Galesburg, Illinois for Della Reese. Hello.

CALLER: Yes.

REESE: Hello, there.

CALLER: Hi. Ms. Reese, I've seen that you know the president. How well do you -- hello?

KING: Yeah, go ahead.

CALLER: I see that you know the president. How well do you know him and what do you think about all this flap about the pardons?

REESE: Well, now, I don't know about the pardons. I can't talk to you about that. I'm just hearing some news about that. But for him as a president, I think he did very good work. I think that it's time to get over him, and let him go on about and live his of life and we go on with our lives. I think that.

KING: We go to Plymouth, Michigan -- hello.

CALLER: Hello. This is Jeff Wilson from Plymouth, Michigan.

KING: Go right ahead, sir.

CALLER: Della Reese and I -- well, actually, my wife and I saw Della Reese at a Black Angus in Plymouth, Michigan. We live seven miles north of here now and my wife was pregnant back when we first met. And I worked for a bank and all I had was a check from the bank. That's how we got paid was directly into our accounts. My wife and I went behind the stage after her performance. And she looked at me and looked at endorsing the back of a check, which I had put a lot of excess through, but she was kind enough to endorse it and I still have it to this day.

REESE: Oh, that's very sweet.

KING: I'd cash it, sir. It's about time you had a little money coming to you. Thank you. That's a nice story.

Kerman, California, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry and Della. How are you doing tonight?

REESE: Good evening.

KING: Just fine.

CALLER: I have two questions for you, Della.

KING: Go.

CALLER: How much longer do you plan on doing the show?

REESE: Well, I think about three more seasons.

CALLER: And how do you get along personally with the actors, Roma and John?

REESE: Roma is my baby. She is my other daughter. And John is my other son. We get along beautifully.

KING: They were on this show together one night. It was great.

REESE: Yes.

KING: You officiated her wedding. It didn't go well.

REESE: Well, but the wedding was beautiful.

KING: You can marry people.

REESE: Absolutely.

KING: Our guest is the wonderful Della Reese. Bette Midler is here on Monday. Next Wednesday night, Darva Conger and Rock Rockwell are going to be on this show together. First time together since they got married on television, spent a honeymoon night where nothing happened. Got mad at each other. They're going to be sitting here together next Wednesday night.

"Touched by an Angel." Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL")

REESE: What's going on in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. It's awfully quiet in there. Maybe they're taking a vote.

REESE: Well, you go in there and stop it until I can speak to Monica.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't.

REESE: Yes you can. I just found out the truth. Now you go in there or I will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

REESE: And give me one good reason why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I have an assignment here, too.

REESE: Who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You.

REESE: Me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You.

REESE: Me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SANFORD & SON)

RED FOXX, ACTOR: Della, Della, I mean, Ms. Reese.

REESE: That's all right. That's all right. You can call me Della, Della, Della.

FOXX: And you can whatever you want to. I'll come.

REESE: Can I call you Fred?

FOXX: Fred? Did you hear that Elizabeth? Della called me Fred. Honey, can you find something do for a couple hours? Della and I have some business to talk over. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

KING: He was something, wasn't he?

REESE: He was magnificent. He was magnificent. Very much underrated.

KING: And funny.

REESE: Very much underrated.

KING: Well, I've had people think he was one of the funniest men ever lived.

REESE: Ever, ever, absolutely. He was the kind of a man, Larry, that if you saw him approaching you and he hadn't said anything, and he is on the other end of the block, when you said something, you say, "Look, here come Red. Here come Red." He hadn't done a thing. He's just walking down the street. He carried that comedy in him.

KING: Yeah, he did.

REESE: Absolutely.

KING: I'm told that the gentleman who had that long story about the checkbook wanted to ask if you want to go singing again, and do you still sing? Do you ever do club dates?

REESE: I want to go. I don't have a chance to go, because we work from the 15th of July until after the 15th of May. So when I get through with that, I want to lay down a lot. I've been making movies in between, but I want to go back to work. I miss singing. It's a part of me.

KING: You say you want to do three more years of the show...

REESE: Absolutely.

KING: ... because you're still loving it, right?

REESE: Absolutely. I was promised by God that we should do it for 10 years. So that' why I'm secure in the fact that we will.

KING: All right, when you say promised, God talk to you now?

REESE: Absolutely. See, you just like the rest of them. Yes, he does. Talks to me.

KING: How does he talk to you, Della?

REESE: It just -- just like I'm talking to you. I hear him just like I'm talking to you. When "Touched by Angel" came up, I told you I didn't want to do this anymore, because of what had happened. And I went to -- my husband told me -- my husband is a spiritual man, too. He said don't turn this down, ask God about it. So I went in, got in my bed, and I'm sitting in my bed, and I said, "Father, you know, I don't want to do this. You know why I don't want to do this. I don't like this and I don't like that. And I don't like the other, and it's clearly as I'm speaking to you, he said, "Do this for me." I would let that be. I'm so much smarter than God. I started to explain to him what he didn't know about why I didn't want to do this, see. And I'm explaining, and he listened to all this stupid stuff. And when I finished, he said, "Do this for me. And you can retire in 10 years.

KING: You're a piece of work, you know it?

REESE: Am I?

KING: You heard a voice say that?

REESE: Absolutely.

KING: A distinct male voice?

REESE: Absolutely. A voice. I don't know if it was male or female. I never stopped to think about that. It was just a very profound voice. And it's so funny to me. When I went -- when they sent us home after 13 weeks, I said to the people on the job. the crew, "Don't take another job. I know you've got work to make living, but don't get hung up on anything, because we're coming back next season, and we're going to be the hit of the season. I know this is true because God told me so." OK, so everybody did just like you did: "Oh, you heard a voice? Did you hear a voice?" We came back and we were the hit of the season. And man for man, one by one, they said, "Come here, Dell. What did God say about next season?"

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You got a pipeline, right?

REESE: Absolutely.

KING: You think everybody could have it?

REESE: Everybody has it. You just don't use it.

KING: Thank you, Della.

REESE: God bless you.

KING: God bless you. Della Reese. If you look up the term, "one of a kind" in a dictionary, you get her picture. Della Reese, the star of "Touched by Angel." By the way, check out my Web site. Log on to cnn.com/larryking, and you can send us an e-mail.

Now I want you to stay tuned. We've got a one-hour special coming ahead. It's called "Air Strike Against Iraq" and it features Bill Hemmer hosting it. That's Bill Hemmer with "Air Strike Against Iraq. It's next. Follow all the goings on all weekend long. Tomorrow night, a restrospective with Tom Hanks. Tiger Woods next Friday. For Della Reese and the whole crew, thanks for joining us and 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

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