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CNN Larry King Live

Romney Quits Presidential Race; How Did Natalee Holloway Die?

Aired February 07, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, political bombshell -- Mitt Romney quits the presidential race.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This isn't an easy decision. I hate to lose.


KING: Where does that leave John McCain?


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm acutely aware that I cannot succeed in that endeavor without the support of dedicated conservatives.


KING: Plus, is the Natalee Holloway case finally solved? The prime suspect appears to confess on camera.


PATRICK VAN DER EEM: What happened to her? What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) happened to her? Joran, listen. I'm from Aruba. I know the beach.

JORAN VAN DER SLOOT: And I'm telling you honestly: I know what happened to that girl.

VAN DER EEM: What happened then, Joran? She's dead, isn't she?

VAN DER SLOOT: Of course. She's never going to be found.


KING: Natalee's mother and the reporter who uncovered the story react.

And Britney Spears -- will she be hounded to death?

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with my friend Glenn Beck, the host of "GLENN BECK" on CNN "Headline News" and syndicated talk radio host. Also, a "New York Times" bestselling author. The book is "An Inconvenient Book." He is an outspoken Republican on the right side of the ledger.

Let's run right down some issues. What do you make of Mitt Romney leaving today?

GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK," HEADLINE NEWS: First of all, let me just say this. Thank you very much, Mr. King, for having me on the program.

KING: My pleasure.

BECK: Second of all, I'm not a Republican. I'm actually an Independent. I am a conservative. I was a supporter of Mitt Romney. I'm disappointed that he's out. I think the economy is a giant, giant issue on what we have coming toward us in the next four years. I have -- I remember being a young kid and thinking -- and watching Lee Iacocca turn around Chrysler. And I thought, jeez, why can't we've somebody like that to turn the country around? And I think he was -- I think he was the guy to do it.

KING: John McCain, what's -- what's the rub against him? You said on your radio show, "I think John McCain is more dangerous than Hillary Clinton." Why?

BECK: Yes, well, but let me put that in context. Saying more dangerous than Hillary Clinton, to the conservative movement -- I am a conservative and the reason why I felt it was important to point out that I'm not a Republican is I think the Republicans have sold out their values. I don't think -- I don't think we've had a real conservative in the White House -- certainly haven't had -- this last Congress was not conservative.

So I think John McCain is more dangerous to the conservative movement because he will redefine it. George Bush has already begun to redefine it as some time that, somehow or another, lower taxes and gigantic spending is supposed to work. It won't work and that's not a conservative value. Lower taxes and smaller government does work.

KING: Well, but don't all candidates -- candidates on the left move to the center? They figure the left will stay with them anyway. Candidates on the right move to the center because the right is supposed to stay with them.


KING: What does McCain do now? Does he move to the center?

BECK: I don't -- you know, I -- look, you know, Larry, I'm a guy who -- I'm a conservative but I voted in Connecticut for Joe Lieberman. And the reason why I did it is because Joe Lieberman doesn't move back and forth -- with an exception of the Al Gore period of his life. He doesn't move back and forth. You know where he stands. I know Joe Lieberman to be a guy who will look you in the eye and say, Glenn, we're going to disagree on this and this and this, but this is exactly what I'm going to do. And he's right on enough issues for me -- especially on the war. I'm tired and I would think that the rest of America is tired of these politicians moving back and forth. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You know, you have -- you have the Republicans in Congress saying that they're, you know, conservatives and they're for smaller government and lower spending. And yet they spend like crazy.

And so what do the Democrats do? The Democrats say we're going to cut the earmarks, we're going to be transparent. They get in, they spend like crazy. Nobody -- at some point, the conservatives and the liberals in America need to let these parties know we're in charge and we want you to say what you mean and mean what you say.

KING: Speaking of flip-flopping, though, while Lieberman didn't flip-flop, he's got an 85 percent voting record for the -- for Democrat, for liberals.

BECK: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

KING: He's thought of as a strong liberal.

BECK: Oh, yes.

KING: So he didn't cop out going with Gore. But how about Romney for switching?

BECK: Romney is an interesting case. And I'm a big -- you know, Larry, I'm a recovering alcoholic. And I'm a big pivot point guy. I can tell you that -- the moment -- I can tell you, the room I can tell you the color, I can tell you what time of day it was when I realized, oh, my gosh, I have to change my life. My life is out of control.

So I'm a big pivot point guy. I asked Romney the first time I spoke to him on my radio program -- and I warned my audience beforehand. I said let's look for the pivot point. If this guy can't tell you what color the wallpaper was, he's lying and he's moved just to become conservative for the day.

And I asked him about his stance on abortion. He knew exactly when it happened. He had a very clear recollection of when it happened. If you don't change -- I don't mean flip-flop -- if you don't change and at times have pivot points in your life, I don't think you're alive.

KING: Yes. What do you make of all the major turnout by Democrats everywhere? In all of these primary races, they are going to the polls in greater number than Republicans.

BECK: Oh, because Republicans -- you know, the Republicans are looking at our choices and saying gosh, I wish I could I wish I could -- you feel kind of like I wish I could have Dr. Frankenstein and just slice a little bit off of each of them and sew them together. Republicans are really confused on what to do because they can't find anybody who actually stands for a majority of the values that we're supposed to have as conservatives.

When it comes to -- when it comes to the Democrats, I think that Barack Obama is the most exciting candidate we have seen in a very long time. I disagree with his point of view. But he is exactly the kind of candidate that ignites the imagination of America. He's -- again not ideologically speaking. He is Ronald Reagan. He's a guy who can look into the camera and say we're better than this.

KING: Well, isn't that then what...

BECK: We don't -- we don't have to be this way.

KING: Isn't that what Glenn Beck wants in a person, the value of the person?

BECK: I want a guy who is -- and this is what I do like about Barack Obama. I want a guy who's not afraid to say, whew, I made huge mistakes but I learned from them. I did this in my life and this in my life, but this is what I learned. And it made me a better person. I want a guy who is absolutely unafraid to say you know what, I know you're going to disagree with me on this, but I believe it to the core of my being. And if you can't vote for me, and if I lose the election because of it, that's OK. I want that. And I think most Americans want that.

KING: Glenn, congratulations on all the good things happening to you.

BECK: Thank you.

KING: Next time we'll do a lot more.

BECK: I got it. Thank you.

KING: Again, continued success. I'll see you next week in New York.

BECK: You got it. Thanks, Mr. King.

KING: Glenn Beck, the host of "GLENN BECK" on CNN "Headline News" and the author of the bestseller "An Inconvenient Book".

Our political posse of experts join me when LARRY KING LIVE returns.


ROMNEY: If this were only about me, I'd go on. But it's never been only about me. I entered this race -- I entered this race because I love America. And because I love America, in this time of war, I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and for our country.




(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: Many of you have disagreed strongly with some positions I have taken in recent years. I understand that. I might not agree with it, but I respect it for the principled position it is. And it is my sincere hope that even if you believe I have occasionally erred in my reasoning as a fellow conservative, you will still allow that I have, in many ways important to all of us, maintained the record of a conservative.


KING: We are joined now by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of "The Nation". She's in New York.

And Amy Holmes, Republican strategist and CNN political analyst. She's in Washington.

Katrina, what do you make of Romney saying good-bye?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": Conservatism in crisis. I think Romney's exit reveals the moral, political and intellectual bankruptcy of conservatism.

What's delicious, Larry, however, is to watch the right-wing media machine, the Limbaughs, the Hannitys, the Coulters, the Ingrahams, suffering from what I would McCain media -- McCain derangement syndrome. Here you have John McCain, a foot soldier in the Republican -- in the Reagan Revolution, who led the Bush reelection campaign. And they are going on because they have been rebuked -- repudiated by the foot soldiers of the GOP. And the fulminations make no sense.

KING: All right...

HEUVEL: John McCain is -- gives new meaning to the term quagmire as a warmonger, has an 82 percent American Conservative Union rating. So there is a crisis, there is a disconnect...

KING: All right.

HEUVEL: ... and there's a discombobulation.

KING: Amy, what's the rub on him?

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, clearly, Katrina is not a fan -- not a fan of McCain, not a fan of conservatives or conservative radio talk show hosts. There's not a crisis of conservatism. The problems that you afield, you have candidate who don't represent all three wings of conservatism, just as Glenn was talking with you earlier in the segment.

I was at CPAC today. It was really -- it was interesting. I was there to hear Romney. I was there to hear McCain. And what I take away from Romney actually giving that with, you know, dropout speech -- he's calling his suspension speech. Suspenders speech is the new euphemism now that the politicians are using. John Edwards used it, too. What I got from that, actually, is the strength of conservatism. Instead of going back to Massachusetts surrounded by his wife and his five sons, he addressed a conservative audience. And I think what he was doing is that he was trying to set himself up, set up a potential 2012 run, perhaps, and really ground himself and base himself in the conservative base and the conservative movement, so next time around, it's not that hard.

HEUVEL: What I...

KING: Don't...

HEUVEL: But, Amy, the speech I heard was a wing nut speech, to be honest. Because Swift Boating began as Romney exited -- not that it hasn't always been in play with the Republican Party. You had someone who was saying that he was leaving the race to defend his country from two Democratic candidates who want an end to a war that has made us less secure.

HOLMES: Which is...

HEUVEL: It was as if...

HOLMES: ...a different standard...

HEUVEL: It was as if he was face saving...

HOLMES: ...conservative position that if we pull out of Iraq...

HEUVEL: No, but he was save...

HOLMES: ...that we'll be creating a nest of jihadists and terrorists that could come back and attack this country. What he was saying today...

HEUVEL: Amy, the war has created that.

HOLMES: Hold on, Katrina. What he was saying today are very standard...

HEUVEL: Wing nut.

HOLMES: You say it's wing nut, I say it's conservative. And, you know, there's the electorate that votes for Republicans who those messages, those work. And it's about national security. It's about family and social values. You know, this is a man who was pro-choice and became -- and moved toward pro-life.

HEUVEL: It's a man who flipped so many times on the road...

HOLMES: And, Katrina, you're obviously not...


HOLMES: ...going to be buying this message. This was not meant for you. This was meant for Republican voters. KING: All right, Katrina, where -- what -- where stands this Hillary -- is that race -- is your party's race going to go to Denver?

HEUVEL: You know, Howard Dean said the other day that he doesn't want a brokered convention. My view, Larry -- and this is not conventional wisdom -- is I think this is very healthy that this race goes on. Millions of voters will be participants, not just spectators. And the enthusiasm and the turnout build with each primary.

So I think you see a great enthusiasm gap when you had three million voting Super Tuesday -- more three million voters than one million for the Republicans. And I think what you see with Hillary Clinton the other day, with the loan, it's very interesting. I mean Joe Trippi, who worked with John Edwards, thinks it shows trouble. Her campaign says it's a tactic to get more people to contribute.

What's exciting, though, is when you look at Obama -- my view, by the way, is we need public financing back. This campaign, $100 million, crazy. But if you want to bring money into the process, Obama has 50 percent small donors. He raised $27 million online. Democratization of funding in the absence of public financing is very encouraging.

KING: Amy?

HOLMES: Sure, I agree with those last points.

KING: Amy, what do you think of the other side?

HOLMES: I agree with those last points about the democratization of the process. But I think for the Democratic candidate, this is awfully dangerous. What's going to -- what's happening is that Republicans are coalescing around John McCain. And while Hillary and Obama are going at each other and fighting each other and bruising each other up, Republicans will beating up on them, too, because now they have a unified message.

You're going to be hearing a lot more from Republicans attacking Barack and/or Hillary as being ultra liberal. We know Barack got -- was the most liberal Senator in -- amongst 100 senators, which is hard to do with Ted Kennedy in the chamber. So what you're going to hear is a unified Republican Party now going after the Democrats.

So while I understand the part about bringing people in and that's exciting and I think Barack's ability to do that is extraordinary, politically, it's very dangerous.

HEUVEL: But, Amy, I don't see a unified Republican Party yet. I think you could have a John McCain out there with conservatives still attacking him and he's not able to really focus on a Democratic candidate, he's shadow boxing.

HOLMES: Well, here's the thing...

HEUVEL: I think what's interesting...


HEUVEL: ...moving ahead, by the way, on the economy, to talk issues for one moment...

KING: All right, we...

HEUVEL: We talked about the war. The economy is emerging -- our tanking economy, the anxiety and the insecurity of millions. John McCain is someone who said he doesn't care that much about the economy.

HOLMES: Oh, he never said that he doesn't care about the economy.

HEUVEL: You could have two Democratic candidates...


KING: I don't...

HOLMES: He never said that he doesn't care about it...

HEUVEL: You could have two Democratic candidates speaking focused...

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE) another point about rallying...

HEUVEL: ...about the economy.

HOLMES: Hold on.

KING: Katrina, let Amy finish.

HOLMES: Hold on. Here's the point about...

KING: Amy, go ahead.

HOLMES: ...John McCain and the party rallying around him. I think a lot of people are forgetting, you know, all of us, pundits and reporters included, that John McCain is going to be picking a running mate. And that's yet another opportunity to bring Republicans conservatives, Evangelicals, to him.

KING: That...

HOLMES: One of the great ironies, Larry, that you were getting at, which is normally in this process, the Democrat or the Republican runs to the extreme...

KING: The center.

HOLMES: Whether it's to the right or to the left, to get the primary. And then they race back to the center in the general.

KING: Right. HOLMES: With McCain, it's the opposite. So he's a Republican candidate who has put together this extraordinary coalition of moderates and independents...

KING: And then...

HOLMES: ...and now, now that it looks like he's getting the nomination, he has to run to the right.


KING: But the danger if he runs...


HOLMES: ...for Republican support.

KING: If he runs too much to the right, does he lose the independents?


HEUVEL: You know, I think...

KING: Thank you both.

HEUVEL: I think that's a serious issue, Larry. I mean I don't think it's a danger with John McCain.

KING: All right, we'll be -- all right, we've got to take a break.

HEUVEL: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right.

KING: Thank you both very much.

HEUVEL: Thank you.

KING: We'll be having you on a lot.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of "The Nation". And Amy Holmes, the Republican strategist and CNN political analyst.

Do we finally know what happened to Natalee Holloway? You'll want to see this, after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How were you so sure she was dead, Joran? You can't. You know, people can also go into a coma.



Have secretly recorded videotapes finally solved the Natalee Holloway case? It's been nearly three years since the American teenager disappeared in Aruba. Suspicion in the case has centered on Joran van der Sloot. He's been arrested and released three times in the case. But in mid-December, Aruban prosecutors announced that they were closing the investigation. And then last week, a bombshell -- hidden camera footage played on Dutch TV showed Joran claiming he was with Natalee when she collapsed on a beach in Aruba and that he asked a friend to dump her body into the sea.

Joining us now in New York is Beth Holloway, Natalee's mother. Natalee disappeared May 30th, 2005.

Also in New York is Peter Devries, the Dutch crime reporter who orchestrated the undercover surveillance operation against van der Sloot, long time suspect in the case.

Before we talk, let's take a look at a segment of the hidden camera tape some believe constitute a confession by van der Sloot. Watch.


VAN DER EEM: What happened then, Joran?

VAN DER SLOOT: Morta, she's dead, isn't she?

VAN DER SLOOT: Of course.

VAN DER EEM: Did she die or what?

VAN DER SLOOT: But do you think -- come on. I would never kill a girl.

VAN DER EEM: No, I think, so. Joran, you know (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

VAN DER SLOOT: I just lucked out, that's all. That's -- that's what it was.

VAN DER EEM: What do you mean?

VAN DER SLOOT: Well, that it's just -- something happened there.

VAN DER EEM: Well, of course, something happened there. She's no longer around, is she?

VAN DER SLOOT: Yes. And the ocean's big, isn't it?

VAN DER EEM: Of course. The sea is big, man.


KING: OK. Beth Holloway, how do you react seeing something like that, hearing something like that?

BETH HOLLOWAY, NATALIE HOLLOWAY'S MOTHER: Well, Larry, you know, it's difficult to -- you know, when I hear that, the words coming out of Joran. But I think the most difficult aspect of that is how he imitates her while she's suffering. I think that is -- gosh, that's just the hardest thing for me to comprehend as a human being, to listen to him and how he has such a disregard and just an utter, utter disregard for just the existence of human life.

And I'm thinking he certainly had the ability to seek help for her, to call an ambulance and see if someone could come. And he just chooses to call a friend to dispose of her, you know, body. And I just can't imagine another human being committing such a heinous act, or just such a barbaric action.

KING: Do you gather from listening to that she -- she was not murdered?

HOLLOWAY: Well, when I hear Joran, what I'm hearing, though, is he doesn't know, Larry, if Natalee was alive or not when he decided to dispose of her body. So, yes, he is a murderer, Larry, to me.

KING: Yes, all right.

HOLLOWAY: There is no way a 17-year-old can make a decision whether a young woman is alive or not. She could have been in a coma easily.

KING: Peter, explain how this whole -- this tape came about.

PETER DEVRIES, REPORTER, INITIATED ON-CAMERA "STING": Well, Larry, this tape came about because some guy named Patrick came to me and he said I am a close friend of Joran, he trusts me completely and I think he's not telling the truth about what happened to Natalee that night on the beach.

Is there something I can do for you? Yes. Well, I said, I think so. And then we worked out a plan with the hidden camera and the undercover camera operation.

KING: Why do you think he confessed?

DEVRIES: Well, I think he confessed because he was just released out of prison. The case was closed and he considered himself as a winner of the case. And, well, this guy Patrick, he trusted him completely. They were playing poker. They were cruising around. And he thought it was safe to tell him in the car.

KING: Now, Patrick -- who unearthed the confession -- he has a kind of tainted background, the fact that he was using marijuana to help gain this confession. Any concerns about who you collaborated with?

DEVRIES: Well, Patrick, indeed, has a conviction in the past, but that is already more than 12 years ago. And he is now a respected businessman. So there's no problem with that, I think.

And about the pot smoking in the car, that's the daily routine of Joran. Patrick didn't push him. Patrick didn't ask him to do that. He -- Joran just did what he wanted to do himself.

KING: Beth, do you believe this?

DEVRIES: I believe the confession, yes. I am convinced.

KING: Yes. But does -- does Beth believe it?

HOLLOWAY: Larry, I do believe the words that Joran was admitting to Patrick. I do. And I think there are a lot of things that, you know, we knew were transpiring early on and, you know, when we're hearing the condition and how he's describing her and, you know, his actions. Yes, absolutely I do, Larry. And I feel as if, for the first time, I saw the Joran that I had met that first night at the Holiday Inn. And I -- I felt like I hadn't seen him in the last two-and-a-half years. But when I saw him in the car with Patrick, I was like there he is. That's the Joran that I met that night at the Holiday Inn hotel.

KING: We'll be right back with Beth Holloway and Peter Devries on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

More to come. Don't go away.


VAN DER EEM: Did he ever tell you how he did it?

VAN DER SLOOT: Of course, he did.

VAN DER EEM: How did he do it then?



KING: I pronounced it Joran Van Der Sloot, because it's spelled S-L-O-O-T. But the correct Dutch pronunciation as Sloot, if it were S-L-O-A-T. My apologies. Let's take a look at another clip, taken some hours -- from some 20 hours of hidden camera tape. This one involves Joran talking about a boat -- a boat owning friend he says he asked to dispose of the body.


VAN DER EEM: How far do you think he took her? This guy must have done a really good job. This guy really knows what he's doing. Did he weigh her down to make her sink?

VAN DER SLOOT: I don't think so.

VAN DER EEM: You don't even know that?

VAN DER SLOOT: No. VAN DER EEM: Did he ever tell you how he did it?

VAN DER SLOOT: Of course he did.

VAN DER EEM: How did he do it then?

VAN DER SLOOT: He just went out into the sea further and he just dumped her.

VAN DER EEM: He just threw her overboard, just like that? You've been really lucky, you know? You've really been lucky.

VAN DER SLOOT: That's what I say. I've been very lucky.

VAN DER EEM: Really lucky. That he has been so stupid to do this, you know? Then you have a giant angel hanging over your head.

VAN DER SLOOT: I was even able to sleep that night. I just went home and went to bed.


KING: Hard to believe. Beth, to your knowledge, what are the Dutch authorities going to do with this bit of information?

HOLLOWAY: Well, I think what they are planning on doing is to requestion Joran, and I'm not sure when that's taking place. Peter Devries might have more information than that -- on that then me. But I believe they were either headed to Holland, where he is in school, to perhaps question him some more, and I think that they'd also maybe were able to secure some -- some of his e-mail or cell phone, computer records. So, not too clear on exactly how that's going to transpire.

KING: Peter, do you know what's going to happen?

DEVRIES: Well, Larry, I understood that Joran offered to make a statement to the police investigators today. I don't know what he has been saying there, but he made a statement, and that's a very important development, because until this day, Joran refused to talk to the police. And he didn't say a thing about his whereabouts that night on the beach.

KING: Beth, has this finally, at least -- it's such an overused term -- put closure for you?

HOLLOWAY: Well, you know, what it really does -- it does in some way, Larry, and it just gives me the answers that I need. And it just brings to light, you know, what we have, you know, felt was there in front of us all along, but we could just not grasp it. So, it does. It gives you -- it's really given me just a lot of peace and comfort in finally knowing what happened.

I think it's a daily torture for a family that has a missing loved one and the not knowing. So, I can now say, Larry, you know, even though the knowing is difficult, the not knowing, that is just sheer hell. It really is. KING: Let's take another look at another video clip, one some people believe offers a chilling insight into Joran's character.


VAN DER SLOOT: And he says, Joran, what have you done. But she looks sweet, you know.

VAN DER EED: She's just lying still?

VAN DER SLOOT: Still, still, she's not doing anything. He says, what happened? I said, I don't know either man.

VAN DER EEM: Did you try to resuscitate her?

VAN DER SLOOT: Of course, I tried everything man. I tried to shake her. I was shaking the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I was like, what's wrong with you man. I almost wanted to cry. Why does this have to happen to me? I said to him, this isn't possible.


KING: Beth, can you explain it all, rationalize to yourself, his cavalier attitude?

HOLLOWAY: Gosh, Larry, I just can't. I just can't imagine, as I said earlier, having such an utter disregard for someone's life. I don't know why, if you weren't involved in, you know, the disappearance or, you know, the possible death of someone -- as I said, we don't know if Natalee was in a coma or not when he disposed of her body, but why wouldn't you seek medical help? It seems like you would just pick her up and rush, just run to the Marriott, run somewhere, saying, please, someone help.

I can't imagine the first response would be to call somebody to dispose of her body. I feel as if he is fully aware of his wrong- doing, whether -- I mean, there was one part, I think, where he conveys to Patrick something that they will find inside of my daughter, and I think it's -- I think we all know it's -- but anyway, I can't even say it on TV, Larry -- but -- so, I know there was wrong- doing there, and he knows that he is responsible for the condition that she was in.

KING: Peter, when you challenged Joran, he got angry with you. He threw wine into your face?

DEVRIES: Yes, he threw a glass of red wine into my face, yes, in a talk show, yes.

KING: What were you accusing him of?

DEVRIES: Well, he there was on the show after the case was closed. He tried to gain some sympathy of the audience, and I was asking him questions about his whereabouts that night.

And I told the audience that there has been a lot of established lies, and that he wouldn't answer simple questions, and that he always revoked on his right to keep silence by the police. And why would an innocent man do this, I asked him, and that frustrated him very much. And at the end of the show, he threw the glass of wine into my face.

KING: Was he, in your mind, a suspect, to you, all the time?

DEVRIES: Yes, he was a suspect to me all the time because I am a crime reporter for 30 years now, and I've seen and done an awful lot of murder cases and disappearances. And, from the beginning, I had the impression this case could be solved.

I did an investigation on Aruba, one year and a half ago, and from then, I had the feeling Joran was not telling the truth and he was hiding something, and protecting, maybe, somebody else. But for me, it's quite sure that he knows exactly what happens on the beach, that he was present when Natalee die and that he got rid of the body.

KING: Will Joran van der Sloot's confession tape lead to a guilty verdict? That's the quick vote on You can head there right now and vote. We'll come back. We'll talk with a private investigator who works with Joran van der Sloot's attorney. Don't go away.


KING: Beth Holloway and Pete Devries remain with us. We are joined now in New York by Les Levine. Les is a private investigator. He works with Joran van der Sloot's U.S. attorney, Joe Tacopina (ph).

Where is Joran right now, Les?


KING: And how is he dealing with all of this?

LEVINE: Well, he's recognizing the damage that he's done to himself, that he's destroyed his credibility, that he's certainly hurt his mother and his father, and that he will have to live with this for the rest of his life, not in the least of which is, of course, he has torn down the credibility that Joe Tacopina, Rosemary Arnold and myself have been able to build for him over the last two and a half years.

Having said that, Larry, there is no truth to this confession. It plays well on television, but certainly does not stand up in a court of law. The prosecutor and the judge in Aruba are all aware of that fact. And the confession is loaded with one fabrication after another.

KING: Why would he confess to something he didn't do?

LEVINE: Because he was under stress. Because he wanted to puff himself up in front of what he perceived to be some wise guy who had offered him an opportunity to make some money in a deal that was in itself illegal. And, he told this guy exactly what this guy wanted to hear and had pumped him for it time and time again. KING: A pretty dumb thing to do.

LEVINE: Absolutely, no question about that. It was one of the more stupid acts that I have seen in my entire career.

KING: Let's take a look at another videotape clip. This one raises a nightmarish possibility about the timing of her death. Watch.


VAN DER EEM: You know, I wasn't there. I'm asking you, how were you so sure she was dead, man?

VAN DER SLOOT: I wasn't sure. But from the time it happened until the time he came, you know, she wasn't doing anymore.

VAN DER EEM: Did this Daury check if she was dead? Did he look, too?

VAN DER SLOOT: He looked and he said, yes, she's not alive anymore, dead.

VAN DER EEM: How did he do that?

VAN DER SLOOT: We were just standing over her and looked. It wasn't good.

VAN DER EEM: Of course, I understand it wasn't good. But he could have also been in a coma.


VAN DER EEM: That's possible, too, huh?

VAN DER SLOOT: That's possible.


KING: Les, what do you think of Peter Devries, who is with us now, in another studio there in New York, who set this up, in a sense?

LEVINE: I think Peter did what he had to do to get a story and didn't care about how he went about getting it. He was successful. As I said, he was successful, but it certainly doesn't hold up in a court of law.

KING: Beth, how do you react to that?

HOLLOWAY: Well, Larry, I think that a lot of people have kind of stepped into this tangled web, into Joran's web, well into this journey, and we -- we have a lot of thing that were transpiring early on in the island of Aruba, within the first 48 hours of Natalee's disappearance, and had a stunning revelation when I was watching the taped admissions of Joran to Patrick. And, when he imitates how Natalee was suffering through the seizures, well, Larry, within 48 hours of Natalee's disappearance on the island of Aruba, a lead detective, Dennis Jacobs (ph), first and only medical question he asked me was, does Natalee have a history of epilepsy or seizures. And I said, no, why would you ask that?

And he only asked me that once, and from there forward, three other detectives asked Natalee's step father probably a dozen times, Larry. Jug had to come to me six times and ask me if Natalee had a history of epilepsy or seizure. And I kept saying no, why do you keep asking us that? Why? So, it brought it full circle for us.

KING: Peter, what do you make of what Les has to say?

DEVRIES: Well, he said that Joran only told what our guy Patrick wanted to hear. But how did Joran, for heaven's sake, know what Patrick wanted to hear? Did he whisper that in his ears? Did he write a letter about it? It's nonsense, I think. And the other thing was, he told that he might try to impress Patrick -- but frankly, I don't think anyone in the world will be impressed by a story like this, because it's a horrifying story.

KING: Thank you all very much. We have not heard the last of this. And we'll continue to stay on it. When we come back, the saga of Britney Spears. It never goes away. More after this.

But first, John King stands by. John's going to host "AC 360" tonight, sitting in for Anderson. What's up, John?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Larry. Good to see you.

Coming up at the top of the hour on "360," and then there were two. Mitt Romney is out of the presidential race, leaving Mike Huckabee and front runner John McCain on the Republican side. We'll look at why Romney pulled out now and if the move will help McCain get support from those hard core conservatives that have so-far not bought in to his candidacy.

We'll also dig deeper into the story that Britney Spears is being abused by her self-proclaimed manager. There are allegations of mind control, of forced drug use, the list goes on. A strange story keeps getting stranger. All that, plus the latest on those deadly tornadoes in the south, including the story of what some are calling the miracle baby. That's "360" at the top of the hour.

L. KING: With the most capable John King at the helm. John, we'll see you at the top of the hour.

J. KING: Thanks, Larry.

L. KING: We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: We meet our panel in a moment to discuss the Britney Spears involvement. But first, we want to check in with Michael Sands, a spokesperson for Britney's manager Sam Lufti. Spears' parents accuse Lufti of drugging Britney, as well as controlling her life and her finances. Who is Sam Lufti, Michael?

MICHAEL SANDS, SPOKESMAN FOR SAM LUFTI: Sam Lufti actually happens to be a really good person. I had my concerns and my doubts about him. I was shocked when he called me yesterday, Larry, and he said to me, why don't you go do some research on me, check me out and call me back. Well, I called a couple of government agencies, and low and behold, my best friend was involved with Sam Lufti and Sam Lufti is a good person, and he may have a --

KING: He is a manager?

SANDS: I believe he is the manager, Larry, yes.

KING: What does he make of these charges made against him by Britney's parents?

SANDS: About drugging? well, he was really -- Sam has been mixing Britney's prescription medication cocktails that bipolar patients take, or bipolar people take. That's what this is about. It's about a disease called bipolar. It's not about Sam. If he drugged her, she wouldn't be out on the streets running around. This is the nature of bipolar people.

KING: How is he qualified to do the mixing of the cocktails?

SANDS: I believe that the doctors, the psycho-pharmacologists, instructed him how to give her the medication, whether crushing it up in the food, because, often, they don't want to take it.

KING: Is he still in contact with her?

SANDS: He has not contacted her at all.

KING: Thanks, Michael. We're going to call on you again. Bring us up to date on Sam. Let's meet our panel. Vanessa Grigoriadis is the contributing effort on "Rolling Stone." She wrote the Britney cover story for the current issue, a fascinating, long story. Kevin Frazier is correspondent and weekend anchor of "Entertainment Tonight." And Dr. Sam Katz is famed clinical psychologist. Vanessa, what is your over all read on this latest adventure?

VANESSA GRIGORIADIS, "ROLLING STONE": I think Britney is sick. I think she suffers from some sort of genetic mental illness. But I also think there may be some sort of drug problem in the mix. I think there's a fame problem in the mix. I think there's a narcicism problem. There's an impulse control problem. She wants to be out there on hunts with the paparazzi. She's a little bit of a menace to all of us citizens in Los Angeles.

KING: What do you make, Kevin, of what Michael just said about her manager?

KEVIN FRAZIER, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": Here's the thing, if Sam Lufti was doing a good job of managing her, then she wouldn't be in this situation. It's really time for her to be in the hospital. I think her parents, just like everyone else, were shocked when she got out of the hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

And she returned to doing what she likes to do, driving around Los Angeles with a pack of paparazzi following her. It's very, very dangerous. If you have ever run into it, it will scare you to death. The thing is, she needs real help. Enough of it, now. It's really gotten to dangerous situation.

KING: But Dr. Katz, as an adult, you are allowed to drive around Los Angeles.

DR. SAM KATZ, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: She is allowed to do what she wants to do. If she's deemed competent, which she probably was at UCLA -- they found that she had adequate judgment. She wasn't dangerous to herself and others. She can do what she wants to do. There's no medical conservatorship, as far as I know, which means that she, at this point, can take care of her own medical care, despite the fact that someone has been granted the oversee of her business affairs.

FRAZIER: But there still has be a real concern that her parents released a statement, saying that they are very disappointed that she's out of the hospital. That are opposed to the fact that she's out of the hospital. And they are worried about her life right now.

KING: I'm going to take a break and come back and give you that parents statement, and get more comments from our panel. Don't go away.


KING: Here's the statement issued yesterday by Britney's parents, Jamie and Lynne Spears, "As parents of an adult child in the throes of a mental health crisis, we were extremely disappointed this morning to learn that over the recommendation of her treating psychiatrist, our daughter Britney was released from the hospital that could best care for her and keep her safe. We're deeply concerned about our daughters safety and vulnerability. We believe her life is presently at risk. There are conservatorship orders in place and created to protect our daughter that are being blatantly disregarded. We ask only that the court's orders be enforced, so that a tragedy may be averted."

Do you fear the worst here, Vanessa?

GRIGORIADIS: I think it's certainly possible. I mean, I think the real problem with Britney is that she has a bad relationship with her parents. So, in addition to the fact they want to help her, she doesn't want to receive help from them.

KING: When you did that whole story, what shocked you the most?

GRIGORIADIS: What shocked me the most, really, is the way she's living her private life completely in public. We are just able to see almost everything that this going on with this woman. She has no real sense of embarrassment over the things that as she has done.

KING: What happened to her, Kevin? What happened to this bright, talented, young lady?

FRAZIER: No one was in control. And I think that's why her parents -- at least, the lawyers were back in court today, trying to figure out, in a closed hearing -- trying to figure out this conservatorship, to figure out how they can get her back under a doctor's care. I think it was too much, too soon, too fast. And she --

KING: You can have a conservatorship over an adult?

KATZ: You can. Yes, you can. I think what happened to her was she never made that transition from adolescence to adult life. She became a pop star. She never went through the rebellion with the parents. When she rebelled, she really rebelled, pushed everybody away. No one can control her. No one can help her. No one came to her aid.

We see this in a lot of the young celebrity stars. They don't want to take advice from anyone. We saw this with Michael Jackson. He wouldn't take advice from anyone. Wee see this with other stars now. So what we see is someone who is rebelling so much because she doesn't want to be a child again. She never made that transition.

And, so, she's lost right now. And she has to be found. As Vanessa says, she really needs help. She needs to be away from the public eye, too.

KING: Very hard to treat?

KATZ: Very hard to treat because I think it's multi-problems. I think there's a bipolar problem. I think there's a personality problem. There is the paparazzi. There's a lack of relationships. There's a lack of privacy. It's very difficult to treat, and everybody wants to exploit her also.

KING: What do you think is the caring of the public? Why do people sop up this issue of "Rolling Stone?"

GRIGORIADIS: I think Britney, when she was sold to us, she was sold as a virgin, somebody who was perfect, who was an amazing performer, who was going to be the next Madonna. And now we have seen this woman, who has completely just fallen apart to the point where, you know, she's not putting on a bra anymore in public. So, that's really become the problem, that she's the polar opposite of what she once was.

KING: Kevin, we only have 30 seconds. Is there anything to be optimistic about?

FRAZIER: If there can be control. If there can be a conservetorship put in place to get her back in the hospital, and she's in the hospital for an extended stay, get her away from the paparazzi and out of this situation, maybe she'll be OK. KING: That's an if though.

FRAZIER: That's a huge if. You hope her parents get control in this situation so they get her back in the hospital, because right now she enjoys riding around Los Angeles with a pack of paparazzi chasing her. That is a recipe for tragedy.

KING: She likes this.

FRAZIER: It's obvious she likes it. Because every day you wouldn't go driving around the city, Larry, if you knew guys were going to chase you.

KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be calling on you again. One of the biggest young stars in the country is here tomorrow. She is America Ferrara from "Ugly Betty." She's got a new role these days. She wants you, especially you younger people, to vote.

Check us out at You can e-mail upcoming guests. We've got quick votes, video clips, transcripts too. It's all at

And here's another King, John King, sitting in for Anderson Cooper on "AC 360." And John is next.