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CNN Larry King Live
Scandal on Capitol Hill
Aired October 03, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, horrifying new details in that Amish school massacre, five girls and their shooter dead, now word the killer said he'd molested relatives and dreamed of molesting again and chilling evidence he may have been ready to try it yesterday. We're on the scene in Pennsylvania with a pastor who's met with the families of the shooter and his victims.
DAVID ROTH: Mark has asked that you be told that between the ages of 13 and 15 he was molested by a clergyman.
KING: Who knew what and when about those shocking e-mails Congressman Mark Foley allegedly sent a young male page? As the scandal puts the heat on the GOP leadership we've got the first interview with John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted." Foley wrote the child protection law named for his murdered son.
Plus, a former intern in Foley's office tells us what it was like to work there. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Good evening. I'm in Washington.
We go first to Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania and, with us there, is Reverend Rob Schenck, the president of the National Clergy Council, president of the D.C.-based Faith and Action Ministry; Allan Chertoff, our CNN correspondent; and Calvin Keene, Bart Township supervisor where Monday's school shooting occurred.
Reverend Schenck, you met today with not only the relatives of the victims but the relatives of the killer. What was that like?
REV. ROB SCHENCK, MET TODAY WITH FAMILIES OF SHOOTER AND VICTIMS: Well, Larry, you can only imagine how devastated this family is. This is a fine Christian family, church involved family and not only have they lost a son. I spoke at length with his parents. But, of course, the husband I spoke with his brother-in-law. They are absolutely shattered.
They had no clue this was coming. They knew he was troubled but they had no idea of the scale of it. And, not only have they lost him to a suicide, which is devastating enough but they've also lost their idealized image of their loved one and so it really compounds their suffering.
KING: How do they explain it?
SCHENCK: Well, they're at a loss to explain it, Larry. They really don't have words to explain it. They loved Charles very much, still do. They love one other. They have a strong church community.
But, you know, I looked at them, Larry, and I looked at them as secondary victims because while our hearts naturally go out to all of the other victims and their families, often the families of the perpetrators in these terrible acts are forgotten.
SCHENCK: And they ought not to be. They need as much love and care and prayer as anyone else.
KING: And then we understand you attended the viewing of one of the victims inside her parents' home, actually watched the preparing of the body for the wake. What was that like?
SCHENCK: Well, obviously it's a very moving experience. Words are not adequate to describe what it is to watch the Amish community care for a child in this way. The tender loving care of her mother for her child's body was something I will never forget as long as I have breath in my body.
But I'll tell you what impressed me most was right there at that child's casket the grandfather was speaking about how important it is to forgive this man. He said, "We teach our young people not to think evil of this man that in the end that will only destroy them."
And so it was a real atmosphere of what I took to be genuine forgiveness, as much as it was possible at that stage, so it was really one of the most moving experiences I think I will ever have.
KING: Calvin Keene is the Bart Township supervisor where all of this occurred. What's been the effect on the town, Calvin?
CALVIN KEENE, SUPERVISOR, BART TOWNSHIP, PA: Well, it's a very somber couple of days, of course. It's very sad. There's much reflection. This is a community that pulls together and the Amish and the English live together, work together, and we're all neighbors and we all need each other. Irregardless of whether there's a tragedy or happiness or what there is, we live and work with each other.
KING: Did you know Charles Roberts?
KEENE: Did I know who?
KING: Charles Roberts?
KEENE: No, I did not know him personally. I know several members of his wife's family.
KING: It's going to take a long time to recuperate. Allan Chertoff from a reportorial standpoint what was this like for you?
ALLAN CHERTOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Of course, Larry, the tragedy here is just so enormous but what is also very interesting here is how Roberts seems to have kept inside of himself this anger that absolutely no one knew about.
And it was only moments just before he began the shooting that he confessed to his wife his deepest, darkest secret. He did confess to her and the police are not certain this is true but he did say that he had molested two relatives 20 years ago when he would have been 12 years old.
The police say those relatives would have been three or fours years old, this his deepest secret, and he confessed to his wife that he had been having dreams for the past two years of doing it once again. And the police believe he had been on the verge of attempting that in the Amish schoolhouse.
KING: So, the obvious question, Allan is, OK, you're tormented so you shoot yourself. What are you killing others for?
CHERTOFF: Absolutely, Larry, the same question I asked myself. In fact, so many times in these sorts of crimes people are tormented. They take out their anger on others and, of course, it's just such a tragic, such a tragic ending.
KING: Reverend Schenck, do you think they're ever going to be really consolable?
SCHENCK: Well, Larry, probably not. I mean these are lifelong scars. They change people. But the strength of the community here spiritually and socially is so great that I think if anyone can recover these folks can do it with time and a lot of love and understanding and the prayers of God's people when I know thousands and thousands of people have contacted my organization saying they are praying for these people.
And, I was told by both families, both Charles Roberts' family, as well as one of the victim's families that that meant more to them than anything else that could be offered in their suffering.
KING: Thank you all very much.
When we come back, Washington scandal, the president weighs in. And, a stunning admission today from disgraced Congressman Foley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID ROTH: Mark has asked that you be told that between the ages of 13 and 15 he was molested by a clergyman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Welcome back; John Walsh later.
Joining us, excuse me, joining us now from New York is Brian Ross, one of the best investigative journalists ever. He's ABC News chief investigative correspondent and the first to report the story of Mark Foley's e-mails and has been following up with a series of exclusives.
How did you first learn of this, Brian?
BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, it began with the instant messages coming over the website to us last Friday, prior to that we had received the e-mails, which were tamer, not sexually explicit at all. We asked Foley about them last Thursday. He said it's just a case of being overly friendly.
We posted that on the ABC News website, the Blotter, and within hours we heard from former pages who said, "Foley's not telling the truth. Would you like to see some instant messages?" And we got those and on Friday afternoon, Matty Souer (ph) of my staff called the Foley office. They called back an hour later and said, "He's going to resign."
KING: Whoa. We have an e-mail question for you from Lotty (ph) in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. "Why hasn't Foley been arrested? Anybody else caught doing this type of thing would have already been booked and a mug shot taken and fingerprinted."
ROSS: Well, the FBI has opened a preliminary investigation. They're taking a look at the e-mails that we've posted online. I know as a fact they've been out now trying to seek pages from the last four or five class of pages to see if they have any information. We've talked to several pages now who have been contacted by the FBI, so that is the next step in what is becoming a full field investigation by the FBI.
KING: Did he ask you, did the Congressman ask you to delay this?
ROSS: The chief of -- his former chief of staff, who is now the chief of staff for Congressman Tom Reynolds, asked us -- he tried to offer us a deal in fact. He said, "We'll give you the exclusive on the resignation if you don't put the instant messages and the text of the messages on the air." And, we declined the deal.
KING: Did you give it a thought though?
ROSS: Not really. I don't want to cut a deal with anyone like that. I want to have the ability to report whatever we want to report. There was no advantage to that kind of a deal at all.
KING: ABC broke some more stuff today. Can you get us to speed?
ROSS: Well, some of these instant messages occurred apparently when Foley was about to vote. It goes back to April of 2003. The vote that night was on the appropriations bill for the war in Iraq and, prior to the vote down to six minutes before the vote, he's engaging in a very lurid back and forth exchange with an underage male who had been a page. It appears they were having essentially Internet sex.
KING: Dana Bash is with us now. She's here in Washington as well. What's the latest, Dana, on the Hill? Can Hastert survive? He got a strong supporting statement today from the president.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he sure did and that certainly helped, you know. This day everybody here is still spinning and certainly probably won't stop until, you know, God knows when.
But essentially the answer to that is Speaker Dennis Hastert has spent all day long, Larry, burning up the phone lines, calling fellow Republican lawmakers, trying to make the case that he should stay in his job.
Now, why did he have to do this? This morning there was a bombshell that went off and that is there was an editorial in a conservative newspaper here in Washington, the "Washington Times," saying that he should resign that simply he either turned a blind eye to what was happening with Mark Foley or didn't take it seriously enough, was too focused on getting reelected and getting Republicans reelected.
So, what he has been trying to do today both privately in phone calls and on Republican talk radio is trying to convince conservatives out there who are very upset with Republicans thinking that they're just not dealing with morality that he should stay in his job and the Republican leadership should as well.
KING: What are these Republicans saying to you?
BASH: They're -- to say that they're upset and distraught over this is an understatement. I talked to several Republican lawmakers who are out around the country right now, of course. It's a month before Election Day and they're out with their constituents. They're out with potential voters.
And, I talked to about five of them today and they said they are hearing nothing really besides this, questions about Mark Foley, questions about the way the Republican leadership handled it.
You know, talking to the Republicans they say, "Look, Iraq certainly that's a big problem but it's a little bit abstract. This it's not abstract. It's about parents. It's about their kids. And, it's about, you know, basic values and how to keep kids safe." This people understand they say.
KING: Brian Ross, what was your first reaction when you saw those instant messages?
ROSS: My reaction was if these are, in fact, written by the Congressman, he should probably go to jail. They are so explicit. They're just as bad as you can imagine, just horrific.
KING: When did this all start?
ROSS: Well, we've been told by pages they were warned to watch out for Foley as far back as 2001. That class in particular, several pages in that class are the people who received these very explicit, lurid messages.
So it goes back at least to then and we're told even prior to that there are indications that he was hitting on, spending too much time with these male pages, who are high school juniors, the best and the brightest.
They come to Washington to be part of the political scene and they look up to Congressmen. Congressmen are sort of their rock stars. They're kind of the groupies and he seems to have taken advantage of that.
KING: Dana, I know you know him since you cover the Hill so well, a lot of people telling us today, and this always happens in stories like this, what a nice guy he is.
BASH: That's right. That is certainly -- that is exactly the term that you hear when you talk to people who knew him. You know, we interviewed him, talked to him many, many times for various stories that we're doing and certainly that was the persona that came across.
I mean just think about his main issue. His main issue, of course ironically, perhaps most troubling here, is that it was to try to help exploited kids and wrote laws to crack down on Internet predators and that was his persona, so that is why this is sort of out there.
Now, you know, what came out today, Larry, that his lawyer said explicitly is that Mark Foley is gay and that is something that was really an open secret around Congress for a long time among Republicans, among Democrats. Everybody knew it but, you know, no one talked about it. And, you know, the issue wasn't so much that and it was what he was trying to do for kids allegedly.
KING: Thank you both very much, Brian Ross of ABC News, what a job, and Dana Bash, one of the best, CNN Congressional Correspondent.
When we come back, two of the former pages Mark Foley sponsored and what they saw or didn't see during their time in office.
And, as we go to break, here's the president weighing in on the matter today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We also had a reminder of the need for people in positions of responsibility to uphold that responsibility when it comes to children in the case of Congressman Mark Foley.
I was dismayed and shocked to learn about Congressman Foley's unacceptable behavior. I was disgusted by the revelations and disappointed that he would violate the trust of the citizens who placed him in office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. MARK FOLEY (R), FLORIDA: Today in the Internet age, we also need to add the moniker of "do not talk to strangers online." They may pretend to be your classmate, your scout mate, someone you know. Regrettably, it may be somebody you know. It may be a neighbor in proximity. It may be a deviant who has taken the information that they know firsthand, entice you in the conversation to relax and let your guard down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us by phone is our good friend, frequent contributor to this program, John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted." Mark Foley was founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on missing and exploited children.
You've had a lot of past dealings, John, with Mr. Foley. What was it like when you heard this?
JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Completely heartbroken, sad, and absolutely appalled. You know, I've been tracking guys like this for 20 years. I thought I knew about them. I thought that my gut feeling was probably a good one with people.
He had a track record. He had worked with us on these issues before and I feel really betrayed and completely confused. I think the best thing is that it's come to light and that those boys haven't been harmed that he never got to them and I think that's the case. That's the best thing.
But, it's just how he could possibly lead this double life, I know his staff is destroyed. They believed in this guy. You know, the people that worked with him on Adam's bill, you know, Chairman Hastert -- I mean in the House and Joe Biden and Orrin Hatch and Chairman Sensenbrenner in the House, you know, all these people worked with this man, believed in him and, you know, it's heartbreaking and just -- it's just sad.
It just confirmed one thing to me, Larry, and you and I have talked about it for years that the compulsion of someone who wants to have sex with children is so strong that they'll risk anything. And, until we figure out how to cure these people, I don't care whether they're a cop, the pope, they're a rabbi, a minister, a Congressman, a priest, they need to be held accountable for their actions.
KING: A couple things revealed today, did you know that he was gay?
WALSH: You know that was always the issue on Capitol Hill and I think that his response in the past was that "That's my business and would you ask President Bush or would you ask, you know, Chairman Harry Reed if he was straight?" I think in the 21st Century people have a right to keep their sexuality, you know, to themselves. But, you know, making overt advances to 16-year-old boys from a 52-year-old man is nothing about gay. It's about pedophilia.
KING: It was reported today, his attorney said that he was a victim of sexual abuse himself as a young man. Did he ever share that with you since he worked hard on these bills? Did he ever say to you, "You know I was a victim once?"
WALSH: No, he never brought that up. You know, I never really get a chance to socialize with members of Congress. You know, my belief is that you go to them and say "This is the right thing to do."
And for years he had a track record and I'm not surprised. I mean lots of people were sexually abused and molested and they turned into abusers and molesters but not everybody.
We have people that work at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who try to break that chain. They were abused. And I hope he's not using it for an excuse. Maybe this was an overt cry for help that he needs help but there's no excuse. He has to be held accountable for what he did.
KING: Knowing how tough you are in your opinion from what you've studied and looked at, is this a criminal act?
WALSH: Well, this is bad. I mean I just today looked at some of those e-mails and they are -- they're disgusting. They're creepy. They're very, you know, they're way over the top and it's almost -- they're an enticement in my opinion.
And I think the most ironic thing, the FBI is looking at him, local and state agencies are looking at him but I think the most ironic thing is here's a guy now again it was Dennis Hastert and James Sensenbrenner in the House that really championed this bill and got it through but Mark Foley had a lot to do with it and his staff of writing this bill.
I think the whole terrible irony is that a big part of this bill is about stiffer penalties and making it a federal crime to entice children over the Internet. And this man may get indicted or may go to jail by the very piece of legislation that he supported. It's a really sad and pathetic irony.
KING: Do you feel deceived or angry or both?
WALSH: Both, absolutely. I really -- I really don't know how, you know, that he could live this lie. I mean I have hunted these guys down for a long time and I don't -- he must have been at terrible odds or else he has that sociopathic attitude that what he is doing isn't wrong, like different kinds of serial killers and pedophiles have.
This is the most disturbing thing. They don't ever think they're going to be found out. They don't think that they're ever going to be held accountable. And, thank God, whoever came forward with those e- mails again that has exposed him, you know, while he's been leading this double life and these boys weren't lured somewhere.
And he says he's an alcoholic. He needs trouble -- I mean he needs counseling. That's troubling. But what if something bad had happened? I mean it would have been terrible and, you know, the bottom line is again he has to be held accountable for his actions. That's the bottom line whoever you are.
KING: And one other thing, John. You said to me last night the one thing this points out is you never know.
WALSH: You never know.
KING: The guy next door, the guy across the street, the bus driver, the mail carrier, the Congressman could be a pedophile.
WALSH: Absolutely and I'm not talking about creating paranoia here. I think this is a real life lesson and an ironic lesson that he could stay and lead this double life with all this exposure and be -- say that he was a champion for children.
I profiled cops that were pedophiles. You and I have often talked about the many priests in the Catholic religion, and I'm a Catholic, who destroyed kids' lives and were moved around to destroy other kids' lives.
So, you're absolutely right. This is a real life lesson. It could be a guy posing as an advocate for children while he's trying to lure 16-year-old naive boys.
KING: Thanks, John. We'll see you again soon.
WALSH: Thank you, Larry.
KING: John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted." We certainly thank him for participating tonight.
We will meet our intern and our page right after the break.
And, as we go to break here is Congressman Foley's attorney today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID ROTH: Mark does not blame the trauma he sustained as a young adolescent for his totally inappropriate e-mails and IM's. He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct. As is so often the case with victims of abuse, Mark advises that he kept his shame to himself for almost 40 years.
Specifically, Mark has asked that you be told that between the ages of 13 and 15 he was molested by a clergyman. Mark will address this issue further upon his release from treatment.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Joining us now on the phone from Durham, North Carolina is Jason Gross, a congressional page in the summer of 2002 sponsored by Congressman Foley. He's currently enrolled at Duke University. And here in Washington, Raymond Schillinger. He is from Foley's district in Florida. His family has known Mark Foley for many years. He's a student at Georgetown and was an intern, not a page, an intern in Foley's congressional office.
Jason, what do you make of all of this?
JASON GROSS, CONGRESSIONAL PAGE IN FOLEY'S OFFICE, 2002: Well, Larry, it was a shocking, shocking revelations that came to light over the last few days.
Overall, I had a very positive experience on Capitol Hill in 2002. It's a good program for students interested in how the government functioned, and, you know, getting a firsthand look at how bills are debated and voted on. And it was just very shocking to learn this.
KING: Did he ever approach you?
GROSS: No, absolutely not. There were never any inappropriate incidents, and no lines were ever crossed. He was -- he was engaging, like many of the other congressmen, with the pages. But you know, nobody ever really thought anything of it. Some of the congressmen were simply more friendly than others.
KING: Raymond, you're from his district in Florida, you've known the family for years. What do you make of it?
RAYMOND SCHILLINGER, INTERN IN FOLEY'S OFFICE, SPRING 2006: Well, you know, Larry, first it was disbelief. Having known Congressman Foley personally, been a family friend, I found it very, very difficult to accept that these emails and these conversations were from him. Then I read the instant messages, and it -- just total disgust. Total disgust.
KING: Did you intern for him?
SCHILLINGER: I did. Actually, in spring of this year, January to May, after these incidents supposedly had taken place.
KING: Did he ever approach you?
SCHILLINGER: I never had an encounter with him that was in any way suggestive, uncomfortable. He was always affable, friendly, but I never felt he was being over-friendly.
KING: Do you know any of the people who have been sent these emails?
SCHILLINGER: No. We don't come in that much contact with the congressional pages, as a matter of fact. And I know these took place, you know, in the years past. I don't know who they are. I don't know their identities.
KING: Jason, do you know any of the young men?
GROSS: I do not. I do not. I was really only -- I really only knew the pages in my class in 2002.
KING: So this shock, Raymond, is genuine. What -- you're an intelligent young man.
SCHILLINGER: Well, thank you, Larry.
KING: What do you make of it? Where do you stretch this to? Or is it just that pedophiles are pretty good at hiding that they're pedophiles?
SCHILLINGER: Well, you know, I don't -- it's only been five days, and I don't know what to totally think of it, Larry. But having worked in the office and having Congressman Foley being such a champion of protecting children from sex offenders. I mean, you had John Walsh on just a few minutes ago on the phone. John Walsh came into the office while I was working there and filmed a promo segment about the new legislation that had just been passed on behalf of his son. And John Walsh used the word betrayal, and I think that's what it really comes down to, betrayal.
KING: And how do you feel, Jason?
GROSS: You know, again, just absolutely disgusted by the Internet exchanges, and it was really shocking, because there really was never any perception that he had this dark side to him. And, you know, I think he's going to have to bear the -- accept the punishment for it. It's especially important for him to be prosecuted because he was such a leader in this fight against child exploitation.
KING: So what we have here is a classic case, Raymond, of hypocrisy?
SCHILLINGER: That's true, that's correct, Larry. And it's really a shame that it in a way stigmatizes perhaps the page program in a way that it shouldn't be stigmatized. You know, I hope it doesn't do the same that, say, the Monica Lewinsky situation did for interns. You know, I don't think that stigma is appropriate. This is an isolated or hopefully an isolated incident, but it's a total shame, what happened.
KING: Thank you both very much. Jason Gross from Durham, and Raymond Schillinger here in Washington.
We have an outstanding panel coming to discuss this, and you'll meet them right after these words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID ROTH, FOLEY'S ATTORNEY: There was absolutely never any inappropriate sexual contact with any minor. He has acknowledged full responsibility for the inappropriate e-mails and inappropriate IMs. There never has been any sexual contact with a minor, and any suggestion that Mark Foley is a pedophile...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We got those instant things here, right? OK, and they're in the -- I'll use them in these two segments, and we have three graphics, right?
KING: Joining us now in Boston, David Gergen, editor at large, "U.S. News and World Report," professor of public service at Harvard's JFK School of Government. He served as a White House adviser to many presidents. Here in Washington, Lanny Davis, an old friend, who served as special White House counselor to President Clinton, author of "Scandal: How Gotcha Politics Is Destroying America." Also in Washington, Melanie Sloan, executive director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, aka CREW. She's also a former federal prosecutor. She's prosecuted sex crimes. And in New York, our newfound friend, Dr. Keith Ablow, psychiatrist and best- selling author, host of the syndicated TV program "The Dr. Keith Ablow Show."
We'll start with you, Dr. Keith. The revelation that the congressman was molested as a child, how should that affect the way this case is handled?
DR. KEITH ABLOW, HOST, "THE DR. KEITH ABLOW SHOW": Well, I'm not sure it will affect the way that the case is handled. It certainly is the case, however, that many abused children go on to become abusers, and I think the lesson here to some extent is that the things you won't look at come back to haunt you decades later, often. And this is something that was in this man's past that he wasn't able to cope with it, and he was able to draw a line of distinction between his public persona and these private demons. It never works, Larry. The past needs to be examined in order to be overcome.
KING: David, why is it spreading so widely?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Larry, this is one of these offenses that every parent of a teenager understands immediately. You know, one of the greatest fears that parent's have is that their child may be preyed upon some sexual predator, and now with the Internet, of course, that fear is, you just never know what's going to happen, just even in your own home.
So, I think this is one of these kinds of -- is almost like someone being in your bedroom late at night, sort of a primal fear. Given all that, and given the fact that while the Republican leadership may not have seen the graphic exchanges, they did know it was a problem. And given the background of the catholic church that too often covered up, this strikes home Larry, and it raises all sorts of questions about the responsibility of Republicans, who are after all such champions of family values, what responsibilities they exercise when they have power.
KING: Lanny, can this be compared to Lewinsky/Clinton? LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL COUNSEL: You know, it's all about a private behavior situation, and I think Democrats have to be real careful not to try to turn this into a political partisan issue. David Gergen, as usual, has it right, it's about parents, it's about children, it's about why the Republican leadership took so long. They did not consult, Larry, the Democratic member of the House page committee. They only consulted the Republican member. That was a decision that they're going to regret, because they didn't act as quickly as they should have acted.
KING: What you just said sounds political.
DAVIS: Well, here's the thing. We have to ask for an investigation and get the facts out and stop and be quiet. I'm an admirer of Howard Dean, but the Democratic National Committee puts a press release out today. It's a purely political organization. That's what we should not do. We have to be very careful about not allowing this to exploited politically. Of course we need to ask questions and have the facts speak for themselves, but that's about it.
KING: Melanie, let me show the audience one of the instant messages that MAF54, who is Congressman Foley, that's his I.D.. He is talking to a teenager -- what are you wearing? The teen says t-shirt and shorts. And he said -- love to slip them off of you.
You've prosecuted criminally, is that criminal?
MELANIE SLOAN, EXEC. DIR., CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY & ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: Well, it all depends on the age of the young man involved. If that man is under 16, then yes it would be prosecutable. If he's between 16 and 18, I think that it may only be prosecutable if in fact Mr. Foley then also tried to make an arrangement to meet with that young man. There's a federal statute that criminalizes actually using the Internet to try and meet with a young person for the purpose of sexual action.
KING: You prosecuted pedophiles, right?
KING: What do you make of them? Who are they? What causes it?
SLOAN: Well, they can be just about anybody, as we've heard earlier, but one thing that's very interesting is the fact of being sexually abused yourself as a young person does not in fact make you more likely to be a sexual abuser than other people. Some people turn out to be sex abusers who were abused, but not everybody. And I am sickened really by the excuse that Mr. Foley has put forward today that because he was the victim himself, now he has victimized somebody else.
KING: Doctor Ablow, does the hypocrisy lessen our compassion?
ABLOW: Well, the hypocrisy, you know, could lesson our compassion, of course. This is somebody who is preying upon young people. I don't think he fits the definition of a pedophile because classically that definition only includes those people who are attracted to pre-pubescent children. This man is apparently attracted to adolescents, so I'm not sure he fits the definition, but let me tell you, the sex drive runs like a freight train through the center of our lives. And things that happen to you as a developing young adult or child get piled on that train, and so I beg to differ with our esteemed colleague here.
Believe me, kids who are abused, they do run a higher risk of becoming abusers, because it becomes paradoxically exciting to them, simply because the sex drive is developing at a time they're deprived of their human rights and at a time that they're essentially depersonalized. So that becomes strangely sexually exciting to men like this.
KING: David, let me read you another instant message sent. This one says, "do I make you a little horny?" The teen says "a little." Then Congressman Foley supposedly says "cool." What is this going to do political to this whole congressional election?
GERGEN: Well, it's clearly changed at least one seat in Florida. That was probably going to go Republican, which makes it a little harder for Republicans to keep the House, but I think, Larry, it's taken off at warp speed as a scandal, so that now it's enveloped the Republican leadership. There's a major question in Washington tonight whether the Republican leader Denny Hastert will survive.
It clearly is going to act as a dampener on Republican enthusiasm for this race, so that they may not have the turnout they were looking for. And very importantly, Larry, the momentum after Labor Day was moving in the Republican direction. The president did a very skillful job of sort of stoking the fires on the war against terrorism, changing the focus away from Iraq to the larger war on terrorism, and he was coming back. The party was starting to come back. They had the best ten days they've had in months, and along comes the Bob Woodward book, the intelligent report, and very importantly this Mark Foley story, and that just stopped the momentum in its tracks and reversed momentum.
So the Democrats are the ones who now feel like they're on the offensive. Momentum five weeks before an election, it's really important.
KING: We'll get a break and come back with our panel, then meet two members of Congress. But first let's check in with Anderson Cooper, who tonight is in the Congo. He's always somewhere. Anderson, what's up on "AC 360?"
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, we're also going to be focusing on Congressman Foley, as well. We're also going to be doing something I don't think any broadcast has ever done this, covering two major humanitarian crises in Africa at the same time. The latest on the crisis in Darfur. CNN's Jeff Koinange and Sanjay Gupta are up there, also along the Chad border and inside Darfur.
And we're in the country called the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a lot of people don't know what's been going on here, but for the last ten years, a war has been fought here, the deadliest conflict since World War II. Three to four million people have died here, their deaths have virtually gone unnoticed. We'll have the latest on the humanitarian crisis affecting central Africa, as well as Darfur, Larry, that's at the top of the hour.
KING: Thanks, Anderson, doing, as we say, Yeomen like work.
We'll be right back with our panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We have limited time, because we want to talk to two prominent members of Congress before we wind things up tonight, but Melanie you just said a surprising thing. You think the FBI had these e-mails long ago?
SLOAN: They've had them since July 21st, when my organization, Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington sent them to them. We sent them over to the FBI. I spoke with an agent in the Washington field office, and I asked them to investigate, because the initial e- mail, though not sexually explicit, are deeply troubling and indicate that somebody is involved in sexual activity with young people.
KING: What did they say to you?
SLOAN: They didn't say anything, but I wouldn't have expected to hear back from them at that time, because I'm a civilian and it's a law enforcement investigation. But yesterday we learned the Department of Justice is only now beginning an investigation, which means for the past several months, they haven't been investigating in any way.
KING: What do you make of that?
DAVIS: I have no idea why Speaker Hastert or anybody in the House didn't at least tell Mr. Foley when they first learned about this, you need to resign and get help and get out in front of this story rather than waiting and allowing it to blow up in October.
They're complaining about the timing of this. They could have gotten out in front of this, conducted an investigation, had him resign, seek help, and that could have happened as long ago, I now learn, as last May.
KING: David, are you surprised that the FBI had this early?
GERGEN: I think a lot depends on what was in the e-mails. The FBI investigates crimes. If they didn't see evidence of crimes, it's not surprising they wouldn't investigate.
On the question of what -- the Republican leadership, that's a different matter. I see no evidence so far, Larry -- and I think we ought to be careful about this. I see no evidence that they actually saw explicit, graphic e-mail exchanges of one sort or another until very recently.
The real issue here is their negligence, whether they should have -- once the red flags went up, because they are protectors of these children, after all. They act in loco parentis, as a House, as Lanny makes clear.
They have some responsibility to children, and why -- if there were rumors, especially among the pages, watch out for this guy, as we're learning there were a lot of pages telling each other this guy is dangerous, watch out for him -- why a group of people who were in charge of the program didn't look into it more closely, more aggressively, I think that's the big question tonight, and what responsibility do they bear for not doing that?
KING: We'll be doing a lot more on this, and we'll certainly have you back, Keith Ablow, but we've got to take a break because we want to meet Congressman Ray LaHood in Illinois and Representative Robert Wexler of Florida. We thank the panel. We'll be right back.
KING: Joining us, two distinguished members of Congress. In Peoria, Illinois is Congressman Ray LaHood, Republican or Illinois. And here in Washington is Congressman Robert Wexler, a Democratic Congressman from Florida, oddly enough from Palm Beach County, right next to Mr. Foley's area of representation.
Congressman LaHood, you're close with Speaker Hastert. What do you make of all regarding the Republican leadership?
REP. RAY LAHOOD (R), ILLINOIS: Well, look, I think the speaker has done the very best that he could, and I think his staff probably let him down by not disclosing to him the information when they had it. I think if it had been disclosed to him, he would have been brought Foley in, had a Dutch uncle talk with him about it, and really monitored much more closely.
The fact is, the speaker didn't know about it, because his staff didn't tell him about it and, you know, I really fault his staff on this, and I think -- I've recommended to the speaker that he at least temporarily suspend the page program, send the pages home, evaluate the program, see if it really is a program that works in the 21st century Congress.
I think it's a flawed program. I think the pages ought to go home. I think if I were a parent of one of the pages, they would be back in Peoria and they wouldn't be in Washington, D.C.
KING: Congressman Wexler, I imagine you know Congressman Floyd (sic) pretty well.
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: Yes, I know Mr. Foley well, yes.
KING: He's the neighboring district, right?
KING: What do you make of all this.
WEXLER: It's tragic. It's tragic in many ways. There are many people that are hurt, and unfortunately it exposes ...
KING: I said Congressman Floyd. I meant Congressman Foley.
WEXLER: It exposes -- yes, it exposes a great tragedy in American politics and, unfortunately, there are young people that have been victims. But what Mr. LaHood says is also very troubling to me in terms of the reaction of the leadership. Mr. Gergen said just before that the speaker and the Republican leadership's actions at a minimum was negligence.
Now, the Republican leadership says get rid of the page program. That's an incredible admission that the leaders of the Congress of the United States say we're not comfortable being able to protect young people in our own House, in the House of Representatives. What we actually need to change is not the page program. We need to change the leadership in Congress. That's what the American people wish.
KING: And Congressman LaHood, if it was the fault of the staff though, doesn't the buck stop with the boss?
LAHOOD: It does stop with the speaker, but this program was flawed when the Democrats were -- and Rob knows that. Rob knows that when the Democrats were in control, there was a Massachusetts Congressman who was having an affair with a boy page. This program is antiquated. This program is flawed.
It should have been eliminated by the Democrats, and I think under our watch, we should have the good sense to send the pages home, analyze the program, evaluate it. This program has been flawed under Democrats and Republicans. Look at, Larry, there's a lot of blame to go around and we ought to recognize that this program simply doesn't work in the 21st century Congress.
WEXLER: The ultimate question, unfortunately, is why did the speaker act in secret to protect what appears to be a partisan motive? The speaker is the speaker of the House for all of America, not the Republican Party. The speaker and his office apparently only dealt with one Republican on the page committee.
Why not include the Democrat? Why not go to the FBI and demand an investigation? And that too, quite frankly, is a question which was brought up on this show, Larry. Why has Mr. Gonzales, the attorney general, not investigated this since May or June? If it was a Democratic Congressman, I wonder if the Justice Department would be so slow.
KING: Congressman LaHood?
LAHOOD: Well, look at -- Rob is trying -- you know, he's got all the talking points from Howard Dean and his the DCCC. I'd rather deal with the issue and try and solve the problem that exists. Rob wants to have some kind of a political game here tonight on your show, Larry.
And frankly, I'm not going to get into that kind of a blame game thing. You know, if Rob wants to use the talking points from Howard Dean, that's fine. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to say there's plenty of blame to go around.
WEXLER: That's right. You're right, Ray, and in 1994, the Democratic Party got arrogant and the American people made a change. The question is, the American people want ethics back in our government, and unfortunately, the Republican leadership in Congress has not provided that this week. And unfortunately, there are past examples, with Mr. DeLay and a whole host of others -- Mr. Cunningham -- where there was also a lack of action. And this is why I think that Congress is held in such low regard.
KING: Congressman LaHood ...
LAHOOD: Look at ...
KING: Sorry, go ahead.
LAHOOD: Larry, the speaker has taken strong actions. He is the one that took strong action to make sure that Tom DeLay is not in Congress, strong action to make sure that Duke Cunningham is not in Congress, strong action to make sure Bob Ney stepped down and will not be in Congress.
Look, if this speaker has handled some of the most delicate and difficult situations and he's done it in this case, and I think, you know, the people recognize that.
KING: We've got to cut you, Ray. We'll do a lot more on this. Thanks, Rob.
WEXLER: Thank you.
KING: Thanks for coming by. Congressman Ray LaHood in Peoria and Congressman Robert Wexler from Florida here in Washington with us.
Tomorrow night, we'll have our major political group here. The best political team in broadcasting will be with us, assembled to discuss all the goings on, and we also remind you that if you'd like to help those victims' families in Pennsylvania, you can write to the Nickel Mine School Victim' find, care of the Hometown Heritage Bank, P.O. 337, Strasburg, Pennsylvania, 17579.
Let's check in with Anderson Cooper, far, far away there in the Congo. Anderson, "A.C. 360" is next.
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