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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Denise Rich Describes Her Role in Her Ex-Husband's Pardon

Aired April 30, 2001 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: her billionaire ex-husband got presidential clemency. She got major controversy. Denise Rich for the hour, next, on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Before we talk with our special guest, Denise Rich, we're going to find out some parameters here from Martin Pollner. He is Denise Rich's attorney, a former federal prosecutor. And we don't want to touch into legal areas where we're not supposed -- so let's get it straight.

First, is there anything she can't talk about?

MARTIN POLLNER, ATTORNEY FOR DENISE RICH: We've asked you, in light of the present grand jury investigation in the Southern District and the two congressional hearings in Washington, that we could avoid the questions of the pardon and the investigations that are being conducted by those agencies concerning the pardon.

KING: If she, though, Marty has been granted immunity, what's the difference if she answered questions everywhere?

POLLNER: Well, that's a good question, but I'm not confirming yet that she has received immunity. But if she has received immunity, it deals with the grand jury proceeding and nothing more.

KING: Oh, it would not -- if she has the immunity, it would not deal with congressional testimony? It would not deal with a trial -- just grand jury information?

POLLNER: It would not deal with congressional investigations.

KING: Has she been interviewed by the U.S. Attorney's Office?

POLLNER: Yes, she has.

KING: Did she get a chance to go before Congress? And she turned that down, right? Or did...

POLLNER: She has not gone before Congress.

What happened early on February, upon our advice, we had suggested that she accept the privilege against self incrimination and not to testify before the Congress. And we've done that in a conservative way because early in February, no one knew anything that was happening. And the Supreme Court has ruled that innocent in ambiguous circumstances can accept and assume the Fifth Amendment.

KING: It does though, even the lawyers have played with this, look bad, right?

POLLNER: It looks bad, but you see the founders of the Constitution as you well know, have given everyone that right and innocent people such as Denise have taken it and I think it's time for people out there to understand that doesn't mean anything if she had taken that privilege.

KING: And then another question people ask is, if someone hasn't done anything wrong, what do they need immunity from?

POLLNER: Well, that's also a good question. But what the Supreme Court has ruled recently is that even when you give an honest answer as an innocent person, if you are ensnarled in ambiguous circumstances where even that answer can hurt you indirectly, they have granted the use of the privilege by innocent people.

KING: What is your opinion as a former prosecutor as to how well and how fair the U.S. Attorney's Office has been?

POLLNER: Well, I would say that the U.S. Attorney's Office is a wonderful office and I don't know where they're going with this investigation and where it would lead to.

KING: Nor do you have the right to know, right?

POLLNER: Exactly.

KING: Do you think it's going along quickly? Do you think we're going to have some news sometime soon about whether there's going to be a trial of anyone or not a trial?

POLLNER: My understanding is that they've been working around the clock on this investigation ever since the attorney general accepted the responsibility from the Congress. The U.S. attorney, Mary Jo White, has her people who are investigating this in a grand jury setting. I also understand that within a period of time, I don't know, that they're either going to find no indictment or indict and will take some action and I think the country is crying out for closure one way or another.

KING: And you'd try, as a prosecutor, former prosecutor, you try to think like they think, don't you?

POLLNER: Yes, I do absolutely.

KING: It's part of the game.

POLLNER: Exactly.

KING: You would be on the other side in this right?

POLLNER: Exactly. KING: The first role then, is to, did someone do something criminal, right. That's the question here. That's the hardest to prove in a case like, quid pro quo. Did someone give something for something, isn't it?

POLLNER: Exactly. It is because of the fact that as commentators have stated and you've stated on prior reports, broadcasts, that whole notion of what was given to him to get what is very difficult. But I leave that to Mary Jo White. She has the FBI, very competent people and I'm sure they're going to find the facts and we'll all hear at the same time.

KING: Any reason why you can't say yes or no about immunity?

POLLNER: Just been a practice I've taken based upon the events that were going on, that my respect for the U.S. attorney's investigation would be for me not to comment upon what we did or did not do. But I did believe, to help in this one of two interviews that's being done by Denise to give the legal parameters, I think is important. I also think it's important for her to tell her story, to be able to be in front of you and say it.

KING: And we're going to do that right now. Thanks Martin.

POLLNER: Thank you very much.

KING: Martin Pollner. He is the attorney for Denise Rich and Denise Rich is next. Don't go away. Thank you Martin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: And now we welcome to LARRY KING LIVE a woman who has become very famous. In the musical world, she was always famous as a songwriter. Now everyone in the world knows her, the former wife of Marc Rich, Denise Rich. What has all this been like for you?

DENISE RICH, EX-WIFE OF MARC RICH: Well, first of all, I want to say how happy I am to be here, Larry. Thank you very much. It's been crazy, you know and on the one hand, I never expected such an uproar about it. And on the one hand, it's been great because it's giving me an opportunity to express my feelings, a platform for which I can say the things that are in my heart which really, that's very good.

KING: So there's a plus to this.

RICH: There's definitely a plus to it.

KING: But there's a minus too.

RICH: There has to be a reason for it because otherwise, none of it makes any sense to me. The minuses I think that the media, we live in a soap opera society and somehow the media likes to create the person that they think you are and that they want you to be. And that's not at all who I am.

KING: Isn't this Denise though frankly a story, if it wasn't Denise Rich, if it was Dorothy Rich, you'd be talking about it.

RICH: Absolutely.

KING: It's that kind of story.

RICH: Yes, yes.

KING: So tell us about this strange, well, I guess what most people react strangely to is, you're fighting for someone who you divorced in a mean divorce suit. That seems incongruous.

RICH: OK, well, when we got married, it was a fairy tale marriage, it really was. It was very exciting. I lived in Europe and I lived in Europe for about almost 15 years. In the beginning we had a happy marriage. We had...

KING: Very much in love.

RICH: In love. We had three girls and I learned a lot from Marc because he's very detail oriented, a genius in business, international. So I learned to speak languages. I learned about different cultures. It was a very exciting.

KING: Was he a good husband for a while?

RICH: Yes.

KING: Was he a good father?

RICH: Yes. He was a wonderful father and all of that was wonderful. The problem was that as the marriage grew, we grew apart and in the beginning I really didn't know who I was when I first got married and then I began to discover myself, especially through my songwriting. And when that happened, we started to grow apart. It was very difficult because when we moved to Switzerland from America, I had a number one hit, a song called "Frankie," recorded by Sister Sledge and it started me on a whole music career and it was exciting for me and suddenly. . .

KING: You had your own identity too.

RICH: Yes, suddenly I had my own identity and I had always been a very loyal corporate wife. And it was very, it was difficult for me.

KING: But there was also another woman involved? Didn't that make it doubly difficult? He left you for someone else or was that coming anyway?

RICH: Well, it wasn't exactly. What happened was yes. He got involved with another woman. A lot of the time I wasn't there. I started following my own career. I had my own life. We were going our separate ways. And what happens when a child gets sick, I mean for me, family's more important than anything in the world. My children to me are important than anything and when my daughter got sick, when my daughter Gabrielle got sick. . . KING: You were divorced already?

RICH: No. We were separated at the time, in the process of getting divorced. And it was so difficult, because she had contracted Hodgkin's. And she was cured for three years, but the drug that cured her gave her leukemia.

KING: Did the divorce occur while this was going on?

RICH: Yes. But at the same time, she was in the hospital. And when she was in the hospital, but then she was cured for three years, living a normal life. But when she again called me and said, "I think that I've got cancer again," it went really quickly. It went within three months.

And so it was very, very difficult, and I was a bone marrow donor, because I was the closest match...

KING: How old was she?

RICH: She was 27...

KING: When she died.

RICH: Graduated Oxford, beautiful...

KING: Now, were you divorced at this time?

RICH: We were -- when she passed away, we divorced. But what happened was that while she was in the hospital, Marc would call all the time. And he would just get very emotional on the phone, and it was a very, very difficult time for us as a family. And when she passed away, we were all around her. All -- my children, our family was together, except for Marc, and he's never been able to be with her and he's never been able to see her grave.

KING: When he was a fugitive, were you married at that time? When he took off...

RICH: Yes.

KING: Under when he was -- thing were going to happen...

RICH: Yes.

KING: Was the marriage ending then, or was it a happy marriage?

RICH: Well, we had grown apart, because I'm a very -- I wear my heart on my sleeve.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Were you shocked when he left?

RICH: I'm a very emotional person, and he's more reserved.

KING: Were you shocked when he took off?

RICH: I was -- yes, I was surprised when he told me, because I'm the only American in the family. My parents are refugees from the Holocaust and my children were born in Europe, two in Spain, one in England, and so I'm the only American. So it was very difficult for me when he left.

KING: How did he say it to you? Did he say, "I'm just taking off"?

RICH: He said that there was a tax problem and that...

KING: "Goodbye."

RICH: ... it was going to be very difficult. And there was no way I was going to separate the family, because, as I told you, family's so important. So I said, "OK, we'll all go together." Things happen, we'll deal with it.

KING: And then you broke up.

RICH: Well, we went to Europe and we lived in...

KING: And he's in exile when you go to Europe? He's running when you're in Europe?

RICH: We're living in Switzerland together, but then I just had that number one hit, so I'm going off to England a lot, and my life is changing.

KING: Is the government pressuring you at all?

RICH: No, not at all.

KING: No effect? No asking you to help them get him or something? Nothing.

RICH: No, no, no. Nothing like that.

KING: But it was such a -- it was a very bitter divorce, was it not? Or was it?

RICH: It was a very, very bitter divorce. When all of this happened, it started to be -- yes, it was a very bitter, very angry divorce. And when I came back to the States I had no thought about anything except establishing myself as -- not as the "wife of," but as my own person. And also. for my children, I wanted them to be comfortable and to be happy here. And that was my primary concern.

KING: Our guest is Denise Rich. If we have to tell you who she is, you've got problems. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Denise Rich. In an interview with "New York Magazine" in '99, you said you left your husband after learning he was having an affair with another woman. You requested a settlement of 500 million. You filed a lawsuit. You accused him of mishandling your trust fund. The divorce was settled, details were not made public, etcetera.

But this was a bitter, tough time for you.

RICH: Very bitter.

KING: Now, here's what I asked about what seems like the conflict. That same person that you're fighting with and getting angry at, in your letter to President Clinton for a pardon -- and I understand you can't discuss pardons, but this is what you said about him:

"I support his application. The pain and suffering caused by that unjust indictment battered more than my husband. It has struck his daughters and me. We have lived with it for so many years; we live with it now. There's no reason why it should have gone on so long. Exile for 17 years is enough." And then you end by saying, "You have the power in this matter not just to show mercy, but to do justice. I believe with all my heart this is the right thing to do."

And I'm not asking about the pardon: Why are you even standing up for someone you were so mad at?

RICH: Oh, Larry, you have children. When you've been married for a long time, as I was, and you have children together -- he's still the father of my children. And when you lose the child, there aren't any more questions.

When -- there's nothing -- I thought divorce was bad; I lost my mother to cancer, my sister to cancer and my daughter Gabrielle to cancer. And when I lost my daughter, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life. I can't imagine anything worse.

I have no fear of anything...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... whatever's second is distant.

RICH: Yes, yes. And so in my heart was only forgiveness. I mean, there was nothing else. You can't -- there are no questions. When you've lost a child and you had a child together, with another person, I mean, there are no questions.

KING: So you forgave Marc Rich?

RICH: Absolutely. And not only that. And it just sort of came full circle, and I felt very much, because I know that that's what Gabrielle would have wanted. I know that very much, because the morning of the pardon, when I woke up -- it's the craziest thing, but I woke up and I had this love and this warmth around me and this feeling. And I knew that it was -- I felt the presence of Gabrielle, and I just felt that she was saying, you know, mom -- she had felt so guilty about being sick and that he couldn't be there for her and that he couldn't visit her grave.

And I think that, I mean -- that when she died she knew he wouldn't be able to visit her grave...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... I don't mean to interrupt -- the other side would have been: Do you love your daughter that much? Do you want to visit the grave? You want to be with her? Come back in and face the music.

RICH: Oh, he actually did. At one point while we were in the hospital he did want to come back and my daughter begged me -- Gabrielle said, please don't do that, mom. Please don't let him, because if something would happen I could never forgive myself.

KING: He did want to come back? Do you think he would have come back?

RICH: I think, maybe; but she didn't want that. And I know that my other two daughters -- it was very important for them, because when I was asked to write the letter they were very much, mom, please, you have to help. And I think that it was...

KING: Who asked you to write the letter?

RICH: The lawyers; the lawyers of...

KING: For Marc Rich?

RICH: Yes, yes.

KING: Now, did you -- you had to realize that, as a contributor to the Democratic Party -- and you've long contributed to Democratic Party causes, this would look funny. Right? It would look funny once a pardon comes out, that you had contributed to the party and then suddenly a man is pardoned. Didn't you think...

RICH: I don't think that one has anything to do with the other.

KING: But didn't you think the public would think, or the press would...

RICH: I never, ever, thought about that. I grew up during the Kennedy years; I grew up with a Kennedy, and I marched for civil rights, I marched against the apartheid. When I met President Clinton for the first time it was -- there was such charisma, and I believed in him so much and also in the former first lady. And I thought they were an incredible combination; and really, I adore them both. I think...

KING: Still do?

RICH: Absolutely. I think he's done a great job in the past eight years, and I think he's what America stands for.

KING: So it was never -- I think it's key -- it was never in your mind: I am giving this to get that?

RICH: No.

KING: Never?

RICH: No, no, no, no, no.

KING: But you...

RICH: I had come back -- when you've lived as an American abroad, it's a very interesting thing. You get blamed for everything; you're actually an ambassador for America. Anyone who lives abroad as an American is an American ambassador. And whenever anything happens in this country, you know, people will call you up and they'll say, do you believe what your country did? And you sort of get blamed for it and you have to defend it.

So when I came back I thought, I really want to support my president. And what I don't understand, like, in Europe all the leaders of the different countries are revered. And when they're elected, they're revered. And in America when we elect a president, the first thing we do is try to bring him down and destroy him. And it's just -- I've never understood that.

I mean, even now with President Bush -- I mean, he's done a great job in China; he needs all the support that he can get from us. And I don't understand why we do that.

KING: Did you, frankly, think, though, that because of what you've done, even thought it may have nothing to do with the other, you had some clout?

RICH: What I -- I'm very much liked. When I came back I came back as a single woman and I didn't know a lot of people and I wanted to be with people who had similar views to me -- like-minded views. And so I loved being part of...

KING: But you had to know you had clout, too. I mean, a Denise Rich letter would be read, right?

RICH: Yes, because, actually, when -- I mean, the friendship that I had with both the president and the former first lady, all through -- it was during eight years. And when my daughter passed -- before my daughter passed away, you know, it was when my daughter passed away, and I was in a Christmas -- one of the Christmas dinners, both of them helped me so much, and said the worst thing in life that can happen is to lose a child. And they had a lot of compassion.

So, actually, afterwards, also when that had happened, and my daughter's last wish before she died was that I would start a foundation...

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: Oh, all right.

KING: We'll be right back with Denise Rich on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. On the marriage, I don't think it was a wrong decision. I regret all the political flap.

And I regret that Denise Rich, who's a perfectly nice woman, and never did anything inappropriate, and had been supporting us for years in ways that had nothing to do with this, that she'd been caught into this. But, you know, that's poltics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Denise Rich. And President Clinton's explanation, his op-ed piece in "The New York Times," he said the suggestion that I granted the pardons because Mr. Rich's former wife Denise made political contributions and contributed to the Clinton library foundation is utterly false. And you agree with that statement, right?

RICH: Completely. It had -- one thing had absolutely nothing to do with the other.

KING: Considering that charity. There is a famous picture, and every television station has shown it and every network has shown it, and it's been printed. The picture is you, me, Hillary and Bill Clinton, and we're standing up, and you're presenting this beautiful gold saxophone to Bill Clinton, and a lot of people were wondering. That was a charity event that you asked me to emcee, right?

RICH: Yes.

KING: It was for your daughter's name charity for cancer research, right?

RICH: Yes. I would have to go back to 1998, when the first G&P Foundation -- we started the G&P Foundation, Philip, her husband and I, and -- and my daughter's, in memory of Gabrielle, and it's something that she would have done had she continued to live. And we had our first event in 1998, and we raised close to $3 million. And the whole music community came out to support it, it was a huge success.

And then, in the year 2000, and I asked you to emcee it, and you did. You were wonderful. And we raised close to $4 million. And the president was honorary chairman of both events, and he attended them. And it really helped, it made a big difference...

KING: I just want to clear up. A lot of people came over to me and said, what were you doing there? It was a great charity.

RICH: It was a great charity, and also I want to say that I think that it was at an event in Los Angeles quite a few years ago that my daughter Gabrielle had met President Clinton, and so he knew her also.

KING: Oh, he knew her?

RICH: Yes, he had met her.

KING: How did you...

RICH: And he had so much compassion, as Hillary did, so much.

KING: How did you hear about the pardon?

RICH: Well, as I said before...

KING: You said you had this vision, but how did you learn of it?

RICH: That's really -- I woke up at 10:00 in the morning, I sat up in bed, and I had this feeling. I knew that something had happened. I had such a feeling of warmth and love around me, and I just -- I felt the presence of my daughter Gabrielle, and she was saying, you know, thank you...

KING: But who told you that it had been?

RICH: I put on a television, and I found out about it on television, and that's how I found out about it.

KING: What was your first thought?

RICH: My first thought was I'm happy for Gabrielle, and I am happy for my children. And I got very emotional, as I am getting emotional now.

KING: And for Marc?

RICH: Also for Marc. And what I did is I ran downstairs, and I woke up the girls, and I said, you know, that this has happened, and they called him. They called him on the phone. And it was very emotional, and that was it.

KING: Were you surprised at all the things that occurred since?

RICH: Very surprised. Very surprised, because, I mean, I really believe that President Clinton did this on the merits of the case, on what he believed to be the merits of the case. I was asked to write a letter, and I think that, as an American, as an American and...

KING: A citizen.

RICH: Yes, an American citizen who...

KING: Anyone can write a letter for...

RICH: Right, and to submit it -- since the court had petitioned on behalf of the father of my children, it did not seem to me anything... KING: You were not surprised when you learned, though, that a lot of people did oppose it, including those in the -- around the president, in the inner circle.

RICH: I was very surprised. I was very surprised at the uproar. And I do understand, but what I also don't understand is there have been -- I mean, if we went into the pardons that have happened before this, with the past presidents, and you know, I mean...

KING: And no one...

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: Oliver North, Caspar Weinberger and many others...

KING: And no one who was someone who was fleeing justice.

RICH: I don't know that. And I do know -- all I know is that there have been many questionable pardons, and I think -- what I don't understand is why we're not going forward. There are so many issues in this country that are important, and that need to be dealt with, and that's what I don't understand.

KING: Only halfway through, we will be right back with more of Denise Rich. She is an extraordinary lady in many aspects, and a lot of aspects to be covered, as you could tell already. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with Denise Rich. By the way, concerning the whole thing he was charged with, and -- do you understand any of that? Do you understand any of the business, the income tax, the whole picture?

RICH: No. I was never involved with that. And upon the advice of my lawyers, I am asked not to say anything about anything, because...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... understanding of what?

RICH: No, no, no.

KING: That was in a business sense, and not your kind of business?

RICH: Not at all. Not at all.

KING: What -- before we talk about other aspects...

RICH: We didn't have that kind of a marriage.

KING: What don't we know about him?

RICH: What don't we know about him? KING: Yes, about Marc Rich. He's a mystery individual.

RICH: I think you would have to ask him what you don't know about him.

KING: What do think the public would be surprised at?

RICH: That he is a good father, and that he's not a bad person.

KING: And you were very angry at him.

RICH: And yes -- well, who hasn't gotten through a divorce and not been angry? He's still the father of my children.

KING: Do you talk to him a lot?

RICH: No.

KING: Is he coming back?

RICH: I have no idea. You would have to ask him. I have not...

KING: But should he come back? I mean, he fought for this pardon, he got it. Should he come back? He's got two daughters here.

RICH: I can't answer that.

KING: You'd go back, right?

RICH: I beg your pardon?

KING: You would go visit your daughters?

RICH: My daughters are with me.

KING: I know. That's what I was asking.

RICH: My daughters are with me.

KING: All right. Has this changed you? I mean, your bubbling effect, your songwriting, all of this, what changes has this had on you? When you get this kind of illumination, changes have to occur.

RICH: Yes, great changes. Well, first of all, I mean, all the accusations that I had an affair with the president, which I never did have, that I...

KING: You knew that would come, though?

RICH: Never!

KING: No?

RICH: When I slept over in the White House, I have -- they said I slept more than 100 times, more than Abraham Lincoln. I don't even know what the Lincoln bedroom looks like, and I had never slept in the White House, not even once. So, all I really think that the press has to be a little more circumspect about their journalism. I don't understand that.

KING: Were you surprised when that rumor was printed?

RICH: Very surprised. And I don't understand how that can happen. And now it's making me wonder -- because I always believed everything I read in the papers because the printed word is fact. And now I'm beginning to wonder, myself.

But the good part of it is that it's given me an opportunity in my songwriting to really -- to blossom. Because whenever I go through anything, whether it's happy or terrible, I songwrite. That's what gets me through. And it's love and the inspiration that comes from love and -- that goes all through my songwriting. And so that has helped me a great deal.

KING: Do you write in a particular vein? Are you a country writer?

RICH: Well, mostly pop and R&B. I mean, I've written for Celine Dion, Marc Anthony, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole. I was nominated for a Grammy for Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige for a song called, "Don't Waste Your Time." And...

KING: Good advice.

RICH: Yes. And right now I've been writing for Luther Vandross, Jimmy Cozier and a new artist on Jay Records, Mandy Moore, Kelly Price...

KING: So people have discovered you for the first time, now. I mean, certainly you were known in the music world, but now they're knowing you differently.

RICH: Yes, that's true. And it also gives me an opportunity to be able to say how I feel about life. I think this country -- since I've come back this country has changed enormously. Yoga's on the cover of "TIME" magazine; I do yoga three or four times a week, and it really helps me so much.

KING: Back to the president: When the Lewinsky story broke, were you hurt, shocked, surprised, what?

RICH: Well, I found it very interesting when the Lewinsky story broke that a lot of the people who had supported the president were suddenly disappearing. And I find that either you believe in someone or you don't. And I think that when you support someone, you support them.

KING: That didn't shake your belief?

RICH: Not at all; not at all, because...

KING: Didn't worsen the character? RICH: No, because I think that -- look at what the president -- what the former president has done for the country; look at the economy. And also he did something that, to me, was so important. The American dream in which you cross all the barriers of race, religion, ethnic -- for instance, when you write a -- when I write a song, it's not about -- the self-worth of a person is what's inside of them. And when you write a song, it's about what's inside of a person. It's not about where they came from, how much money they have, what color they are, what race or religion. And you do what's best for the song and you try to find the truth of the song.

Well, it should be the same thing in the country -- when you're, you know, running a country it's about what's best for the country and it's about bridging all the gaps and all the races and all the religions and mating everybody together. And that's what I think that the president did -- the former president.

KING: Did it upset you, though, to learn of this? A character flaw that may have caused you concern over someone you admire.

RICH: This is difficult for me to answer because I -- also having lived abroad for a long time, and seeing things differently I feel that maybe there's too much information that we don't need to know. And I really feel that one thing has nothing to do with the other.

And I think that, often, the people that throw stones, and cast stones, are the first ones that shouldn't. So I don't think -- I think...

KING: You would have looked at it differently.

RICH: Yes. And also, I feel that we're so quick to judge everything. And I think that there's too much information that we didn't need to know, that our children didn't need to know. I think that there's a lot of hypocrisy that goes on...

KING: I'm going to ask you about your children. We'll be right back with Denise Rich, don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Denise Rich. We're going to talk about your -- oh, one thing I wanted to ask. Did you talk to the president since this pardon?

RICH: No, I haven't.

KING: Hillary since this pardon?

RICH: No.

KING: Do you feel like it's just out of bounds, or would be awkward?

RICH: I just feel that there's so much going on, and since there's an ongoing investigation -- but I send them my love.

KING: Did you ever discuss it with him before the letter, personally?

RICH: No, never.

KING: No? Never came up?

RICH: No, and as my lawyer said, this is an ongoing investigation, so I can't talk about anything to do with the pardon.

KING: Do your daughters want their father to come home?

RICH: I'm sure that they do.

KING: Did they tell you they do?

RICH: I'm very proud. Yes -- they,,.

KING: Did they tell him they do?

RICH: Yes, of course. That, I can't answer for them, but...

KING: How old are they now?

RICH: Oh, gosh. Well, the whole world knows anyway, but my oldest daughter's in her early 30s, and Daniella is in her 20s, early 20s.

KING: They can go see him, can't they?

RICH: Yes. And also, I have to say I'm very proud, because my oldest daughter, Ilona, has just started her own business. She's a sculptress and an artist, and her husband, Kenny Schachter, is also an art dealer. But my daughter Ilona has -- and they're both doing very well and successful -- but my daughter Ilona has started her own fashion company called Pony Express.

So she designs clothes as well, and I'm very excited about that. And my daughter Daniella is an actress, and she's also writing now. She wants to write, so she's writing an awful lot.

KING: You're very close.

RICH: Yes, I'm very close with my girls, yes.

KING: Did you ever come close to remarrying?

RICH: No.

KING: Why not?

RICH: I don't know. I think there's been so much else going on in my life, you know, that -- I'm very happy.

KING: There are no feelings left for Marc, are there? RICH: Whatever feelings I have for anybody, I put into songwriting, because it's a very interesting thing. It's something that I've always found that it's...

KING: You mean, if I'm going to find out if you have feelings for Marc, look up these songs?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: If there's a song called, "I Still Love You, Marc, and I Miss You," I should get a hint from that?

RICH: Well, actually, there's a song I just wrote with Luther Vandross that we think is going to -- Luther thinks it's going to be a real smash, and it's called, "You Really Started Something." And we wrote that during the pardon.

KING: You really started -- good idea.

RICH: Yes. And, so I'm excited about that. And also, I've been writing for movies, songs for movies, so that's very exciting, too. And all my feelings come through my songs.

KING: What was the effect of this on your daughters?

RICH: Of -- of what?

KING: All of this, the whole mishigas. The whole story. How did they handle it? How'd they deal with it?

RICH: I've always told my -- I grew up with a lot of unconditional love from my parents. I was very blessed as a child, really, and I've tried to give that to my children. And I've always told my girls that you are not identified by the media or by what other people think of you. It's about who you are inside and how you feel about yourself. And that's how I identify myself, too, and it's a journey. Every day I'm learning more, and I think my girls feel the same way.

KING: All right, but when this was going on, what effect did it have on them? For example, they're seeing their father, whom they love, being wracked apart every day. And forget you, forget the pardon. He's being wracked apart because of this story. We didn't know Marc Rich. I mean, we knew the story was out there, but now the whole country knew him, and he's being painted in an evil way, and they're his daughters.

RICH: Larry, that's nothing -- but nothing compares to what we went through as a family when we lost Gabrielle. That's when everybody was falling apart, and nothing could be worse...

KING: So you mean once you handle that, you can handle anything?

RICH: Absolutely. Absolutely. Nothing is worse that losing a child.

KING: How did you deal with it, the loss of Gabrielle?

RICH: I -- I have a lot of faith inside of me...

KING: Did you get into depression?

RICH: I -- well, my belief is -- I know you did a show on channeling, and I know that it gets bashed and trashed a lot, and I don't want to go there, but I only want to tell you that I really feel upbeat. Having lost my mother, my sister, and then my daughter, the way I deal with it, my own belief, is to feel that life goes on and that there is -- that they're always there, and that there is a presence. And that's my way of dealing with it.

KING: God is the presence?

RICH: And God, oh, very much in...

KING: You believe?

RICH: Oh, I believe very much in God, but I also believe that they're in another place and...

KING: By the way...

RICH: I feel their presence and that is what, that faith is what has actually gotten me through.

KING: Is Marc a very observant Jew now? Do you know?

RICH: I have no idea now. I can't tell you.

KING: Did he always contribute to Jewish causes?

RICH: Yes, he did.

KING: Always.

RICH: Yes.

KING: We'll be right back with Denise Rich on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Our guest is Denise Rich.

Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America said: "She's a naive person who tries to help people. The fact she helped her daughter's father is no surprise. I don't think Denise could or would have created a strategy to manipulate the Clintons or Marc Rich, for Marc Rich's benefit."

Patti LaBelle said: "She's not a calculator or a manipulator. She has a childlike demeanor."

Geraldo Rivera, a friend of yours, said: "She is naive, almost innocent about the hard cruel world."

Do you agree with those statements?

RICH: Yes, I do.

KING: You think you are naive?

RICH: I do and -- in one way. But in another way, it's best exemplified by the song I wrote with Natalie Cole, "Living for Love." You know, I may be beat down, tore down, wore down, messed up, fed up, but I still get up living for love. And it's...

KING: Well, that could be from being the daughter of a Holocaust survivor too, right?

RICH: Also, yes.

KING: You survive a Holocaust, you don't give up.

RICH: So on the one hand, it's like two sides of a coin. It's like on the one hand, you close the door. On the other hand, you open it. On the one hand, I can be naive, but on the other hand, I've lived.

KING: Do you think in this matter, in looking back, without even having to be specific so we don't get into the pardon area. You were naive.

RICH: I don't know -- if you want to call concentrating on your children, being a good wife, trying to find your own identity, so much of it...

KING: But in not thinking anyone would presume anything was wrong here, that's naive, right?

RICH: But I'm saying that it was less focused on that, than it was on all the other aspects of my life. And if you really want to find out whether I'm naive or not, then you have to read my book. I'm working on a book.

KING: You're writing a book now.

RICH: Yes. And that's going to...

KING: Why does this not shock me?

RICH: Well.

KING: You got a title for the book already?

RICH: Yes, but I don't want to tell you what it is. It's always bad luck before a book comes out. But I'm working on a book, and it's about inspiration and about what a woman goes through to find inspiration in her life and to live a life of inspiration.

KING: Much has been written about your friendship with a Washington socialite, Beth Dozoretz. Are you close friends with Beth?

RICH: Yes, I like Beth very much.

KING: Did she ever suggest that if you give to the party, it'll help Marc Rich? This has been written.

RICH: I would love to answer all of your questions, and I hope one day I can come back and we can do a whole segment on it. Right now, my lawyers have advised that there's an ongoing investigation, and so I can't answer anything...

KING: All right, without being -- right -- nothing specific.

RICH: But I do not believe that Beth did anything wrong ever.

KING: OK. Do you feel weird being in the middle of an investigation? You don't have to tell me what they've asked you or whether they've asked...

RICH: No, it's not that. I'm just thinking, just being alive you can feel weird. I mean, there's so much going on all the time, but anyway, no, no, because I feel secure within myself.

KING: You do.

RICH: That I've done nothing wrong, yes.

KING: Did you ever think of not going out of the apartment when all this was going on?

RICH: Oh, there were times; but I've thought about that over the years -- many years, when there are times when I would just like to bury my head under the covers and not get up. And that's when, I would say to you, that through my songwriting I would just get up and I would just pour out my feelings.

KING: But what was it like to walk down the street, you're on the front cover of every paper, you're in the tabloids. Everyone's got a different read on Denise Rich, and it's all out there, and everybody walking by is reading it, and you know they are?

RICH: It's a very interesting thing...

KING: Interesting?

RICH: Because it's -- I mean, it's interesting in the sense that I don't identify myself that way. So -- and now I understand what other people have gone through, what celebrities go through, because I never understood it because I'm the same person -- and I'll always be the same person that I am -- or who I am, and think I am, so...

KING: So you were able to -- you can look at it and say, wow, and still go on? Not have it emotionally burn you?

RICH: Yes, because that has nothing to do with who I am.

KING: So as long as you know your honesty, yourself, what they print doesn't matter?

RICH: Exactly. That's exactly true.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Denise Rich right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: What does your charity do?

RICH: I'm very excited about the charity, the G&P Foundation, which stands for Gabrielle and Philip -- and the angel ball...

KING: Philip was her husband, right?

RICH: Philip was her husband, yes. And, I mean, I love him so much. He's like my son.

KING: And what does -- the money that you give to those goes to do what?

RICH: What we're doing is both conventional research -- and both conventional and complementary medicine. And it's very exciting because we fund research which will go to clinical trials. And what's very exciting is that we try to fund conventional as well as complementary research...

KING: You mean -- complementary meaning holistic, new ides?

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: Yes, and that they can work together -- yes?

KING: Did you see Suzanne Somers on this show?

RICH: Yes, and...

KING: What do you make of what she's doing?

RICH: I think it's incredible. I -- look how much this country's changed. I mean, yoga's on the cover of "TIME" magazine; Suzanne Somers is talking about breast cancer and doing alternative therapies. It's wonderful. I think we're changing the way that doctors are going to look at health, and I think that's very important.

KING: Do you worry about cancer for you -- because it hits the family.

RICH: Very much so, but fear is a very negative emotion. So whenever I find myself doing that, I try to do anything that's going to make me feel positive, because I really believe that it has to do with a lot with your mind and your heart, and how you're feeling about yourself.

KING: Do songs just come to you? I mean, do you think of a song walking down the street?

RICH: Very much. They come to me -- melodies and lyrics, but at the same time, also what I love is when I'm writing for -- with particular artist and for their projects.

KING: So you write for an artist, right? You will write a song for a particular singer?

RICH: Yes, for an artist and with -- like, I was just writing with Shanice Wilson now out in -- I was just in L.A. writing. And it's very exciting, because you can tailor-make the song for the artist and what they would like to say.

KING: At the Morton's party after the Academy Awards, which I attended, there was a moment, you were walking through and Monica Lewinsky was sitting there. I know you noticed her, she noticed you. Was that awkward?

RICH: Well, I had to go to the lady's room...

KING: And that was the way you went, right?

Were you -- back to those rumors that appeared -- just bear for these few more things -- weren't you upset at that? I mean, you laugh at it a lot; but -- said about rumors that you and the president -- didn't it bother you?

RICH: No, because when something's not true, why should it bother you? It's ridiculous.

KING: Might bother you even more, if it's not true.

RICH: No, no; no, not at all. Not at all, because there's so much else going on in my life and so much that I have to look forward to and so much that I'm involved in.

KING: Are you going to continue to support candidates you like?

RICH: Eventually.

KING: You may, but not now...

RICH: I mean, right now, between my songwriting and between the G&P Foundation, I've got my hands full..

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So you're not writing a check to any candidate for mayor?

RICH: Not right now.

KING: Governor?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: In other words, you're not going to contribute for a while to politics?

RICH: That's to be seen. And, as I told you...

KING: But you're an activist. You like giving.

RICH: Yes, I do.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So it runs against your grain -- in other words, if you have a candidate you like running for mayor, it's against your grain not to give?

RICH: Yes, I do. I just say, right now, I'm probably taking a break.

KING: Do you think -- and this is just a guess -- that your husband will come back?

RICH: I have no idea. You would have to ask him.

KING: One way or the other, you have no -- well, you know him better than anybody who knows him.

RICH: I don't know that that's true anymore; I really don't.

KING: How long since you've really had a conversation with him?

RICH: As I said...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: It's probably been a long time, right?

RICH: My lawyers have advised me that -- we don't speak -- but my lawyers have advised me that, because there's an ongoing investigation, Larry, I can't answer these questions.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Are they investigating your daughters, too? Anybody talking to...

RICH: Because there's an ongoing...

KING: This sounds like a Senate grilling.

(LAUGHTER)

RICH: That's my mantra.

KING: Are you as happy as you seem?

RICH: Yes. Yes.

KING: And you're happy because you're you, right? RICH: Oh, yes. That's so true, yes.

KING: Because, basically, you would not have a great reason to be happy?

RICH: No, it's true. I'm think I'm more me, myself, than I've ever been in my life. So...

KING: Thank you, Denise.

RICH: Thank you so much for being so...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Denise Rich! We hoped you learned a lot more than you knew before. We certainly did. Denise Rich has been our special guest for the hour. And we thank her attorney for appearing earlier.

Stay tuned now for "CNN TONIGHT." I'm Larry King. See you tomorrow. 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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