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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Miss USA Keeps Her Job; Would-be Publisher of O.J. Book Fired
Aired December 19, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE TYCOON: I've always been a believer in second chances.
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TARA CONNER, MISS USA: I wouldn't say that I'm an alcoholic. I think that that would be pushing the envelope just a little.
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KING: Tonight, shocking news as Donald trump tells Miss USA she's not fired for unacceptable behavior, but says she'll go into rehab. We've got reaction to this morning's sensational press conference from two former Miss USA title holders and the president of the Miss Universe organization.
Then, is there justice for the victims of O.J.? The mastermind behind his book "If I Did It" was abruptly fired. The families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman respond.
Plus, we've got exclusive photos of one of the two missing mountain climbers. And an exclusive with the rescue officers responsible for the sad task of removing the body of climber Kelly James from the snow cave.
It's all next on "LARRY KING LIVE."
Good evening. We begin with the Miss USA story. Joining us here in Los Angeles is Kelly McCarthy. She was crowned Miss USA in 1991.
In New York is Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Corporation.
And also in Los Angeles, Shandi Finnessey who was crowned Miss USA in 2004.
Donald trump says that the current Miss USA, Tara Conner, will be allowed to keep her title despite allegations about heavy underage drinking and other misbehavior.
Trump, the co-owner of the Miss USA organization, maintains he believes in second chances. Conner, who turned 21 just yesterday, will be entering rehab. Here's what the Donald had to say today.
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TRUMP: I've always been a believer in second chances. I've always been. Tara is a good person. Tara has tried hard. Tara is going to be given a second chance.
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CONNER: And you'll never know how much I appreciate Mr. Trump for saving me on this one.
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KING: All right. Kelly McCarthy, what do you make of this?
KELLY MCCARTHY, FORMER MISS USA: Well, I'm really glad that Tara was given a second chance. I think that we all make mistake in our lives. At this point, you know, she just turned 21 and has had such immense change happen in her life. So we're not in her shoes. So I think the best thing is to wish her well and hope that, you know, she can take this -- what has happened and, you know, try to go out and use that as part of her platform and help others.
KING: Paula Shugart, you're president of the Miss Universe Organization. Were you involved in this decision?
PAULA SHUGART, PRESIDENT, MISS UNIVERSE ORGANIZATION: I was actually at the meeting with Mr. Trump and Tara today but ultimately this was Donald's decision.
KING: Did you favor it?
SHUGART: Yes, I actually saw both sides of it and really going into the meeting I think it could have gone either way. But I think we always should be able to give somebody a second chance. My hope is that Tara will come out of this and actually be able to help people on the other side. There's probably more pressure on her right now because she's let down a lot of people, including herself.
KING: Shandi Finnessey, who is a recent Miss USA, just two years ago. What do you make of this?
SHANDI FINNESSEY, FORMER MISS USA: Well, first of all, Donald Trump is a very compassionate person. A little different than "The Apprentice." He likes to give people second chances. I'm glad that he did because hopefully out of this we will get a good success story. Hopefully she'll be someone who is able to come back, make a difference, go out and talk about it, and encourage other people, who are in similar situations, to ask for help. She asked for help. Donald trump is giving it to her. And hopefully, she'll encourage others to do the same.
KING: The other side would be, Kelli that Miss USA is supposed to stand for something, supposed to be a role model, supposed to be held on a higher platform.
MCCARTHY: Absolutely. You know, when you are entering Miss USA, that comes with an understanding that you are representing not only yourself. You're representing your country.
KING: So she didn't do that well?
MCCARTHY: Unfortunately, she made a mistake. I don't know if that means that it has to lead to rehab. I think that she's very remorseful for what she did. I highly doubt that it's going to happen again.
KING: Paula, aren't they supposed to have chaperones?
SHUGART: Yes, actually they do have chaperones for all of their events. I would say most of the hours of the day. But when you drop somebody off at night at 11:00 at night and they have an 8:00 a.m. event, you don't exactly know what's going to happen in the course of the night. So we're also re-evaluating that to see if we need someone full time with them.
KING: Was Tara present to argue her own defense?
SHUGART: Oh, absolutely. Tara -- did argue her own defense. It was almost -- it was a very tough meeting. Although Donald certainly decided to give a second chance, he was not happy. And he definitely expended what he felt. But he is a strong believer in second chances. And it was a very, very tough meeting this morning.
KING: Shandi, in a perverse way, might this now create more interest in this pageant?
FINNESSEY: Possibly. One thing we have to focus on is that Miss USA is a real true today pageant. We're not looking for somebody who is perfect and plastic. People make mistakes. Maybe she made more mistakes than others have. But hopefully she's going to learn for it and it's going to be a success story.
But pageants are relevant, I feel, especially today when we need strong role models. I think they're very relevant.
KING: You do?
FINNESSEY: Hopefully it will bring more attention to the pageant in future years.
KING: How about those, Kelli, who say it's irrelevant?
MCCARTHY: I think the majority of people, especially in the United States, especially in the Midwest, the South, if you did a survey you would find a lot of young girls, I know from being out on a tour -- how many young women were coming up to me and saying how do I get to be where you are.
So I think it's important for young women to have things that they can -- set goals and strive for. So overall, I think it's a positive.
KING: Paula, was there a tough time -- was there ever a time today where you thought she was going to be removed?
SHUGART: Actually, yes. This -- this morning we really -- before the meeting, I wasn't sure which way it was going to go. And she certainly was prepared. She knew that she brought a lot of things on herself. And she knew that we had every right to fire her. But I also suspected -- I knew that Mr. Trump really wanted to hear what she had to say.
KING: How did the organization become aware of her problems?
SHUGART: We had heard some rumors over the last couple of weeks. And finally about a week and a half ago, I had heard a few things where I -- so I first called her into my office to discuss. And then within a day, it had hit the media. So that sort of changed the whole dynamic, instead of trying to handle it privately.
KING: Shandi, what does this do to the image of role model concept of Miss USA?
FINNESSEY: Hopefully nothing other than just...
FINNESSEY: Hopefully, it will strengthen. I think if we would have actually fired her, it could have been more of a detriment because we would have said well, we're not going to tolerate anything, zero tolerance. And then she's out. I do believe, though, that Donald Trump is three strikes you're out. I believe that if there's another strike, then he will fire her and move on to the first runner- up.
Hopefully -- I think this is actually going to strengthen the Miss USA organization showing that we do give second chances, showing that we're not looking for someone who is perfect and plastic, and showing that we can bounce back. We can stand by our girl. We can support her, get her the help that she needs. And then, in return, she will be a success story. She can go out and talk about her journey.
KING: We will be back with more on this issue on this edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." Don't go away.
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CONNER: You heard about the other things he could have said. You know, you're fired. And I think that's what everyone expected, especially me. But he's a very, very compassionate person. And obviously, I've learned that today. And I'm so happy that I'm being given this opportunity because I know that when I do my job, I'm very passionate about it.
And I guess one of the good things about having some kind of little troubles here and there is you're able to reach out to far more people. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes, not only given a chance to have time to better myself, but to better me as a Miss USA. And I plan on walking out of this the best Miss USA that you've ever seen.
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KING: We're back. Scandal elsewhere in this area.
Shandi, what happened to Miss Teen USA, Katie Blair?
FINNESSEY: Yes, she was dragged into the mess. But Tara, I believe, made a statement saying she's sorry for dragging her into it and she's a good girl.
KING: What did Katie do? Did Katie do anything wrong?
FINNESSEY: There is rumors that she was out drinking with her and that there may have been like scantily -- dancing together at bars and things like that.
But again, she's young also. She's 18 and being thrown into this national title now, living in New York with Miss USA and Miss Teen USA and Miss USA all together. It's overwhelming. You need to have a really good head on your shoulders in order to survive.
KING: What, Kelli, would you say to Tara now?
MCCARTHY: I would say to Tara that she did a great job handling this today. I wouldn't wish that kind of press conference on any 21- year-old, whether she's Miss USA or not. And I wish her the best. And she's going to be just fine. I have no doubt.
KING: Of course, Paula, she could have said good-bye, right? She could have given up the crown and gone home and lived her life.
SHUGART: I think going home and living her life would have been kind of difficult because there was a lot of media scrutiny at home for her, too. Obviously, she does want this job more than anything. She realizes what's at stake and the mistakes she's made. So -- so I think it was really -- it was either -- it was going to be ultimately Mr. Trump's choice in this.
KING: We all remember Vanessa Williams, a terrific singer and a great talent. The Miss America who lost her crown after nude photos.
Do you think, in a sense, Paula, This could help her?
SHUGART: Certainly. Everybody knows Tara's name now, which I don't think was the case last week. But I think right now she's just going to focus on what she needs to do on a personal level. And she probably could parlay this into something, after her rein probably, in March.
KING: Mr. Trump said today, Paula, that if she makes the slightest mistake, she's gone. What's the slightest mistake?
SHUGART: He's a compassionate person. And he's an understanding person. But he's all about second chances. He's not about third chances, I can tell you that.
KING: So she's got to be Simon-pure?
SHUGART: Absolutely. And we're all going to be watching her and helping her. But we're all going to be -- be there. It's probably going to be even harder for her right now because she knows everybody's going to be watching her.
KING: Where's she going?
SHUGART: I'm really not at liberty to say. And we're still looking at all the possibilities right now. But we really want to give her some privacy right now. We've suspended all of her an appearances now. And we're just going to work this out now.
KING: What's the toughest part, Shandi, about wearing this crown?
FINNESSEY: Gosh, there's a lot of pressure. It's definitely a huge asset and you can use it to further your career professionally, personally.
KING: You used it well?
FINNESSEY: I have. But you know what? If I would have tarnished my reputation personally I wouldn't have been able to -- right now, I'm working for -- on GSN. I do lingo and play mania. GSN is a family network. I wouldn't be able to do that if I tarnished my reputation.
And so, depending upon how she wants her career to go, she could use it to her advantage, she could change. It really depends. You have to find everything out.
KING: Do a lot of traveling, a lot of appearances, right?
FINNESSEY: Eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. It is a job, but, opens a lot of doorways. The biggest pressure is being able to leave all of your personal life somewhere else and devote that whole year professionally.
KING: Are you paid?
FINNESSEY: You are, but not -- you don't become wealthy over the job. I think the title of Miss USA -- it's like the MasterCard commercial. That's what's priceless, is the title. Forever you are that Miss USA of that year.
KING: What did it do for you, Kelli?
MCCARTHY: It got me out of Kansas and straight to Los Angeles where I wanted to be ever since I was about 4 years old, and got me into acting. I traveled the world. And it changed my life forever. And it's something that I took very, very seriously. And I hope that Tara will do that as well.
KING: What do you do now?
MCCARTHY: I just spent seven years on NBC's "Passions" where I played the local psycho.
KING: You got married?
MCCARTHY: I got married to Matt Dearborn, who is a wonderful writer and a great husband. And I do dog rescue. And I couldn't be happier. Him either.
KING: Paula, what can you tell us about Tara?
SHUGART: Well, I think Tara is definitely -- she's a good person. I think she definitely -- you have to understand about Miss USA is what I try to impart to everyone -- and both Kelli and Shandi are correct -- it is life altering. Whoever has this title, their lives will never be the same. But you have to imagine that the moment you're crowned everything is packed up. And you move to New York the next day for a year. And you leave your life behind.
So I think for Tara, coming from a town of 2300 people, having really never been out of Kentucky before -- she was very young and I think it was -- it's really overwhelming. It's hard for anybody. I'm sure that Kelli and Shandi would both agree, it's incredibly difficult. And you have to be very strong to be able to handle it.
KING: Has she fulfilled, Paula, most of her tasks?
SHUGART: She has. And I think it would be a whole different story if she actually had not been going to events. She did miss a couple of events. She was actually very sick at one point, with bronchitis, so -- but I think the papers ran with that and tried to say some other things. She worked hard when she did go to events. And she went to most of them.
KING: Thank you all very much. Kelli McCarthy, Miss USA, 1991, Paula Shugart, the president of the Miss USA organization, and Shandi Finnessey, crowned Miss USA 2004. Thank you all.
FINNESSEY: Thank you, Larry.
SHUGART: Thank you.
KING: Up next, the woman behind O.J. Simpson's failed book and TV interview. Got the ax. We'll talk to Denise Brown and Ron Goldman's family about that and more, when we come back.
KING: Welcome back. On Friday, the women behind the now canceled O.J. Simpson "If I Did It" book and TV interview was fired. And now a spokesman for Regan's former employer, Rupert Murdoch's news corporation, is giving its side of Regan's firing.
The spokesman said that Regan was given the ax after an explosive telephone conversation in which Regan complained of a Jewish cabal ganging up against her in the book industry.
Today, Regan has hired high-powered attorney Burt Fields, who says the remarks are totally untrue, saying his client didn't have an anti-Semitic bone in her body.
First, we welcome to "LARRY KING LIVE," Denise Brown, Nicole Brown's sister, and Natasha Roit, the attorney for the Brown family.
What do we make of this whole story, Denise?
DENISE BROWN, SISTER OF NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON: I think it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. And I think News Corp. -- I think this is a great beginning. I think that anybody else involved could be fired as well.
KING: When did you hear that this whole thing was gone?
BROWN: What do you mean? That the whole book deal, everything, got squashed?
BROWN: Oh, gosh, I think it was -- wasn't that a couple weeks ago?
KING: Same day, right? When they announced it?
BROWN: When they announced, yes. And then...
KING: Did you blame her entirely? Did you blame Mr. Murdoch? What were your feelings?
BROWN: Well, my feelings were that News Corp. shame on them. I went public on that. I think Rupert Murdoch -- I think he made a huge mistake. I think Judith Regan did a huge disservice as far as commercializing abuse and actually publicizing a book that was, you know, explaining on how to murder somebody, especially if she's a victim of domestic violence, which she claims. How could she even publish a book like that?
KING: But when News Corp. turned, they turned.
BROWN: They did. They absolutely did. And, you know what, rightfully so.
KING: Natasha, the last time you were here, you mentioned the person who you claimed was O.J.'s middle man in the book deal, a man you say accepted the payment from Regan Books and passed it on. Have you filed an official complaint?
NATASHA ROIT, ATTORNEY FOR GOLDMAN FAMILY: Denise filed a state bar complaint against this gentleman, Brett Saxon. And... KING: By the way, we've tried to reach Brett Saxon. He doesn't return a phone call.
ROIT: Same here. And I want to confirm also, I spoke with Bert Fields today, who is the attorney, as you indicated, for Judith Regan. And I got two things from him. One, that he indicated to us his client would cooperate fully with us in news terms of full disclosure as to what happened with the transaction, as long as she gets the okay from her Harper Collins. And he's going to ask for that request from them.
And also confirmed that Brett Saxon was the individual, who supposedly told Judith Regan that the money was going to go into a trust for the children and we haven't been able to confirm that.
KING: We tried to reach him.
Where did the money go to your knowledge, Denise? The money is...
BROWN: To my knowledge, it was funneled through Bret Saxon to another corporation and ultimately to O. J. Simpson.
KING: And how and where?
BROWN: And he even claimed that he paid his bills with it. But Rupert Murdoch and Judith Regan both said that we thought the money was going to the children, to Sydney and Justin. Like I said last time, if they really truly believed, or this is where they wanted to money to go, why didn't they open up a trust account for these kids so the money would actually go to these children? It didn't happen. Simpson used the money. But we knew that. They were trying to get around the civil judgment, is what they were trying to do. That is just unacceptable.
KING: How is he able to beat the law, Natasha?
ROIT: Well, only because he hasn't been fully taken on. You know, he is able to overt paying the judgment because he claims he doesn't have any assets that are accessible. And that's one of the main reasons that we're pursuing new legislation.
If there's a judgment, if there's a court order, not paying it and being flippant about paying it should be contempt of court, which gives you the basic rights to be able to put somebody in jail for failing to pay it. Otherwise, what the victim has to do, after they obtain a judgment, they have to start from scratch and try and collect it. We think it's inequitable. And we're going try and change that law.
KING: What do you think, Denise, of this anti-Semitic thing?
BROWN: I think it's horrible. I think anybody that does anything like that is -- it's just unacceptable. It's just unacceptable behavior. I just don't -- I just don't -- I don't believe in it. I don't think that you should call anybody names, regardless. I just -- I just don't believe in it.
ROIT: Can I just say, Larry, real fast? I don't believe that Harper Collins fired Judith Regan specifically as a result of a remark she made in an internal conversation. They didn't hire her because she was a sweet girl that was helping them out of anything. They hired her because she was going to make a profit for them being confrontational.
KING: And she did.
ROIT: And she did. They should simply step up to the plate and acknowledge they fired her as a result of the bad press they've got. But to do that would also be to accept responsibility for things they've done. And they're shunning that. That's unfortunate.
KING: Denise, do you believe that O.J. will ever pay his dues?
BROWN: No, that's why we are trying to change legislation. And that is part of it. That's why we're pushing towards that. And the American people spoke loudly and clearly that they didn't want the television show or the book to be published or the television show to be aired. I think that the American people will get behind this legislation. And that's the way we're going to have to do it. I think we're going to have to do it legally one more time.
KING: Are you surprised the book hasn't appeared anywhere? I know they say about eBay a little bit. But nobody said anything.
BROWN: Natasha, you know, has done an incredible job on that.
KING: Have you seen it?
ROIT: No, we've seen it being -- try to be sold on eBay. And we were successful in squashing it. Based on our communications with Google and YouTube, it's not going to show up. That's our hope. And I think we're going to succeed.
KING: How did that happen? How were you able -- normally something like this, as they say, always gets out.
BROWN: That's the word.
KING: But you have to keep vigilant, because that doesn't mean it can't come out tomorrow.
ROIT: Absolutely. It's a daily thing, but it's a worthy cause.
BROWN: But, Larry, we're not going away. This is wrong. After the criminal verdict, 350 copycat murders were committed. Can you imagine that if this manual to commit murder was released on how many murders would occur in the United States or maybe even in the world? It would be horrible. Absolutely horrible on how many people would lose their lives just because of Harper Collins and because of News Corp. It would have been absolutely a nightmare. KING: You believe people would do it?
BROWN: Well, they have done it. I mean, they have.
KING: It's just bizarre, though.
BROWN: Oh, it's completely bizarre. You know what, we needed -- the book needed to be stopped. One, Sydney and Justin. He, you know, these children, we have tried to shelter them ever since the murder was committed. Ever since they lost their mother we tried to shelter them. Our televisions were on VCRs. We did not want them to seeing any of this kind of stuff.
Now, they're 21 and 18 years old. They know how to read. That's where I have to step back and say, you know what, this is not acceptable. They cannot hear how this person, their father, would possibly commit this murder. It's just not acceptable for me.
KING: Thank you both. Keep on keeping on.
Denise Brown and Natasha Roit, her attorney.
When we come back, they helped keep O.J.'s book out of the stores, his interview off TV. Wait until you hear what Ron Goldman's dad and sister are doing now. They're here to talk about it when "LARRY KING LIVE" continues.
KING: Joining us now in Phoenix, Arizona is Fred Goldman, the father of the late Ron Goldman, and here in Los Angeles, Kim Goldman, Ron Goldman's sister.
We begin with this item out of the Associated Press, Ron Goldman's father sued O.J. Simpson Tuesday, seeking any money the former NFL star received for a canceled book deal and TV interview that told the hypothetical tale on how he would have killed his ex- wife and Goldman. IT accuses Simpson of fraudulent conveyance, alleges that he created a shell corporation, received at least $1.1 million as part of the interview and the book titled "If I Did It".
Fred, what prompted the lawsuit?
FRED GOLDMAN, RON GOLDMAN'S FATHER: Well, it became evident to us that without question he received money. He had as much as admitted that. And it didn't become hard to figure out that he didn't do it legally.
And so we've gone after him and the shell company that was formed to funnel the monies from -- we'll say the umbrella News Corp to him in an effort to avoid the judgment.
KING: Kim, if he spent it, how can you collect it?
KIM GOLDMAN, RON GOLDMAN'S SISTER: Well, the purpose of the lawsuit's not technically to go after the monies that were transferred. It's really to sort of pull the Band-Aid back and do some discovery and to question people about what went on and who was involved and to uncover whatever we can and hopefully unwind what was done and maybe try to recover the rights. The company Lorraine Brook (ph) and Associates owns the rights to the book and the interview. So if there's a way for us to get that back...
KING: So, in other words, Fred, the shell company might be responsible?
F. GOLDMAN: Well, they're certainly part and parcel. Lorraine Book --Lorraine Brook we have learned, is actually the middle names of his two daughters. And so it was formed for the sole purpose of moving this money to try to avoid the judgment. Whoever put it together, you know that the killer was behind it. He's certainly not interested in having to honor the judgment. And so he will, with the help of others, do everything he can to avoid it.
KING: Do you think, Kim -- we asked this of Ms. Brown -- that O.J. will ever come to true justice, true rewards?
K. GOLDMAN: No. I mean, he's taken every step he can. That is not the first time that he has come up with a fraudulent company. I think a couple years ago it was Justin Communications. The truth is, he's made it very clear that he will do whatever he can to avoid paying the judgment. And it's unfortunate.
KING: Fred, according to the Associated Press report today -- another one -- Judith Regan's former employer, News Corp, claims she made the following statement during an explosive telephone argument that led to her firing. She said, according to the story, that Jews should know about ganging up, finding common enemies and telling the big lie.
You're Jewish, what do you make of this?
And, by the way, her attorney denies it.
F. GOLDMAN: Well, on the assumption she said any of it, it's obviously more bad taste on her part. She certainly showed bad taste in her decision to do a book with a murderer. And so if she's done this, it's just in additional bad taste. And if she was fired for any of the above, she got what she deserved. My gut sense is she got fired because she caused enormous embarrassment to News Corp. and somebody had to take the fall.
KING: Now, there's another book alleged to be coming under her aegis called the "Mickey Mantle Book of Wild Sexual Exploitation" written as a novel. What's going on there?
K. GOLDMAN: You know what, she -- I think Natasha said it before. She was hired because she's sensationalistic. She does these crazy books that draws everybody out of the woodwork to tell their story. News Corp. knew what they were doing, but I think that firing her was in direct response to trying to separate themselves from her and try to just cauterize that relationship as much as possible.
KING: For the record, her attorney, Bert Fields, is denying that his client ever made anti-Semitic remarks.
Fred Goldman, do you think you're ever going to get -- you think you're ever going to get your justice from O.J. Simpson?
F. GOLDMAN: The justice that we want for him would have been a needle in his arms and he'd be six feet under at this point. That's the justice that Ron and Nicole deserve, that we as families deserve.
In terms of financial justice, we'll do everything we can for the rest of time to make his life miserable and make him pay in some form. He has never, ever been held responsible for his violent acts ever. And it's long past due.
K. GOLDMAN: I also want to say that I think that this is also sending a message to other people that enter into business with him, that this is what happens when you enter into contracts with people that are evading a judgment. It's a multi-million dollar judgment. The entire country knows it. So I think we're putting people on alert that if we find out about it that we will do whatever we can within our legal right to seek justice.
KING: By the way, in the interest of fair reporting, Bert Fields is also my attorney. Had to throw that out.
Hey, what's right is right. Got to tell you that.
Fred, what the you make of the lawsuit that Ms. Brown is filing?
F. GOLDMAN: I'm not aware of...
KING: I mean, attempting to change some litigation to prevent people from escaping this.
F. GOLDMAN: Well, you know what, it's a good idea. We made some effort several years ago. It's a rough hoe to get the laws changed to benefit judgment creditors. It's a rough go because the legal system just isn't terribly interested in being there for victims of any kind. And certainly I hope it works. Unfortunately, isn't going to help us at this moment in time.
KING: Is it his great advantage, Kim, to be living in Florida?
K. GOLDMAN: It may or may not be...
KING: It's debtor's paradise.
K. GOLDMAN: ... that's what his intention was. And The truth is, wherever he is, we will find him. His bill -- his $40 million bill is in collections and we're the collection agency. And he will need to come to terms with the fact that he's made another wrong in his life.
KING: Keep on keeping on.
K. GOLDMAN: We will.
F. GOLDMAN: We will.
KING: Fred Goldman, always good seeing you. And Kim Goldman, Ron's Sister.
K. GOLDMAN: Thanks, Larry.
KING: Just ahead, an update on those missing climbers. We'll talk to a man who brought down one climber's body. And you'll see exclusive photos of one of the missing climbers.
It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: The saga of Mt. Hood in Oregon continues. Joining us in Portland, Sergeant Josh Johnston, Rescue Officer, 304th Rescue Squadron. He went to the snow cave to retrieve the frozen body of the deceased climber Kelly James on Monday.
Also with him is Captain Mark Ross, Combat Rescue Officer, 304th rescue squadron, U.S. Air Force reserves. He helped orchestrate the search for the three climbers who went missing on Mt. Hood. And at the Hood River Airport in Oregon is Fred Stephenson, a close personal friend of Brian Hall, one of the two climbers still missing on Mt. Hood. And he's given us some new photos of Brian that we'll see tonight. But first let's start with Josh Johnston. Where is the body of Kelly James now, Josh?
JOSH JOHNSTON, USAF: Right now that body is off of Mt. Hood and with the family.
KING: So it has been brought down?
KING: How tough a chore was that for you?
JOHNSTON: That was -- it was a very difficult task. It was -- first of all, I'd just like to say thanks to all the players in this joint search and rescue operation, from the volunteer rescuers, the Crag Rats out of Hood River and mountain and rescue guys and CH-47 helicopters out of Pendleton. And then all of the pararescuemen that participated in this join search and rescue operation. It was a difficult task.
KING: Captain Ross, it's now being called a rescue effort, not a recovery operation. What's the difference?
MARK ROSS, CAPTAIN, USAF: Well, typically rescue operation means you're taking risks that are justified based on the assumption that people are still alive. And a recovery operation uses a decreased level of risk acceptance based on the idea that there's little chance of finding someone alive.
So like in a drowning situation, if people have been around for some time, divers will take much less risk once they're certain they can't find someone alive.
KING: So they're still taking high risk, right, Mark?
ROSS: We have taken some very significant risks so far, but every morning the risk is measured and we try to determine how far we're going to go to do what each day -- we removed one body and that was not -- didn't turn out to be as risky as we thought it was going to be the day before when we first saw the cave.
So everything worked out in the matrix. And we went ahead and did it. But we're not going to put people out there where they have a high probability of getting hurt at this point. We're going to be very careful.
KING: How's the weather, Mark?
ROSS: Weather's deteriorating today. Yesterday during the body removal, the wind started to pick up in the afternoon. And it made it quite a bit colder up there and it complicated the hoisting for the helicopter somewhat. Today the weather is going downhill quickly. I think tonight the storm might move in again.
KING: Brian Hall and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke still remain missing. Fred Stephenson is a close friend of Brian Hall's and he's brought some new photos of Brian that we'll see tonight. What have you got for us, Fred?
FRED STEPHENSON, FRIEND OF BRIAN HALL: Well, you know, I just wanted to let everyone know on behalf of myself, the guys that I came up with and his family back at home at Performance Playground that we greatly appreciate everything that these guys have done over the last few days.
It's been an amazing operation and we understand what they've gone through to -- what they've put themselves through to help us out. But we're here because we're missing a brother and a best friend. We love him and we want to see him come home.
KING: How far back does your friendship go?
STEPHENSON: You know, Brian, I've known Brian for about six years. But, you know, working with someone six days a week, 10 to 14 hours a day, you really get to know someone. And I feel like I've known him forever. He's like a brother to me.
KING: What do you do for a living?
STEPHENSON: We are trainers back home in Dallas, Performance Playground. So a lot of physical fitness things outdoor work, things like that.
KING: What kind of guy is he?
STEPHENSON: You know what, he is that guy that as soon as he walks into your life, you know that your life has been changed, you know, 100 percent. He rescues little kittens, birds, has a little girl's soccer team. So he has a very strong sense of his core values and he's a great teacher. He lives his life the way he wants to live it and I think that's a testament to the kind of person that he is.
KING: Looks like a bit of a cut-up, too.
STEPHENSON: A big cut-up, yes, a lot of fun.
KING: Do you mountain climb, Fred?
STEPHENSON: You know what, I actually don't. I've always asked him to teach me but, you know, after being here in Oregon and being up on the mountain, it -- I don't think I'm ready for it yet.
KING: Where do you guys live?
STEPHENSON: We live in Dallas, Texas, kind of in the uptown area, so yes, that's where we live.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with Sergeant Josh Johnston, Captain Mark Ross and Fred Stephenson. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper, the host of "A.C. 360," at the top of the hour. What's up tonight, Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, we're going to be talk about those pictures of the two missing climbers taking from the camera of now deceased climber Kelly James. We'll also show you a piece of technology the climbers should have had that some say would have led to their rescue days ago.
Also tonight, there's concern if the U.S. got into another military conflict right now, there might not be enough troops to fight. So today, the president said he's exploring ways to increase the overall size of the U.S. fighting forces. The question is, how is he going to do that? We'll take a look at that, Larry, and the latest on Tara Conner, the Miss USA who is saying she's going to go into rehab. We'll have all the latest on that.
KING: Thanks, Anderson. That's Anderson Cooper at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. More on the missing climbers, including the likelihood that the two remaining men will be found alive. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA HALL, SISTER OF BRIAN HALL: Our faith and the strengths in the minds, bodies and spirits of Nikko and Brian remain steadfast. We continue to be hopeful as we pray for their safe return. And we ask the thousands of friends, family members and strangers around the world who have been touched by this story to continue to pray for the family of Kelly James, for their continued strength and to find support in one another and in the now extended family that they have in the immediate families of Nikko and Brian.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back. Sergeant Josh Johnston, I understand there were photos found or a camera found in Kelly James' body. Anything you can tell us about that?
JOHNSTON: No, I didn't find a camera. A lot of personal artifacts up there that have been returned to the family, but no camera, no photos.
KING: You didn't find any? Captain Ross, what about these footprints that were seen, what do you know about that?
ROSS: We found two sets of tracks. One leading either to or from each cave. It was difficult to tell for sure which direction they were going or exactly how many people left those tracks. The caves were not connected directly by a set of footprints. Sergeant Johnston explored that area and we just found the cave and no tracks leading directly to either cave.
KING: Captain, are you at all -- do you have any degree of hope?
ROSS: Well, of course. I hope we find something. I hope we find more evidence. I hope we find another cave with our missing climbers in it. I hope for a lot of things right now. And we'll be ready to go up there as soon as the situation changes and we can be useful.
KING: Fred Stephenson, I understand that you were instrumental in the start of this whole search. Tell us how that came about.
STEPHENSON: Well, we have a friend that used to work at the facility that now lives in Oregon. And he was supposed to meet them on Saturday afternoon.
And when it didn't happen I got a call about 9:00 in the morning asking, you know, what I think that he should do. And after about an hour, of them not showing up, I told him to just go ahead and talk to the sheriff and start the process to try to find these guys.
KING: Sergeant Johnston, what was the snow cave like that you found Kelly James in? How would you describe it?
JOHNSTON: Well, as I was making a traverse across the -- connecting between the tracks and the first snow cave, I started to tap on a couple of rocks that were kind of an out-cropping. And I kind of had a lucky tap and went into this snow cave and it was probably large enough for three people to fit inside.
KING: Did you spot him right away?
JOHNSTON: No. You couldn't actually see the snow cave, and so I could just -- it was kind of a lucky tap into his -- into this snow cave. And then once I opened it up, you could see him right away.
KING: With the weather getting worse, Sergeant, does this get increasingly more pessimistic?
JOHNSTON: I'm not so much of a pessimist. I think there's still hope and we're always on stand by ready for any call.
KING: Captain Ross, there's a -- I know you can't go up in weather like is going to happen here, right? You can't look in that kind of weather?
ROSS: Well, Larry, we spent three days looking in some of the most extreme weather I've been in on Mt. Hood. You can't fly in weather like that, but you can send in ground searchers. They have to be highly trained so they don't become victims themselves. They have to be specially equipped and they have to know the area. So out of area rescuers don't do well in that situation.
But when early on in the rescue when the odds were very good, it justified sending people out into that extreme weather. At this point, we may not take such high risks to continue looking for them. The sheriff will make that call.
KING: Captain, why do you do what you do?
ROSS: Well, I suppose there's a number of reasons. But missions like this are a big part of it. It's most gratifying when we return people to their loved ones, preferably alive. It's sort of heart- wrenching to be away from it right now. As you know, we moved back to our base in Portland, just within view of Mt. Hood. And it's kind of emotional not being up there, being close to it right now. That's an attraction to the job. I think everybody I work with is very emotionally committed to this kind of work. It's satisfying even when it's not pleasant.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments on this edition of LARRY KING live right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF JOE WAMPLER, HOOD RIVER COUNTY, OREGON: This office is not going to give up until somebody tells me that the risk of doing this thing outweighs the results. And until I hear that, I'm not giving up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back.
Fred Stephenson, one of the sheriffs made a statement today they might be spinning their wheels. Did that caused you to kind of, sort of give up?
STEPHENSON: Well, you know, not at this point because I know that if anyone could get these guys down, it would be the group that's here now. And these guys are wonderful. And until they tell me otherwise, I still think there is some hope for those guys to come down.
KING: Now, you came from Dallas to Oregon, right? Have you met with these people in the rescue efforts?
STEPHENSON: Yes, sir. We have met with some of them. But for the most part, it's been, you know, it's been kind of hectic, so we didn't want to complicate things. So we kind of stayed back.
But you know, the people that we did meet and the people that we do know, I mean, they're just marvelous people. They're great people. My hats are off to them.
KING: Captain Ross, how many people are involved in the search? Have they reduced the number?
ROSS: Yes, Larry, the number has been reduced significantly as of today. The air assets have redeployed to their home bases. The Air Force Para Rescue Team is back here in Portland. Most of the volunteer searchers from the Hood River crag rats and Porter (ph) Mountain Rescue have returned to their homes to rest up and recover, repair their equipment. But there are still searchers at Cloud Cap on the north side and at Timberline on the south side ready to go. So if the weather breaks and they have an opportunity to go look at something, they'll be there to do that.
KING: Josh, have you met with Kelly James' relatives?
JOHNSTON: Yes, I have. I talked with his brother yesterday and we had a good conversation with a good bit of closure.
KING: How did they take all this?
JOHNSTON: He is -- his brother is staying in high spirits. And it's a very strong family. They're all very impressive group of people.
KING: Fred, are you in touch with Brian Hall's family?
STEPHENSON: Yes, sir. We are. We've seen them daily and, you know, they're just a great group of people, strong, you can understand where Brian gets his values from because these people are -- they're just marvelous people.
KING: Did Brian talk a lot about his mountain climbing?
STEPHENSON: You know what? He did. he actually did. It was one of those things that, to him, it was like this very spiritual type of event, and, you know, during the day, we'd ask him questions, he talks about it. It was just one of those things that he loved to do. And he's doing what he loved to do.
KING: And Captain Ross, when you keep coming up empty, does that discourage you from going on?
ROSS: Well, it's difficult. You really hope you go out and find something. You want to be productive each day. But there are other ways to be motivated other than finding things in the snow. We had the chance to meet some family members today. And that's, of course, an emotional experience, but it's incredibly motivating, as well. So there are ways to stay motivated, even when you're not coming up with clues in the snow every day.
KING: Thank you all very much. And we wish you luck tomorrow.
That's tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Tomorrow night, John Ramsey will be us, the father of JonBenet Ramsey. I haven't seen or talked with him in quite some time.
John Ramsey, tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.
Right now, let's head for New York.
"AC 360" with Anderson Cooper, it's coming up on 10:00 Eastern -- Anderson.
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