Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Cheney v. Carville; Seven Suspects Charged in Billings Murder Case

Aired July 21, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight...


JOE JACKSON, FATHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Not true. That -- that's a bunch of jive.


KING: Reaction to Joe Jackson's explosive allegations about his son Michael's death.


JACKSON: You don't take a doctor and stick him in the room there and the doctor give him something to make him rest and then he don't wake up no more. Something is wrong there.


KING: His confusion over where Michael's body is.


JACKSON: I don't know. You have to ask somebody that knows.


KING: And his defense of his parenting skills.


JACKSON: I didn't make no mistakes, Larry.


KING: Plus, Sarah Palin's new ethics problems -- how much trouble is she in now?

And Obama's health care push -- is he blowing it?

And then, new developments in the shocking killings of that Florida couple with all of those adopted kids.

Were they murders for hire?


Good evening.

A diversified show tonight. We begin with, in New Orleans, James Carville, the CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist.

And in Washington, Liz Cheney, the former deputy assistant secretary of State in the administration of President George W. Bush and the daughter of the former vice president, Dick Cheney.

Let's start with the latest concerning the soon to be former governor of Alaska.

A.P. reports, guys, that an independent investigator for the Alaska Personnel Board has found evidence that Sarah Palin may have violated ethics laws by accepting private donations to pay her legal bills.

How much trouble could this mean for her, James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Yes, probably, honestly, not a lot. I mean she's leaving office, she might get an ethics finding against her. It's clear that the Palins are strapped for money. And that's why she's leaving office. She wants to go out and make money. And she was trying to raise money to pay for some of this stuff. And from what we know, it might have been something untold about it.

But I don't think that she's in a great deal of trouble.

I mean, who cares?

She's not going to be governor any more, so let the ethics board have some finding against her and she'll go out and make a gazillion dollars writing books and going out to all these right-wing people and giving speeches and stuff.

KING: Good...

CARVILLE: I don't -- I don't view this as anything shocking or surprising.

KING: All right.

Good point, Liz?

LIZ CHENEY, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think, you know, we've seen a pretty clear pattern here, where Governor Palin's political enemies, you know, have launched attacks against her. I don't know about the -- the details of this latest ethics charge.

But I think the statistics speak for themselves. There have been, you know, 19 or 20 charges filed now. And in all of them, I think she's been cleared. You know, I think it's become sort of standard practice for people's political opponents to use this -- this kind of allegation to try to sort of get them off of the public scene and get them out of the debate.

But Governor Palin has shown herself completely unwilling to sort of be laid low by her political opponents. And I think we'll continue to hear from her. And she'll continue to be an important voice on a whole range of issues that matter to the country.

KING: James, why do you think she's...

CARVILLE: She's only resigning.

KING: ...resigning?

CARVILLE: Because she wants...

KING: Why is she resigning, do you think?

CARVILLE: Because she's tired of being governor and she wants to go out and make money. It's -- it's completely evident why she's resigning. I mean she's resigning because she's being attacked by political opponents -- God, that's the first time that's ever happened in politics. What a surprise that is.

No, she -- she's become ineffective and like -- and perfectly understandable, that she wants to go out and make money for her family. And let her go.

And as long as -- she can do anything she wants as long as she stays about a gazillion miles away from the Oval Office. I don't think anybody really cares.

KING: Now, Liz, where does she stand in your party at this point?

CHENEY: Well, I think she's, you know, a hugely effective speaker. She's an important voice on a whole range of issues. And I think every time somebody like James attacks her, she goes up in the estimation of, you know, many conservatives and, frankly, Independents in the country.

So, look, I think it's -- you know, there's a lot of sexism involved in the charges against her. There are a lot of attacks that, you know, she's been on the receiving end of because she was our vice presidential candidate last time around.

I think that she is now going to clearly not disappear from the scene. She's going to be here in the lower 48 talking about issues that matter for the country. And I think, you know, if she's interested in a run in 2012 or 2016, you know, she'll have to face the same kind of tests that sort of a whole range of really impressive candidates on the Republican side will have to face. You know, we'll have to prove to the American voters that we're the ones that have got the ideas and the substance about how to return this country back to the path that it ought to be on and away from some of the massive government spending and government programs and the weakening of our national defense that this administration's putting in place. So I think the next election is going to be about issues. It's going to be about substance. People love to talk about personalities now, but I think, at the end of the day, the American people are much more focused on...

KING: All right.

CHENEY: ...their health care and their...

CARVILLE: Well, let me...

CHENEY: ...their national security than on this.

CARVILLE: Larry, let me be very clear. No Democrat wants Sarah Palin to go anywhere. And I think the fact that Sarah Palin is in the top tier of Republican presidential candidates says a lot about the quality of leadership in that party.

So -- I mean -- so we can do anything we want. She is at the -- she is at the elite level of the modern Republican Party. And that will give you a pretty good indication of just how much trouble they're in.

CHENEY: Well, but I think that there has been, clearly, a lot of criticism of her, for example, by feminists. You know, feminists across this country -- people who call themselves feminists don't like to see a woman in politics who is pro-life; a woman in politics who says, yes, I've got to balance kids and a career -- sort of a lot of issues that people like Gloria Steinman and others have turned themselves away from. They don't like Republican strong women.

So, you know, look, I do think that there has been some sexism here.

CARVILLE: All right...

CHENEY: But I think -- you know, I think James and I would agree that substance, at the end of the day, is what matters.

KING: All right...

CHENEY: And if you look at...

KING: Let's hope...

CHENEY: If you look at the poll numbers, I'd say that, you know, the leadership in the Democratic Party right now is, frankly, having a lot more problems than the leadership in the Republican Party.

KING: Let's...

CARVILLE: Right. Again, I just...

KING: Let's switch gears a little tonight...

CARVILLE: ...emphasize, she is at the very top tier, the elite level of intellectual ability in the Republican Party.

CHENEY: And as you criticize her, James...

CARVILLE: That says a lot about the Republican Party.

CHENEY: ...her numbers are going to go up and up and up.

CARVILLE: Great. Let her go up.

KING: All right, guys. All right, let's switch gears a little.

President Obama has renewed his public push on health care reform in recent days.

A big press conference tomorrow.

Here's some of what he said earlier today in the Rose Garden.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that there are those in this town who openly declare their intention to block reforms. It's a familiar Washington script that we've seen many times before. These opponents of reform would rather score political points than offer relief to Americans who've seen premiums double and costs grow three times faster than wages. They would maintain a system that works for the insurance and the drug companies, while becoming increasingly unaffordable for families and for businesses.


KING: Let's start with Liz this time.

The Republican senator, Jim DeMint, said that if -- if Obama's health care plan fails, it'll be his Waterloo. It's going to break him.

Do you believe that, Liz?

CHENEY: You know, I think that it's clearly an important issue for President Obama. He's made it an important issue. And I think why it's so important is because it matters to the American people.

And I think the president's developing a real credibility problem on this issue. You know, one of the main reasons, during the campaign, we heard him talk about the need for reform was that he needed to cut costs. We all needed to cut costs in our health care program.

And now the Congressional Budget Office has come out and said, actually, costs are going to increase.

The other thing we heard him say throughout the campaign was that if you like your insurance, you'll be able to keep it. But now the White House staff has said the very surprising thing, which is don't take him literally on that. So I think the American people, they know that we need some kind of reform in our health care system, but they don't want the kind of reform this president...

KING: All right. Do...

CHENEY: ...and this Democratic Congress are putting forward.

KING: Would you say the thought, Liz, of -- of reform is unanimous -- everyone wants some reform?

CHENEY: Yes. I think it's clear that...


CHENEY: ...that, you know, there are some things that need to be done to fix the system. However, I think that there's absolutely no justification -- and you see the American people now growing increasingly concerned about the president's plans, the Democrats on the Hill, the plans that would really turn our system into a Canadian...


CHENEY: ...or a British system...

KING: Let me...

CHENEY: ...where you don't get to decide who your doctor is and where the government is deciding who gets what treatments. That's simply...

KING: Let me get a break...

CHENEY: ...a dangerous path to go down.

KING: Let me get a break and then we'll have James' response and we'll discuss how all this affects Obama's approval ratings.

We'll get into that right after the break.


KING: Now, James, a "USA Today"/Gallup Poll shows 50 percent now disapprove of Obama's handling of health care; 44 percent disapprove -- disapprove, 50; approve, 44.


KING: How -- how much trouble is it in?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, look, if you listen to what -- what's (INAUDIBLE) the Republicans, it's dead. I happen to think they have a very good chance at this. And I also think, if you listen to the Republicans and you listen to a lot of people in the media, that the economy is not going anywhere. I think -- I think that's not true. If -- if the president doesn't get his health care bill, if -- and, in fact, as we're constantly being told by the Republican Party, the economy is not doing better, then he's going to be in trouble.

If, however, contrary to every prediction of every talking head of every Republican, if this president is able to get a health care bill -- (INAUDIBLE) a health care bill, it's going to look pretty good.

And I think people are jumping to the conclusion that this thing is dead. I'm fine with that conclusion because, in the end, if he succeeds, this will be the most monumental achievement that people can imagine.

Look, the president was wrong. Health care costs did not double. Premiums didn't go up 100 percent under Bush, they went up 120 percent.

I'm amused by an administration that claims that a deficit didn't matter. That Reagan proved that when health care as a percent of GDP -- health care costs went up almost 25 percent in the last eight years. Sixty percent of all bankruptcies are as a result of health care costs.

So, yes, there is a sense of urgency here. There's a sense to get this done.

These statistics are unacceptable to Democrats.

KING: All right, Liz...

CARVILLE: They may be acceptable to Sarah Palin and the Republicans, but to a Democrat, these are unacceptable -- this is unacceptable. And this president is moving in that direction.

CHENEY: Well, the fundamental problem...

KING: Do you disagree with that, Liz?

CHENEY: Well, the fundamental problem with what James is arguing is that we now know, from the Congressional Budget Office, which is a completely non-partisan organization, that those costs are going to go up even more under all of the plans that are under consideration now.

And I think, at the end of the day, again, I would say I'm less interested, frankly, in whether this -- you know, the failure of this plan helps or hurts President Obama than I am in whether this plan is going to hurt the American people.

And, you know, when you've got a situation now where the president is pushing so hard to get this plan through that he himself doesn't even know what's in the bill -- he had a conference call yesterday with a bunch of liberal bloggers. This is not a hostile audience. And one of the bloggers asked him, you know, Mr. President, is it true that under H.R. 3200 -- one of the House proposals -- it will be impossible to keep your own insurance? And the president's answer was, "Well, I'm really not familiar with that."

Now, that ought to give people a lot of pause and a lot of concern. This is a president who's trying to nationalize one sixth of our economy and who's saying that we've got to do it within the next two weeks. And he doesn't even know what's in the legislation.


CHENEY: I think that there's no way to argue that's good for the American people.

CARVILLE: That -- you know, I have to kind of just chime in here.

First of all, it's not the president's piece of legislation.

The second thing is, it had just passed. And the president...

CHENEY: It's not the president's health care reform, James?

CARVILLE: Liz, can...

CHENEY: I thought you just said...

CARVILLE: Excuse me...

CHENEY: ...this was going to be like his shining success.

CARVILLE: Liz -- excuse me for speaking while you were interrupting me.

CHENEY: No, go -- go ahead.

CARVILLE: But thank you. I appreciate that.

Again, to Republican standards, a 120 percent increase in family premiums is fine. 60 percent of the people in bankruptcy is fine...

CHENEY: James, do you -- are you going to ignore...

CARVILLE: Again...

CHENEY: ...the Congressional Budget Office...

KING: No, no, no.

CARVILLE: Again...

KING: Let him finish, Liz.

CARVILLE: Again, I'm sorry.

KING: Liz, let him finish.

CARVILLE: Again, it was no Democrat that said that deficits didn't matter.

And by the way...

CHENEY: Are you going to ignore...

CARVILLE: ...this thing is not...

CHENEY: ...the Congressional Budget Office?

CARVILLE: ...again, I'm sorry...

CHENEY: James...

CARVILLE: ...Larry.

CHENEY:'ve got all kinds of great talking points around this.

CARVILLE: Again...

KING: Liz...

CARVILLE: Again...

KING:'ve got to let him finish.


KING: Go ahead.

CARVILLE: When the thing -- when legislation that is passed is scored, we will see where it is.

But what I find amazing is, is the fact that after all of this happened, that they're saying this is fine, there's no crisis in health care...

CHENEY: Nobody is saying it's fine.

CARVILLE: ...we don't need to do anything. Again -- again, we don't need to do anything.

Then, they come in and they say, wait. This is scored, when everybody knows the CBA -- CBO score was incomplete.

So let's be real candid here. The situation that Obama inherited was completely untenable. The premiums were up 120 percent for a family -- 60 percent of the people in bankruptcy. This cannot stand. This president...

KING: All right...

CARVILLE: ...this Congress, I believe, is going to surprise people and do something about this.

KING: Let me... CHENEY: Yes, but this is really -- this is a really important point, because, first of all, the amount of tax increases that we're clearly going to see -- we now have Speaker Pelosi saying it's $1 million or more. But that includes small businesses.

So you don't think people are going to go out of business because of the tax increases we're going to see to pay for these health care plans?

Secondly, we have now already seen increasing taxes across the board -- cap and trade; increasing taxes on tobacco. We're going to see taxes on everybody, in complete violation of President Obama's health -- campaign promises.

Now, it's great, James, to spew a lot of facts and figures. I mean we can go through the numbers of who actually is uninsured. But I really would like to hear you answer the question...

KING: All right. Let me get a break...

CHENEY: Why do you think...

KING: ...guys, and then we'll have him try to answer.

CHENEY: ...we're going to be better off with...

KING: All right...

CHENEY: ...a plan that the CBO says is going to increase...


CHENEY: ...all those things you say (INAUDIBLE)...


KING: Let me get a break.

CARVILLE: Liz, I don't know how to tell you this...

KING: Let me get a break.

CARVILLE: ...but I'll try to tell you...

KING: Hold it, guys. Hold it. We'll come right back. Hold it.

CARVILLE: blew it...

KING: We'll come right back.


KING: Hold it!


KING: We'll come right back with James Carville and Liz Cheney and more on health care and other things.

As we go to break, that is the continent of Asia and you are looking at a total solar eclipse. What a shot. Whoo.

We'll be right back.


KING: This solar eclipse visible from Asia and also from India. Quite a -- quite a sight. It doesn't happen very often.

Before we move to some other topics, just quickly, yes or no, James, is this bill going to pass?

CARVILLE: I think it will. I'm very confident.

KING: Liz?

CHENEY: I certainly hope not. I think it would be really, you know, damaging -- a damaging outcome for the American people.

If you think that the V.A. hospitals, that Medicare, that the British system, that the Canadian system and those systems -- the British and Canadian system, where you've got cancer patients with higher mortality rates because they can't get the treatment they need. People who think that that's a good idea and those are good systems support this bill.

KING: All right. But the question...

CARVILLE: Look, can I say...

KING: ...the only question was do you think it's going to pass?

CARVILLE: Can I say something?

Yes. I believe this is true. I think the V.A. system has the best outcomes of maybe any hospital system in the United States. And, you know, I think veterans don't really like to have their health care be decried. I think we have pretty good...

CHENEY: I think veterans deserve...

CARVILLE: ...pretty good...

CHENEY: ...the very best...

CARVILLE: I think we have a pretty good V.A...

CHENEY: care possible, James.


CHENEY: But I think that the bureaucracy...

KING: All right... CARVILLE: Liz...

CHENEY: You really believe, James...


CHENEY: ...the bureaucracy inherent in a government...

CARVILLE: Yes, I do.

CHENEY: health care...

KING: The Obama press conference...

CHENEY: ...plan is going to be...

KING: tomorrow night...

CHENEY: ...better for the American people...

KING: 8:00 Eastern.

CHENEY: ...than being able to choose their own system?

KING: We'll be back.

CARVILLE: I think that our V.A...

KING: And we'll get to other areas of discussion between Carville and Cheney. We ought to send them on the road.

We'll be right back.


KING: A couple of other things in the time we have remaining.

Governor Mark Sanford was supposed to discuss the proposed Pass I.D. Program at a media event earlier today. Instead, he had to field questions about his extramarital affair and how anyone can trust him again.



GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I made a mistake in life. I have apologized for that mistake. I've said all I'm going to say on that one and I'm moving forward. I think the people of South Carolina are ready to do the same.


KING: All right, Liz, given the GOP's efforts to brand itself as the party of family values, how does it handle things like Sanford and John Ensign? CHENEY: Look, I mean, you know, I think that we've got plenty of folks in both parties who...

KING: Yes, but we're talking about hypocrisy, Liz.

CHENEY: ...have had these kinds of problems. You know, well, yes...

KING: Not -- not...

CHENEY: ...but hypocrisy -- anybody who takes a wedding vow and then cheats on their spouse is a hypocrite. I think, you know, you can -- I can hold up John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer.

I think the American people are sick of it. They don't want to talk about it anymore. And they're sick of it whether they see it on the Democratic side or the Republican side, frankly. I don't think anybody's out there condoning the behavior.

I think that the way that Governor Sanford handled it today was right. I don't think people want to hear a lot about it. I think, you know, it -- it's an issue between him and his wife and his family and his God. And, you know, the people that voted for him and elected him want him to take care of the issues that matter to the people of South Carolina.

KING: But when you go around promoting family values, is it a question of hypocrisy, Jim?

CHENEY: It's always a question of -- oh, sorry. That was for James.

KING: Jim?

CARVILLE: Well, sure it is. But people -- what -- I agree. I don't think he ought to resign. I think Larry Craig should resign. I didn't think that -- I don't think Ensign ought to resign. I think that ought to be up to the voters.

But when you go around and have this C Street house -- and they're always moralizing and pontificating about family values and this and stuff. What they ought to do is just try the best they can to govern and -- and shut up about this other stuff. Let -- let families and churches, the schools deal with this kind of stuff.

But, you know, they all -- all want to act like they're more moral than other people, when we're all human and we ought to recognize that.

CHENEY: I think the Democrats clearly want to do that, too. I think that's what you're saying, James. I mean, I think there's nobody who's more guilty of sort of a holier than thou approach that John Edwards was. And frankly, you know, his...

CARVILLE: Well, I... CHENEY: ...indiscretions, I think, were particularly troubling, given that his wife, you know, is -- is in a situation where she's got terminal cancer.

So I think we can, you know, clearly demonstrate hypocrisy across the board. And we can agree that...

CARVILLE: I don't think John Edwards...

CHENEY: ...anybody who cheats on their spouse...

CARVILLE: ...was ever...

CHENEY: a hypocrite. And they...

CARVILLE: I don't...

CHENEY: ...ought to be focused on their job.

CARVILLE: I don't think John Edwards moralized about family values. I don't think that John Edwards was out front criticizing...

CHENEY: I think John Edwards actually moralized about my...

CARVILLE: ...the president...

CHENEY: ...own family's values, James.

CARVILLE: Well, again, I don't know...

CHENEY: So I think there's plenty of hypocrisy...

CARVILLE: I don't think...

CHENEY: to go around.

CARVILLE: I don't think that John Edwards ever moralized about this kind of thing.

CHENEY: He did.

CARVILLE: I think that...

CHENEY: James, I think that's just not right.

CARVILLE: Excuse me, Liz. I'm sorry for...

CHENEY: Sorry.

CARVILLE: I'm sorry for talking.

KING: All right...

CARVILLE: I just want to say one thing. The V.A. hospital -- all of you doctors and people in the V.A. system, I think you do an excellent job. CHENEY: They do an excellent job.

CARVILLE: And I think the statistics bear you out...

CHENEY: And I think they're really important...


KING: One other thing...


CHENEY: ...the best health care possible, James.

KING: One other thing.

CHENEY: But let's go back...

KING: One other thing.

CHENEY: the fact that Britain...

KING: The issue...

CHENEY: ...and in Canada...

KING: What -- Liz.

CHENEY: ...people don't get to choose their medicine.

KING: All right. We're...

CHENEY: They don't get to choose their doctors.

KING: We're getting repetitive, guys.

All right. The issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate is now attracting attention again.

Check out this YouTube video from a recent town hall meeting held by Republican Congressman Mike Castle.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I want to know why are you people ignoring his birth certificate?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not an American citizen. He is a citizen of Kenya. I am an American. My father fought in World War II in the greatest generation in the Pacific theater for this country. And I don't want this flag to be changed. I want my country back.



KING: That lady is ticked.

What do you make of this, James?

CARVILLE: Well, that lady is a -- a poor thing to -- that, you know, reads all of this -- this goofy stuff that you hear on one of our rival networks -- this kind of goofy stuff that you hear.

I mean how many times that -- do you have to go through it, I mean, birth announcements in the paper to the birth certificate or anything else?

But this is kind of an -- indicative of what the Republican Party is about. They've got every kind of -- you know, they've got people that -- that don't believe people landed on the moon. There's nothing I can do about that and anybody else can. I don't know, you know (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Liz, do you buy any of this?

CHENEY: I think that the Democrats have got more crazies than the Republicans do. But setting that aside, I think that -- you know, one of the reasons I think you see people so concerned about this, I think that, you know, this issue is people are uncomfortable with having, for the first time ever, I think, a president who seems so reluctant to defend the nation overseas; a president who sits through completely venomous screed by Daniel Ortega and then his only response, when the United States has been hostilely attacked, is to say, hey, you know, basically, I was only three at the time.

CARVILLE: That's so...

CHENEY: And, you know, we've seen this -- James, don't interrupt me.



CHENEY: We've seen this again and again and again, where this president seems to sort of want to...

KING: But what does...

CHENEY: ...create moral equivalence.

KING: ...that have to -- are you saying that...

CHENEY: I think it makes people...

KING: Are you saying because he's a Kenyan?

CHENEY: No, I'm not saying that. KING: Oh.

CHENEY: I'm saying that people are fundamentally uncomfortable...

KING: The question was about (INAUDIBLE).

CHENEY: ...and they're fundamentally, I think, increasingly uncomfortable with an American president who seems to be afraid to defend America.

KING: All right...

CHENEY: Who seems to be afraid to stand up for what we believe in.

KING: All right, James, do you want to answer that?

CARVILLE: Yes, I do.

CHENEY: And I think that the kind of thing that you saw...

KING: All right, let him answer, Liz.

CARVILLE: Again, you know...

CHENEY: indicative of sort of a general...

KING: James, go ahead.


CHENEY: ...feeling of discomfort.

KING: Again, Liz, let him answer.

James, go ahead.

CARVILLE: Yes, I guess we're supposed to -- a volume of words I certainly lost.


CARVILLE: But again, these people...

CHENEY: I'm quality too, James.

CARVILLE: ...again.

CHENEY: But go ahead. Sorry.

CARVILLE: You're right. I've been accused of hurling facts around.

Let me hurl a fact around. These people are poor -- these poor pathetic people are believing stuff, just like -- just like Ms. Cheney tonight. She refuses to say this is ludicrous because she actually wants to encourage these people to believe this. It's just a simple thing. This is a nutty thing. There's nothing to this. I disagree with this president's policies.

They can't say that. They can't say that because...

CHENEY: James, I am...

CARVILLE: ...they're scared they'll lose the...

CHENEY: ...I -- James, sorry...

CARVILLE: ...this sort of nut wing of their party.

CHENEY: Sorry, James.

KING: We're out of time, guys.


CARVILLE: That's their problem.

CHENEY: I am more concerned -- James, I think that there's plenty...

KING: We're going to have you back.


CHENEY: be concerned about with this president.


CHENEY: And I think that...

KING: All right...

CHENEY: ...we've got to look forward in terms of...


CHENEY: ...the things that he's doing to the country going forward...


KING: All right. Thanks, guys.

CHENEY: ...the direction he's going to take us in.

KING: James Carville and Liz Cheney.

By the way, Liz, quickly, are you going to run for office?

CHENEY: Not -- not right away. No plans right away. I've got a lot on my plate right -- right this minute, Larry. KING: Notice the emphasis on not right now.

CHENEY: But I'm going to call James as soon as I make a decision.

KING: OK. Yes, hire him.

CARVILLE: Let me know.

CHENEY: He's a vet.

CARVILLE: Lay off...


CARVILLE: Lay off the V.A. They're a good bunch over there.

KING: We have new developments in the murders of that Florida couple -- strange twists and turns, next.

We go to grape with -- we go to break, rather, with more of the incredible solar eclipse, where the moon comes between the Earth and the sun.

Look at that.


KING: We go to Pensacola, Florida.

Susan Candiotti, CNN national correspondent, is standing by; along with Sheriff David Morgan, the sheriff of Escambia County. Of course, those murders that took place July 9th. Seven suspects charged. Another charged with helping them.

What's the latest -- Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there have been a lot of developments in the last couple of days. We're seeing some of search affidavits filed in court. So we're learning what kind of evidence police say they are seizing.

But most importantly today, according to court documents, we're hearing that one of the suspects is already pointing the finger at one of the other defendants, defined as the suspected gunman here, and saying, yes, he was the sole shooter, the only one shooting the gun that shot and killed this couple, the Billings, in their bedroom.

KING: Sheriff, is that Leonard Gonzalez?

SHERIFF DAVID MORGAN, ESCAMBIA COUNTY: That's Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr. is the one that's indicated in this statement by one of the other defendants, yes, sir.

KING: How do you take that, when one says something about another? MORGAN: Well, of course, that's a piece of evidence we take into consideration, Larry. But again, I want to caution everyone that there's more to this than just a witness statement. We've yet to get the ballistics back from the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms folks on the testing of all of the weapons that have been seized and taken into evidence.

We have yet to get the pathologist report to match up the calibers of the weapons. So until we match up the physical evidence with the testamentary evidence we cannot arrive at a conclusion as to whether there was one shooter or five shooters. So the jury, if you will, is still out on that evidence.

Right now, we have that one piece that has been released to the public. That's only what we can go off of.

KING: Susan, a veteran journalist, what's the big question to you in all of this?

CANDIOTTI: Well, you really want to find out whether, indeed, robbery was the only motive here. What were they going after? It doesn't seem like, from what we know so far, that the suspects in this case recovered and got away with very much. According to what the sheriff has said before, we've only known about a safe that only had some heirloom jewelry, some personal papers. So what else is out there? What else could be behind this?

KING: Yes. All right, sheriff, are we any closer to nailing a new motive? Making any additional arrests? What can you tell us in that area?

MORGAN: Yes, sir, the investigation continues. We think we're very close to making at least one more arrest. But, Larry, if I can, let me refine and define this motive that everybody seems to be wrapping themselves around the axle on. I find that very interesting and that's the things that books and movie scripts are made of.

Let me give you my law enforcement perspective on motive. I do not care what the motive is. My job and responsibility as the sheriff of Escambia County is to identify those people who were involved in this crime, that committed this horrible crime upon citizens in my county, and to bring them into justice.

You know, it's nice talk show fodder to discuss whether or not they were breast-fed or they had enough Twinkies when they were growing up. I do not care.

KING: All right. Aren't you puzzled about why someone does something to someone? Isn't that part of the --

MORGAN: I am -- I am, sir. And I leave that to the psychologists and the sociologist and the criminologists that will follow far behind us. And I find it greatly interesting. And it's something that we can discuss. But again, from a strictly law enforcement perspective, that does not come on my scope.

KING: All right, sheriff. From a law enforcement perspective, is this a mind-boggling case? Or is it a Colombo?

MORGAN: It -- well, it's a Colombo from the perspective, Larry, that we're going to solve this thing. And my intent -- and I will complete this task -- is to bring all of those that have been associated with this case to justice. Anybody that helped in any way or is culpable in any way in the commission of this crime, I intend to see that they're brought before the bar of justice.

So is it a mind-boggling crime? You bet. Just because of the numbers of people that have been involved in this. And again, I've made comparisons to the Clutter family murder in Kansas, and I've also made reference to those murders that occurred in California, with the Tate-LaBianca murders.

We have more involved in this case than they had in either one of those two. So yes, it is mind-boggling from that perspective.

KING: One other thing, sheriff. How close do you think we are to a wrap-up?

MORGAN: We have -- again, we have three persons of interest that we're still interviewing. And sadly what comes out of these interviews, Larry, is many times more people, not necessarily persons of interest. But we believe we have one more solid arrest to make and quite possibly a second. But at this time, we're focusing on the one. The one may be one of those that, while we know that they had an involvement with this case, it may not be enough to bring charges. But that, again, is not my concern. That's the concern of the state attorney.

KING: Thank you. Always good talking to you. Susan Candiotti and Sheriff David Morgan. When we come back, a legendary man, a man who has completed the circle in American music, Willie Nelson. Don't go away.


KING: It's time for Impact Your World. Hard to believe it, it was more than two decades ago that Willie Nelson took action when American farms were going under. The first Farm Aid concert took place in 1985. And every year since then, Willie has done his part to help those who feed us all.

Willie joins us now by phone from his tour bus to tell us about this year's Farm Aid event in Missouri. Who's performing, Willie?

WILLIE NELSON, COUNTRY MUSIC STAR: Well, we've got the regulars on there, me and John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, and also Blackwood Brothers Quartet is going to be there. So we're looking forward to a big show.

We're having it this year October the 4th. It'll be at the Verizon Center there in St. Louis. So at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Marilyn Heights, Missouri. Tickets will go on sale on the 25th of July.

KING: Always a great event. How did this start?

NELSON: Well, I wasn't really aware that the farmers were having a problem. But back in -- oh, it must have been '85, I guess, big Jim Thompson was the governor of Illinois. So he and I were having -- every year at the fair, he and I would -- it was kind of like a ritual -- we would have a bottle of beer, a bowl of chili and talk about things. This year he said the farmers were having a problem. I said, well, what can we do.

That's when we started planning the first Farm Aid. And 21 days later, we had the first one in Champagne, Illinois.

KING: Is it a kind of shame that we still have to do it?

NELSON: Oh, absolutely. I thought one would be all that would be necessary, and then we would get a good farm bill. We'd figure out a way to keep small family farmers on the farm. And then I started seeing trends where there was a big push on the other way to make it more -- big corporation conglomerate farmers and a big push to take the small family farmers off the land.

Back when we were in World War Ii, when we were the strongest, we had what we call a 100 percent parity for all our raw producers. We guaranteed all production and labor costs. That was when we were the strongest.

So I think we need to consider things like that again.

KING: Do you know in this economy how hard it's hit the farmer?

NELSON: Oh, he was the first one hit. You know, the bottom rung on the economic ladder is agriculture. And that bottom rung went out a long time ago, ever since we've been having Farm Aid. In fact, it went out a long time before we started having our first Farm Aids.

We used to have eight million small family farmers on the land. Now we're counting less than two million, losing three to four million every week. So that trend has to stop.

KING: All right, October 4th, it's in St. Louis. How do people get tickets?

NELSON: Let me see now. I think you can do Farm Aid on the Internet and you can get tickets there.

KING: OK. That's a simple way to do it. We look forward to it, Willie. And as always, CNN will be there watching it. Thanks, Willie.

NELSON: Thank you, good talking to you, Larry. Bye-bye.

KING: Keep on keeping on, the great -- no other word to describe him -- the great Willie Nelson. Farm Aid October 4th, St. Louis.

By the way, you can go to or for more on Willie and Farm Aid and how you can help. And we'll be back in 60 seconds with reaction to our interview last night with Mr. Jackson. Stick around.


KING: Very shortly after Michael Jackson's death, his father Joe started raising questions about the possibility of foul play. He repeated that theme last night when he appeared on this show. Watch.


JOE JACKSON, FATHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: You don't take a doctor and stick him in the room there, and then the doctor give him something to make him rest, and then he don't wake up no more. Something is wrong there. The doctor -- the doctor -- the doctor just somehow -- I understand that he left and went to sleep or something. I don't know what happened. But he tried to bring Michael --

KING: Are you implying, then, that the doctor committed foul play?

JACKSON: Something went wrong. Something went wrong, Larry, because when they tried to bring Michael back, he was dead. Something went wrong.


KING: Joe also pointed a finger of suspicion at Michael's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. We asked Dr. Murray to respond to Joe Jackson's comments. His spokesman has issued this statement: "we are not going to respond to any statements made by the Jackson family or anyone else at this time. Dr. Murray continues to cooperate with Los Angeles investigators in their efforts to determine the cause of Michael Jackson's death."

Our Hollywood insiders are next with their takes on Joe Jackson and last night. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now here in Los Angeles, Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition," an attorney, and a frequent host of this program. And in New York, Roger Friedman, senior correspondent for the "Hollywood Reporter." He blogs at What did you make of last night, Jim?

JIM MORET, "INSIDE EDITION": We've been talking about it all day. It was a strange interview. It seems as if he wanted to rehabilitate himself. He said a lot of strange things in the past. And I came away feeling that he fell flat. I really do. I didn't understand what he was trying to say. Whatever it was, it didn't seem to be working.

KING: I felt frustrated. I guess you could tell.

MORET: I could see that. You said it many times, you're his father. Why haven't you seen his body? Why didn't you know about the autopsy report? You didn't even hear about his death until a fan told you? Those are strange things.

KING: Roger, what was your read?

ROGER FRIEDMAN, "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Larry, I thought you were very deft. You did a great job with him. You just let the two of those guys just talk and talk and talk until they talked themselves into a hole. That guy Leonard Rowe, the idea that he could be Michael Jackson's financial adviser for two minutes -- if you knew the list of things that he's had wrong legally, including at least two incarcerations, past bad checks -- I mean, he has quite a history in the concert promotion business. And, of course, he's just the kind of guy that Joe Jackson would be aligned with.

And then Joe Jackson just lying, lying, lying about everything. And how he can sit there and say he never beat Michael. He had a press conference for about six journalists about eight years ago where we asked him about disciplining his children, and the way he described it was I beat their backs. I mean, that's how he talks, and that's how he treated those kids.

I mean, this is a guy who has no self-awareness at all and seems to have no idea of what his position is in his own family.

KING: During our interview last night, Joe insisted that he made no mistakes in raising Michael. Here's what he said when I asked him about those allegations of abuse.


KING: Didn't he once say that you physically and emotionally abusive to him?

JACKSON: I have never been abusive to him. Never have.

KING: Did he say that? Did he ever say that to your knowledge?

JACKSON: I don't know whether he said that or not. The media keeps hollering about abuse. I never abused my son.


KING: Jim?

MORET: It is not the media that's accusing him. Michael Jackson said to '93 to Oprah Winfrey in a huge interview, and again ten years later, in another huge interview, my father beat me. He abused me. This has been out there in the public. Michael Jackson isn't here anymore to refute Joe Jackson's claims. It has been out there in the public. Joe Jackson had his opportunity to refute it. He didn't.

KING: Roger, wasn't the age, though -- he's 80 years old -- of spare the rod and spoil the child?

FRIEDMAN: Not exactly. I have people who worked for the Jacksons in the '70s, who talk about how when the kids were rehearsing for the Jackson 5, if Joe didn't like what Michael was doing, and Michael was his star, he would lock him in a dark closet until he was ready to take him out. Not only he harassed, he tortured this kid.

You wonder why Michael Jackson says he couldn't sleep. If he did die of Diprivan or something where he couldn't sleep and needed extreme medicines to make him sleep, this is why; he had nightmares about Joseph Jackson. This is why Joseph Jackson is not in Michael's will. That should tell us everything right there.

KING: I also asked him about Michael's three kids and whether he would encourage them to go into show business. Watch.


JACKSON: I'm not encouraging them to do nothing. Nothing of the sort. They have to be what they are, kids at the moment, yes, and be raised properly.

KING: So the rumors that you wanted to tour the Jackson Three --

JACKSON: Not true. That is a bunch of jive. I wish I could say what I should say. That is a bunch of bull. That's a bunch of bull.


MORET: You were very polite with him. He said it himself. He said boy that Blanket sure can dance. I know Paris wants to do something. I think somebody talked to him. I think they said, look, you are hurting our ability to have Katherine as the guardian of these kids, because someone, possibly Debbie Rowe, is concerned you are going to insinuate yourself into their lives and do them what Michael Jackson said he did to Michael.

KING: When we come back, we'll ask Roger about the other fellow who was on the show, Leonard Rowe. Don't go away.


KING: Leonard Rowe, a former business associate of Michael's, also appeared on last night's show, highly critical of AEG Live, the promoter for Michael's This is It concerts. Here is some of what he said.


LEONARD ROWE, FMR. BUSINESS ASSOCIATE OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Michael was being controlled. I was not on AEG payroll. I was not one of their people. They did not want me around Michael Jackson. Nor did they want anyone around Michael Jackson that they did not control. Because if they could keep people from around Michael Jackson, that was trying to look out for his well being, and people that actually cared about Michael, they could reach their goal of stripping Michael. That's what I truly feel -- felt.


KING: Roger, what do you make of that? FRIEDMAN: All right, these two guys, they're the only ones that anyone was trying to keep away from Michael Jackson. They're the only two that were kept away. Leonard Rowe and Joseph Jackson actually called me on March 18th -- I just looked it up on my cell phone bill. They called me to say, right after the AEG Concerts were announced, that they wanted to get involved and take over the concerts.

Joe Jackson said to me, I have to get in there and fix this, because it is no good. Why was it no good? Because he and Leonard Rowe were not getting a cut of it. Last year, Leonard Rowe was sued successfully by R-Kelly, the singer, for 3.4 million dollars for setting up a fraudulent concert tour.

He also had to paid Nio, another R&B singer, 700,000 dollars. The guy has an awful reputation. He's not even a concert promoter. He's just a bad guy.

KING: By the way, at our request, AEG sent us a statement addressing a number of assertions made by Joe Jackson and Leonard Rowe. AEG says Michael wanted nothing to do with Rowe and dismissed him. AEG also says Rowe apparently misunderstands the facts with regards to decisions about the This Is It concert. AEG says "Michael Jackson was very much involved in not only selecting and hiring the individuals on his management, business and medical teams, but also with the creation of the concerts, the scheduling of the performance and rehearsals, development of the merchandise, and other related facets of the show. He determined ultimately who his advisors were, as well as all of the creative content of the concerts."

Pretty strong.

MORET: One other point you have to make. Leonard Rowe said Michael agreed to ten concerts and then they made it 50. That's not true at all. They agreed to 31 concerts. They rolled out the first ten. They saw that the response was amazing. They went back to Michael Jackson. They agreed to add 19, brining it up to 50.

Michael Jackson was a very shrewd businessman. I think to suggest that he didn't know he was obligated to do 50 concerts -- and they spaced it out over nine months at his request.

KING: Roger, you were going to say?

FRIEDMAN: I was just going to say about that statement -- I just had this today on Sony Pictures is going to release a movie -- I'm giving a good plug. Sony is going to release a movie. They paid 60 million dollars for the rehearsal footage that went on. AEG had 100 hours of rehearsal footage. This movie is going to come out on October 30th. And it is going to show Michael very involved in all aspects of the show, not just doing a Moon Walk.

MORET: Roger, I think that deal still has to be approved by the probate judge, which has all these days. But I think John Branca is the one who negotiated that, right?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. The Jackson estate, not the family, the estate gets 90 percent and AEG gets 10 percent. The film is going to show that Michael was completely in charge of his own faculties.

KING: What keeps the legs going in this story?

MORET: There are so many branches.

KING: The star is gone.

MORET: No, that is not true. There is more music coming out. We are going to hear music from Michael Jackson for years. We're going to see footage. There is one estimate that that movie could make 350 million dollars at the box office. People are fascinated by Michael Jackson. He has now been humanized with that horrible footage that we saw of him on fire.

We see a different side to this man. Now people are looking at his art. And they're looking at this bizarre soap opera around his life.

KING: Do you think people feel sorry for him based on how his father performs, Roger?

FRIEDMAN: Based on how his father performs.

KING: Looking at his dad and the way he handled himself, do you feel sorry for Michael?

FRIEDMAN: I think people feel sorry for Michael and maybe for all the kids. I think they are starting to understand what Michael and La Toya and some of the other kids have said over the years about what was going on in that house. It always seemed unreal, but now it is very real.

KING: Jim, they are going to make a lot of money, though, now, right? They'll make more money now than when he was alive.

MORET: The sad truth is that there is no one spending the money that he was spending. So it is all income. It is sad, but it is riveting. You're riveted. Every night, you say no more and then you are here.

KING: I'm here. I fight it, but I lose. Thanks, Roger. Roger Friedman, senior correspondent for the "Hollywood Reporter," and Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition." Jim is also an attorney.

Don't forget Barack Obama's big press conference tomorrow night. It may be the most important one since he's taken office. It will deal, of course, with the health issue. That's tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN. Right now on CNN, John King and "AC 360." John?