Transcript: Barr and Flynt on CNN's Larry King Live
Barr denies charges of perjury, condemns Flynt for false accusations
Aired January 12, 1999 - 9:00 p.m. ET
January 13, 1999
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, arguments are prepared on both sides for the impeachment trial of President Clinton. But the fallout from a related story makes headlines; the latest on the impeachment trial; and new allegation leveled by "Hustler" magazine publisher Larry Flynt. In Washington we'll meet Republican Representative Bob Barr of Georgia, the subject of Flynt's charges; and then Flynt himself will join us from Los Angeles. Then a great panel including "Washington Post" media writer Howard Kurtz; former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers; in New York, CNN's senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield; in Boston, defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has written a new book entitled "Sexual McCarthyism"; and in Washington, the former federal prosecutor, Barbara Olson. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with Congressman Bob Barr. All the legalistics aside, what was your personal reaction to see that last night, hear about it and know that you have been pilloried?
REP. BOB BARR (R-GA), IMPEACHMENT TRIAL MANAGER: Well, it -- we knew it was coming for a long time, so it wasn't as if, hey, man, there's a bolt out of the blue, so we were prepared for it.
KING: But still...
BARR: My first thought was for my sons. I mean, they're still living with my ex-wife and that's what bothers me.
KING: Did you talk to her today?
BARR: I talked with them.
KING: What did they say? How old were they?
BARR: Eighteen, 17.
KING: How are they handling it?
BARR: I mean, fine. You know how teenage boys are -- it's hard to really figure out what's inside their head.
KING: Were you surprised your ex-wife did this?
BARR: I can't say I was really surprised.
KING: Because you're friendly, right, or I suppose?
BARR: Well, we have -- have always tried to -- and have succeeded pretty much in keeping the boys, you know, aside from whatever disagreements we might have, keeping the boys separate. And you know, hopefully we'll be able to continue doing that.
KING: Let's discuss one of the things she said in her deposition. She said that you -- you didn't say you were having an affair with someone else, but you didn't answer the question. Is that correct? You didn't answer the question.
BARR: Under Georgia law that's the procedure. I mean, when you go into a deposition in Georgia, the same as when Bill Clinton goes into a deposition, he has three choices. He can just tell the truth. He can afford himself of whatever privilege there might be that he wants to assert under the law, the federal law in his case, or he can lie.
One of the differences between the two of us is he chose the last one, very similar to another case you might remember about 10 years ago -- I led the prosecution of a Republican member of Congress for doing precisely what Bill Clinton did and that is lie to a grand jury.
KING: Who was that? I remember that.
BARR: Pat Swindle (ph).
KING: He went to jail, didn't he?
BARR: He did time in federal prison.
KING: The difference that in two questions, obviously, occur -- why didn't you tell the truth? Why didn't you answer?
BARR: Everything that we have said, Larry, on this is -- was in our statement. It's well-documented. It's no great surprise that all of this came out today. It was, I think, very well-orchestrated.
It's no coincidence that this came out. This is very clearly an effort to take old documents, old matters, 12 years old, and try and derail to some extent or divert attention to some extent from the trial in the Senate beginning Thursday of William Jefferson Clinton for perjury and obstruction.
KING: Is it unfair, though, if the person making the charge believes that you committed perjury and therefore how could you judge a perjurer as a perjurer?
BARR: Larry Flynt doesn't have anything nor should he have anything to do with the trial of William Jefferson Clinton, although it's interesting that they have a circle of friends that overlap rather substantially, apparently. And even when Mr. Flynt was leveling these charges last evening, he could not, would not, and did not make a flat-out statement that there was no communication no, discussions, no interfacing between his investigators and people at the White House, and I think that tells us something. KING: We'll ask him that in a couple of minutes. Had Clinton, then, done the same as you and taken the privilege would you have not been for his impeachment?
BARR: The only way you can either convict in a criminal sense or impeach for perjury is if somebody lies under oath.
KING: So you wouldn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) impeach him on other grounds, but not perjury had he taken the Fifth?
BARR: No. I mean, if you lie under oath or if you take other steps to impede the work of the grand jury that's the offense itself, not refusing to answer, but misleading or lying to the grand jury.
KING: And what is the story on the abortion question?
BARR: That -- that is something that I will not go into beyond what I have said in our statement today, Larry. It's unfortunate that people go into these thing, but I will not other than to say I have never, ever encouraged or forced anybody to get an abortion. I would never do that.
KING: How about the printing of a check, though, your signature for the abortion?
BARR: Well, here again...
KING: I mean, that seems prima facie as they might say in legal terms.
BARR: Some people may go into these things -- when you're married to somebody, Larry, you have joint accounts. You have insurance plans and so forth. But I have never encouraged, condoned or forced somebody to have an abortion. Those sorts of things should play no role in any sort of dialogue in any of the substantive matters we're involved in. It has not the remotest connection to the perjury and obstruction by William Jefferson Clinton.
KING: Earlier on "CROSSFIRE" -- while this can't be proven -- you hinted at a belief that this is some sort of involvement between the White House and Mr. Flynt and Mr. Carville and the like -- in other words that's a belief of yours, nonprovable, but a belief, right?
BARR: Well, I think one would really have to be terribly naive to believe that there is not an overall joint scheme here. It might not be the sort of thing where Larry Flynt calls up Bill Clinton. I don't think that happens.
But where you have James Carville going out there saying, I am going to declare war on Ken Starr, I am going to declare war on Bob Barr, they're condoning -- they're encouraging by their words and their deeds what Larry Flynt has now stepped into the breach to do.
KING: Two other things -- how about the statement that all's fair? I mean, if you go to the hunt, if you can't get -- stay out of the kitchen if you can't take the heat.
BARR: I am in the kitchen. I intend to fulfill my responsibility as one of the managers, the prosecutors for the House impeachment team. The trial begins Thursday. That's my constitutional responsibility. That's my moral responsibility, and I intend to fulfill that.
KING: Do you now think all candidates for all offices will be asked about sex?
BARR: Well, hopefully not because it's irrelevant. That is not what we're talking about here.
Now, it is appropriate to ask every candidate about perjury, about obstruction of justice, about violating those laws of our land and about violating their oath of office. That is legitimate. And every candidate and every incumbent ought to be asked about that.
KING: And depositions they have made in divorce cases?
BARR: If there is ever any evidence that somebody who is either running for office or who is a member of Congress or in some other office has committed perjury, whether it's in a deposition or in Bill Clinton's case before a grand jury -- absolutely that's relevant.
KING: You're one of the prosecutors. When is your turn?
BARR: Probably Friday, Larry. We'll be going probably Thursday through Saturday this week in the presentation of our case.
KING: Thanks very much, Bob.
BARR: Always a pleasure.
KING: Thanks for coming other. Congressman Bob Barr. We'll meet the aforementioned Mr. Flynt after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Joe, Larry Flynt says he's a supporter of the president and he wants to help the president. Are these revelations helping the president's case at all?
JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Absolutely not. I think the president has been very clear from before he even came to Washington -- I think on one of the Sunday shows last week they played a clip from '92 of the president railing against the politics of personal destruction. The president has been very clear the whole time he has been here that there's no place in this town for this kind of politics and it ought to come to an end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're now joined by Larry Flynt of Flynt Publications. He joins us from our studios in Los Angeles.
Are you enjoying this, Larry? There are some people who enjoy doing things like you've been doing. Are you enjoying it?
FLYNT: No, not particularly. Larry, my motivation for this from the very beginning was to try to expose the hypocrisy that existed in the country, because 70 percent of the people didn't want the president impeached, but nobody was standing up to be counted on the issue, and nobody was doing anything. And if I can, in some small way, you know, make a contribution by exposing some of those hypocrites, I'm happy to do it.
KING: And Bob Barr being one of those hypocrites according to you?
FLYNT: Yes, and Bob Barr has put an amazing spin on a report that has come out on him. Now your network has a full report of my investigation.
KING: What was his spin? What did he say tonight what was a spin?
FLYNT: Well, first of all, he said -- you know, he said he didn't lie under oath. He said that when he invoked the...
FLYNT: ... Georgia privilege, which is equivalent to the Fifth Amendment, that that really didn't have any consequences. But the law in Georgia says that if you do that, the court or the jury can draw an adverse inference. So if they were asking him if he was -- had been involve in an affair and he invoked this privilege, it could be interpreted that it was true.
KING: But it doesn't mean he lied, if you -- because the privilege is all of our rights. We all have those.
FLYNT: Yes. But remember how he used to rant and rave about Clinton taking privileges, you know, and you find out he's doing the same thing. And I find the abortion issue even more egregious than I do the lying, because he stood on the House of Congress and said that abortion was equivalent lent to murder. And here he lies...
KING: But he says he never supported it. He never endorsed it. He had a joint checking account. He wrote the check for it because they both had a checking account, but he never said, "Have an abortion."
FLYNT: You should read her affidavit now. I mean, who are we going to believe? This big supercongressman or this little old lady that's...
KING: Yes, but you paid her...
FLYNT: ... living very meagerly down in the state of Georgia? I mean, why isn't her deposition worth anything?
KING: Do you think it's at all tainted by the fact that she was paid?
FLYNT: No, I do not, and if you ever met the woman, if you ever talked to her, you would realize -- and she said that she doesn't want to hurt her two boys, that she did not want to hurt Bob Barr as well.
KING: What do you make, Larry, of what Bob Barr said tonight of a connection between you and Mr. Carville, and -- not directly you to Clinton, but if it smells like smoke, there's a fire?
FLYNT: The only way they can connect me to Clinton is I voted for him twice...
KING: How about Carville?
FLYNT: ... in '92 and '94.
FLYNT: Well, James and I were friends obviously; we made the movie "The People Versus Larry Flynt" together. But I've never discussed what I'm doing here with James in any manner. And at the press conference that was held yesterday, one of the reasons why I hesitated when I was asked about our investigators -- did they have any contacts in the White House? You know, quite frankly, I do not know the answer to that question, so I did not answer it for that specific reason.
KING: In other words they might have worked for the White House?
FLYNT: But I called them today, and they said they were not working with anyone in the White House.
KING: All right. So you spoke to the detectives today who worked on this and other matters for you, and they did not work for the White House.
KING: OK, speaking of other matters, are we going to be hearing more new names coming around?
FLYNT: There's another shoe or two to drop. I'm just really teed off that I think Barr's going to get away...
KING: Well, what do you want to happen to him?
FLYNT: ... when he doesn't deserve to. Well, I want him to own up to it -- the same thing he said the president should do.
KING: Do you think that Bob Livingston did the right thing?
FLYNT: No, I don't think he should have resigned. I mean, having an affair is no reason that someone should resign.
KING: Why didn't you -- by the way, why didn't you ever print that? It never -- you broke it but never printed it.
FLYNT: Well, Bonnie Livingston, his wife, called me on the phone, and told me about the pain and suffering that the family had had to endure, and she had no animosity toward the women, but she would appreciate it if the details of the investigations were not reported. So I figured, you know, what the heck? The guy's resigned, you know, what's the point? So we didn't do it.
KING: Do you think -- a couple of other things, Larry -- do you think it'd look funny -- I know you've got a bad cold and I appreciate you being here -- do you think it looked funny you went on the "Geraldo" show, which is a show that is a pro-Clinton show -- that it looked kind of funny to go on an advocacy program rather than, say, one of the Sunday mornings or "20/20" as you're doing tomorrow?
FLYNT: Well, I had talked to Geraldo a month ago, and he had asked, you know, for an exclusive. We decided to bring somebody out. But after the way I was treated on "Geraldo" last night, I can't see that happening again.
KING: You thought you were treated poorly?
FLYNT: Yes, I didn't feel I was given an opportunity to make my case. My information is important.
KING: On these more that are coming, can you give me a timeframe, about when?
FLYNT: Larry, I have eight active investigations going on, and if they materialize, the Republican Party is going to be in shambles...
KING: By the way, if I had...
FLYNT: ... because they're all right-wing conservatives.
FLYNT: All right-wing conservatives. Supposing I had information on Clinton that I could have responded to your ad. Would you have researched Clinton too?
FLYNT: Not interested.
KING: Thanks, Larry.
FLYNT: I'm more partisan than any of them.
KING: I can tell. Thanks, Larry. Larry Flynt of Flynt Publications.
When we come back -- Howie Kurtz, Dee Dee Myers, Jeff Greenfield, Alan Dershowitz, Barbara Olson -- we'll get their take on all of this. Don't go away.
KING: A reminder -- Madonna Monday night for the full hour; first time ever live taking phone calls. And welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE for tonight.
We now have our panel to discuss the impeachment trial of President Clinton and the latest allegations leveled by "Hustler" publisher Larry Flynt. Our guests are in Washington Howard Kurtz, media writer of the "Washington Post" and analyst and host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." In Los Angeles, the former White House press secretary, now contributing editor at "Vanity Fair," Dee Dee Myers; in New York, CNN's senior analyst Jeff Greenfield; in Boston, defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, author of a timely book, "Sexual McCarthyism"; and in Washington, former federal prosecutor Barbara Olson.
What's your take -- I know you wrote about it today -- on this Flynt-Barr thing, Howie?
HOWARD KURTZ, "WASHINGTON POST": It's an extraordinary spectacle, Larry, for all the world of politics and journalism to be riveted on Larry Flynt, America's pornographer going on TV making these kinds of charges. Obviously he's free to say whatever he wants, but as you noted he is paying for this.
It's important for journalists, I think -- CNN and other networks didn't carry it live -- to check out what he says rather than just throwing this stuff in the air. I think there's a big public backlash brewing against all of us who seem to be stirring this cauldron of sexual allegations, and that includes us, the press.
KING: Dee Dee, is it a story?
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think Howie had it right -- it's a spectacle.
KING: Spectacles can be stories.
MYERS: Not all stories are spectacles.
MYERS: Not all spectacles are stories. It's a spectacle. I'm sorry that it is a story. I think a lot of people predicted months ago this is where it would lead to sort of the reporting on and becoming relevant of people's personal private lives and backgrounds. And I think, you know, it's not going to be under the banner of sex. It's going to be under the banner of hypocrisy. I think it's inevitable.
I think it's a sorry road we have gone down, and I think the country already regrets it, and people in public life are going to regret it more and more as time goes by. This is the door that Ken Starr opened.
KING: Jeff Greenfield -- Barbara is laughing. We'll get to why she is laughing in a minute. But Jeff Greenfield is this a spectacle that's also a story?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN ANALYST: Yes, and I think it's because the whole cultural terrain has changed so radically. I was reading a history of the press today. In 1954, I think it was, a photo editor of The New York Times submitted a photo of Marilyn Monroe kissing her new husband in an open-mouthed kiss and the publisher of "The Times" was so offended that picture would even be submitted that he ordered the photo editor dismissed.
Now you have Jay Leno on broadcast television making joke after joke after joke about what turns out to be a completely bogus story of the president fathering an illegitimate child. In that kind of an arena, added to the fact that people are looking to score points off whoever is on the other side, to demonize the opposition in this story -- whether it should be a story, that's for journalism seminars. But it is one -- yes.
KING: Barbara Olson, why were you laughing when Dee Dee was speaking?
BARBARA OLSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Dee Dee was repeating what Larry Flynt had said about hypocrisy and from what I heard...
KING: What is hypocrisy?
OLSON: From what I heard, Representative Barr didn't lie under oath.
KING: Took the Fifth.
OLSON: President Clinton did lie under oath. And Ken Starr opened the door to this? What did President Clinton -- it's as if he walks away and has nothing to do...
KING: No, what I am saying isn't hypocrisy -- for example, wasn't Livingston a fair story, to break that story? He was going to be one of the judges of a person that he was doing -- adultery is lying. Isn't not lying...
OLSON: It is lying, but understand what they were doing wasn't lying under oath. Bill Clinton can lie...
KING: You can lie to your wife, but not under oath.
OLSON: It's not something that's a public wrong. It's not something we're looking at.
MYERS: Larry, let me clarify...
KING: But you can't see hypocrisy if Livingston would have raised his hand and voted impeach? You don't see any hypocrisy in that?
OSLON: He would have voted to impeach him for perjury and obstruction of justice, not for adultery.
KING: But not for sex. Before Dee Dee responds let's go down and get Dershowitz's thoughts. Is this sexual McCarthyism on both sides, Alan?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think it is. I predicted in "Sexual McCarthyism" that the implication of the Starr report was going to be letting the genie out of the bottle. Now there's one important difference -- sexual McCarthyism really evolves when the government starts investigating the private lives of public figures the way J. Edgar Hoover, for example, tape recorded Martin Luther King, then sent a copy of that tape to Martin Luther King's wife.
There is a difference when freedom of the press and freedom in the press involves people like Larry Flynt as much as it does The New York Times as much as we may hate to admit that. So there is a difference between governmental use of the power of the grand jury, the power of subpoena, the power of investigators to look into the private sex lives of public figures and the First Amendment free press use of it.
It's bad journalism -- I wish it didn't happen. It is sexual McCarthyism, but the distinction I made has to be kept in mind.
KING: Got to get a break, and we'll let Dee Dee respond, then we'll go round robin. The guests are with us the rest of the way.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Now we'll have Dee Dee respond to what Barbara said.
MYERS: Yes. I think Barbara just misunderstood, perhaps, something that I said. I don't think that hypocrisy is necessarily a fair standard. I think it was just predictable that that's what we get to.
You know, the press -- and perhaps Jeff or Howie may want to comment on this -- the press is never going to go out and say somebody's private sexual behavior is an issue. What they're going to say is -- they ask candidate x, who's running for the presidency, whether or not he's been faithful to his wife, and he says, "Yes, I have." And then they find a story that, perhaps, contradicts that. The story isn't that he had sex with somebody other than his wife; the story is that he's a hypocrite. It becomes the banner under which all the stuff can legitimately be reported.
I think that's totally regrettable. I think we're going -- we already regret going down this path. I don't see how we get off of it.
KING: Now Jeff, would you agree that hypocrisy, in and of itself is a story, no matter who does it, in what circumstances on the part of a public figure?
GREENFIELD: Well, it's what we claim it is, but I -- and I think the point is that we say it's about hypocrisy, or judgment, or anything, but I think the truth of the matter is a lot of times it is about sex.
In fact, once I asked the -- I sort of called The New York Times editor, who was doing a story about Woody and Mia, and said, "So, what's the story about?" He said, "It's about very famous people having sex under strange circumstances."
GREENFIELD: That was the most honest comment that I have ever heard. And I think anybody who's been in this knows that.
I mean, we will find a reason to cloak this story in some higher level, and sometimes it is, but the sex part, I think, is what gets people's attention in the first place.
KING: Is it different, Howard, if Larry Flynt paid for the story? If the story is true, what's the difference?
KURTZ: The difference is it is harder for journalists to nail down the fact that the story is true. There's also the question whether the story is relevant.
KING: Gennifer Flowers was a paid-for story that turned out to be true (INAUDIBLE) the president.
KURTZ: That is exactly correct.
KING: Well, did "The Star" do good journalism in paying her?
KURTZ: I am never going to sit here and say that paying women to come out and talk about their affairs that they had with politicians is what I would call good journalism. It is a way of getting information out into the public.
What if the affair is 20 years ago? Thirty years ago, as happened in the case of Henry Hyde? I don't think that we should all be wallowing in it, but in today's society -- Jeff made the point -- whether we do it, you do it, MSNBC does it, there's always going to be a way for it to get out in the age of the Internet. We can't stop this, and I think that we're all now in the middle of this, sort of, scorched-earth society. It's pretty ugly.
OLSON: And what Howard said is true: It's irrelevant. And I think that's true. I mean, what Howard just said is whether or not it's relevant; no one likes an adulterer.
However, we really have to look at what the president did. It wasn't adultery. No matter how much other people -- Alan Dershowitz and other want it to be about sex. It isn't about sex. I know it's sexy; it's what gets the headlines. It's about perjury...
KING: In other words, if he had lied about a traffic ticket...
KING: ... saying "I was doing 55" when he was doing 65, you'd have perjured him and thrown him out.
OLSON: Well, you don't usually lie under oath in a court of law...
KING: That's under oath. Traffic court's all under oath. I just was there.
KING: It's a good lie.
DERSHOWITZ: Larry, can I respond to Barbara?
KING: Go ahead, Alan.
DERSHOWITZ: This has a long history. During McCarthyism, they would call gay people in front of grand juries and ask them if they were gay, knowing they would have to lie about it. Then they'd say it's about -- not about sex; it's about national security; it's about character; it's about honesty. It's always about sex, but there's always a label: the label of hypocrisy, the label of national security.
But this story -- and this is being generated by the religious right, who is obsessed with Clinton's sex life, and they're using the Lewsinky...
DERSHOWITZ: ... case as an excuse. Remember that people like Reverend Falwell, people like Bob Barr, people like even Bork tried to get the president impeached even before the Lewinsky matter came to the floor, so this is a convenient excuse that the president gave them. But it is about sex.
OLSON: Alan, only you and Larry Flynt are obsessed with sex. Alan, that's...
DERSHOWITZ: That's not a fair comment, Barbara.
KING: All right. Let me get a break in, and we'll be back with more -- sort of keeping time here. Don't go away.
This week on LARRY KING LIVE -- each day brings a new turn in the Clinton impeachment proceedings, and the trial hasn't even started yet.
What's next? We'll talk with Leslie Stahl of "60 Minutes," The Washington Post's Ben Bradlee, and Sally Quinn, Bob Schieffer of CBS's "Face The Nation," and many more. And then next Monday, the first live interview with Madonna for the full hour and your phone calls. It's all on LARRY KING LIVE, 9:00 Eastern on CNN.
KING: We're back. Jeff Greenfield, as he usually does, brings some sanity to all of this. We'll ask Mr. Kurtz to join in as well. Where are we in this dispute? Is Larry Flynt a journalist if one of the definitions of journalism is providing us with information we didn't know?
GREENFIELD: There's no civil service test. If you put out a publication you're a journalist. Matt Drudge is a journalist. You're a journalist. That's the way it goes.
But where we are I think -- I think you heard an example of it just a few moments ago. What's really fascinating when a case like this emerges is that immediately people choose up sides based on much broader issues than just the issues at stake.
For some of the president's enemies this is about as Tom DeLay said moral truth versus moral relativism. Alan Dershowitz represents a point of view that says the president's conduct isn't really what's at stake because it's about an attempt to overturn the will of the people.
A lot of the passion, a lot of the anger, the fury that drives a case like this is because people can choose up sides -- you go back to Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas; you go back to the Dreyfus affair 100 years ago -- based on more powerful currents than just the guilt or innocence or facts of the case, and that's partly what's going on here.
KING: That affects the journalism, doesn't it, Howie, because we are so involved or so many of the people involved are the way Jeff described them.
KURTZ: This is the most divisive story I have ever been in the middle of.
KURTZ: Ever -- in my career. I have been surprised at all the e-mails I've getting from people who have been cheering on Larry Flynt -- these are Clinton supporters -- ordinary citizens who say, yes, let's go after these people because they're hypocrites. Everybody sees it through their prism of who they favor in this impeachment battle.
KING: That includes, Barbara -- if Larry Flynt broke a story on a Democrat would you like it?
KING: No matter who he broke it on.
OLSON: No. I mean, a man who puts a woman through a meat grinder on the cover of this magazine is not someone...
DERSHOWITZ: What if Matt Drudge broke the story?
OLSON: I mean, Matt Drudge has broken a few stories. If they're true...
KING: Do you like Matt Drudge?
OLSON: I read his column because he breaks information.
KING: How about when he misses facts?
OLSON: I think that's bad. I think it's harmful. I think once it becomes public one should be careful about what becomes public.
KING: Has Flynt missed a fact -- to your knowledge yet?
KURTZ: To my knowledge, on these two cases, no, but Drudge accurately reported I should say that the "Star" tabloid was investigating the so-called Clinton love child -- turns out to be...
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) extreme right went and believed it and that's totally unfair.
KURTZ: Not just the extreme right. The New York Post, The Washington Times, the British papers -- Jay Leno as Jeff Greenfield mentioned all went to town with this, and now, it's woops, never mind. It turns out there is no love child.
KING: Is he due an apology from Jay Leno, The Washington Times, The New York Post?
KURTZ: The newspapers have run follow-up stories saying it wasn't true. Did they say I'm sorry? No.
KING: Dee Dee, should the president condemn, Mr. Flynt?
MYERS: I don't think the president should comment on Mr. Flynt, but I would like to see some more people on the Democratic side of the aisle say that none of this is relevant. This is what got us into this mess in the first place, that we're going down the wrong road, that people's private lives should remain private, including the president's. And I don't condone the president's behavior, and I don't condone his mistruths to put it mildly. But I think we have a lot bigger problems now because of this case.
DERSHOWITZ: But the president did condemn it.
DERSHOWITZ: Right after the Livingston matter he talked about he regrets the politics of personal condemnation.
MYERS: But he didn't say Larry Flynt.
DERSHOWITZ: Wait a minute. And today Joe Lockhart condemned -- today Lockhart condemned Flynt by name. I don't think it's appropriate for the president to mention him by name. I think that would be elevating him to too high a position.
KING: What do you think of Larry Flynt, Alan?
DERSHOWITZ: I don't like Larry Flynt. I don't like what he does. I don't like his magazine. I don't like him outing people. I don't like this at all.
I defend his right -- the way I defend the right of other sleazy publications and people with whom I disagree. It's a First Amendment right and it must be distinguished from the government. It is not as dangerous when a private entrepreneur does this than when the power of the government is used to...
KING: But when a cop breaks the laws that's worse -- that's worse when an officer of the law breaks the law.
KING: One could say an officer of the law is about to go on trial this week for breaking the law. The president is considered an officer of the law, or isn't he, Alan?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, he is. I mean, he's not the chief law enforcement officer of the country -- that's a myth. In fact, if he ever tried to influence prosecution, that would be an impeachable offense. He is symbolically the head of state, and he shouldn't break the law. But our constitutional framers specifically rejected the notion that all crimes are impeachable the way most states have for governors.
KING: Are sordid stories, Howard, going to be get worse before it gets better? In other words, the campaign in 2000, are all the candidates going to be asked about this -- this, sex?
KURTZ: Well, either they'll be asked about it -- although I will not ask any of them of it or an Internet magazine or talk radio or somebody else will put out a story that in 1941 so and so fooled around when he was in college and somehow it will get into the body politic. I do think it's getting worse, and I do think there's some legitimate fear that we're driving people. I mean, who wants to put their life through this kind of audit?
KING: Would you run for office?
KURTZ: What have you got to hide?
KING: We'll take a break and we'll be back and get Jeff Greenfield's thoughts as whether this spiral continues. We'll take your calls too.
Don't go away.
KING: Before we take a call, Jeff Greenfield, does it get worse?
GREENFIELD: Well, it gets worse, but I'll take respectful issue with Howard Kurtz in terms of, you know, people not running. There're going to be so many people running for president in 2000, we're going to have to run the primaries in heats.
We find people who want to be president. But what I do think is true -- and it gets worse in this sense -- is that more and more, I think, people are moving away from politics, either because there's no Cold War or the economy is OK. They don't feel they have to be involved.
Now you add to that this kind of low spectacle, and the whole idea of looking at politics as anything other but a source of amusement is very difficult. It's almost as if we elect these people to entertain us rather than to lead us.
Indeed, if I may make one quick point, one of the things that I think the president is going to be held accountable for -- I was thinking about this -- is, you know, people who take tours of the White House and go past the Oval Office. In years past they would have said: "That's where Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. That's where FDR drafted the Four Freedoms." What are they going to be looking at when they look in the Oval Office in the next few years?
KING: Virginia Beach, Virginia. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. This question is for Alan Dershowitz.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: I would like to ask him, if Bob Barr has broken in any laws, can he be charged, and should he be charged, and how would that change what the president is charged about.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, I don't think he has. I think he had a right to invoke that privilege, much as I despise Barr for his support of a racist organization -- the Citizens' Councils down in the South -- and much as I despise him for other views, he had the right to invoke that privilege. And I don't see where he's broken any laws. Whether or not he encourages an abortion, an abortion is a constitutional right under our Constitution.
And so his conduct, I don't think has any relevance to the president's conduct. I think it may have relevance to his voters. And you know, he did, after all, deny that he spoke before that racist organization until a photograph was produced, and then he said he didn't know what their views were, and then the head of the organization said he did know what the views were, so his credibility is very much in question, too.
KING: Dee Dee, last night two opposing senators, Bennett and Biden, both thought the president should not give the State of the Union on the 19th, that it's embarrassing all the way around, yet Paul Begala said today he will. Should he?
MYERS: Well, I think that's -- I think there's divergent views in the Senate. I know Senator Daschle, the minority leader, has basically told the White House that it's up to them, that he would leave it to their judgment. And I know a lot of the Democratic senators agree with that, so I think there's a split.
KING: What do you think?
MYERS: I think that without having canvassed the rest of the Senate, I don't know what the majority opinion there is. I've seen a number of quotes on both sides. I think the White House has to be very, very conscious and deferential to the Senate's opinion on this and other issues as they go forward.
If there is no real objection, then I think the president ought to proceed, but I think the audience for this is not the country and the president's popularity in the polls; it is the Senate.
KING: Don't you think it's going to be difficult to walk in? You've got half the place's investigating you and the other half charged you.
MYERS: Well, and I think that's the problem with him delivering it. You know, the State of the Union has been delivered as late as mid-February. The president should -- he needs to put it off.
KING: He can even write it in.
MYERS: Exactly. It used to be submitted -- written. He should at least put it off until mid-February; if they stick to their schedule they'll be done.
KING: How does it play, Howie...
GREENFIELD: He should give it.
KING: All right, we'll ask that in a minute. Howie, how does it play? How's it going to play that night? Huge audience.
KURTZ: Don't forget that this president came out and gave a State of the Union message a year ago six days or so after the Monica Lewinsky...
KING: It was a charge -- just the Lewinsky charge, not impeachment.
KURTZ: Oh, but it was dominating every newscast, every newspaper.
KING: But now they're going to shoot shots of Henry Hyde, who was not shot once on camera during the State of the Union last year. We're going to see people in the Senate, right? We're going to see -- who's in the gallery? "I want to introduce my wife in the gallery." KURTZ: It's going to be hanging in the air, just the way the O.J. verdict was that night a couple of years ago, but the White House knows that the public, by and large, is sick of this whole impeachment drama. They view this as the one chance the president has primetime to connect with the people...
KING: He's going to go up 10 points.
KURTZ: Well, he's going to try to show that he's still doing his job. If he cancels it, people will say, "Boy, this impeachment thing really is getting him."
KING: Alan, isn't there any embarrassment to doing it?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, I think Dee Dee is, with due respect, wrong. His audience is not the Senate. His audience is the American people, who will send messages to the Senate.
He has to persuade the American people that he's doing his job as president. He has to appear to be forgetting about his personal problems and doing the people's business. And if the people then write to the Senate and put pressure on the Senate, that's the way, I think, he wants this to go.
I think it's the right decision. I think for him to cancel would be for him to acknowledge that this is influencing his public life.
KING: Jeff, should he or shouldn't he?
GREENFIELD: Oh, you know, they don't pay me at the White House to should or shouldn't, but it is a terrific...
KING: No, but they pay you at CNN to analyze.
GREENFIELD: To analyze, right...
GREENFIELD: ... let Dershowitz and Olson comment.
But my feeling is that it is a tremendously potent political moment for the president. He does these things brilliantly. A year ago, when some people high up in the media were saying, I wonder if he's going to beg for forgiveness, resign, you know, do a Perry Mason confession, he gave a very effective policy speech.
And from the get-go, way back before he was president, every time he's gotten into trouble on personal grounds, the president has said: I want to talk about the work you're going to hire me to do; I want to talk about your tomorrows, not my yesterdays. And it's always been effective for him.
In fact, I would argue the last really effective communication the president had was that last State of the Union speech, because, Lord knows, that August 17th speech was not a winner, nor was that, you know, Friday please-censure-me thing. This is where he shines. Let me tell you about Social Security, Medicare, the environment, teacher training -- that's what he does. And I think -- you know, I can't imagine he wants to give it up.
KING: We'll be right back with more. Leslie Stahl tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Take another call -- Des Moines, Iowa, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. This is a question for Mr. Dershowitz and Ms. Olson.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: And I was wondering -- Bob Barr seemed to stand on his use of what is, like, the Fifth Amendment...
CALLER: ... in Georgia.
Wouldn't that be political suicide for President Clinton to invoke that during the grand jury, and isn't that what they're trying to impeach him for, which is basically if he would have...
KING: Alan, would it have been -- it would have been suicide to take the Fifth?
DERSHOWITZ: I think it's a good point. It would have been suicide to take the Fifth. And I think it's right to point out that Bob Barr voted for an article of impeachment which was defeated, which included the president taking privileges.
And I think taking privileges is the privilege, the right of every American citizen. But the president has to be very careful. There are certain privileges he can invoke, executive privileges. Others, the Fifth Amendment, he cannot invoke.
OLSON: Well, as you know, that privilege that was in that last article, impeachment, had nothing to do with the Fifth Amendment. It had to do with his Secret Service privilege and the frivolous use of executive privilege, which was borne out by the Supreme Court and all of the decisions that went up there.
DERSHOWITZ: Not right. No.
KING: Dee Dee, where do you think all of this -- where is it going? What's your read?
MYERS: Well, I think the trial will -- obviously the opening statements will go forward. A motion to dismiss will be rejected. And I think that there will be at least some witnesses approved for deposition. And the depositions will go forward. And I think it's -- one of the things perhaps the Senate didn't anticipate, or at least the Democrats, is that by breaking down the decisions toward witnesses into small pieces it actually makes it easier. You can sort of get there in baby steps, and I suspect that before all is said and done, we'll see witnesses.
KING: Does that mean, Barbara, we go into -- into -- well, into February?
OLSON: I don't think so. I think because we're doing this by deposition, the senators can accept the transcript from the deposition. They can go into smaller sessions to actually hear Betty Currie's statements and see where the conflicts are.
KING: Four (ph) senators do the depositions, right?
OLSON: Exactly. It's a much smaller group; it's much faster. They can look and see the conflicts.
There are very small areas of conflict that you have.
KING: Are you hopeful, if hope is the right word, Jeff, of a quick ending to this?
GREENFIELD: You know, once again, we have got to let them take its course. You know, I hate predictions. I will make you one prediction.
KING: Every time you say you hate you make one. That's why we love you as a guest.
GREENFIELD: You need to listen to this one. If Monica Lewinsky testifies, the saddest person in America will be Barbara Walters.
KING: Well put.
GREENFIELD: I think that's a pretty safe prediction, don't you?
GREENFIELD: But the more important thing is I asked Senators McCain and Biden Friday when they announced this at least temporary bipartisan agreement if it weren't fair to say that this wouldn't happen -- wouldn't have happened if the senators basically were as of now absolutely convinced this was going to end with an acquittal. And both McCain and Biden acknowledged that.
But I think my feeling is that the more the great majority of the Senate believes that this is where it's going, the less anger and hostility there will be.
I think if this thing turns somehow, you know, if witnesses surprise us, then you're going to see this thing get really angry in the Senate. KING: We'll get Howie's and Alan's thoughts, and come back with our remaining moments after this.
KING: Concord, Massachusetts, one more call. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, hi.
CALLER: Since our country is founded on three co-equal branches of government which provides checks and balances, isn't it quite different when the president, who single-handedly represents the executive branch, lies to a federal grand jury than if Bob Barr lied about his, you know, sexual indiscretion if it turns out to be true?
DERSHOWITZ: Sure it is, but it depends on what the president lies about. If the president lies about a matter of state, if the president lies about a matter that involves the liberties of Americans, that really does make a difference.
But when the president lies about his sexual conduct, that simply doesn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
OLSON: then you give every man a walk in a sexual harassment case.
DERSHOWITZ: Every man.
OLSON: And you are giving every person a walk...
DERSHOWITZ: No, you prosecute them.
OLSON: ... if you're saying men can lie about...
DERSHOWITZ: You prosecute them.
DERSHOWITZ: Don't put words in my mouth. You don't remove a president from office. You remove a CEO. You remove a professor. You remove a lawyer. But you don't remove an elected president.
OLSON: He committed -- no, you say it's not perjury. You say it doesn't rise to the level of perjury.
DERSHOWITZ: I didn't -- you didn't hear what I said, Barbara. It may be perjury. It doesn't rise to the level of a removable offense.
OLSON: Because it's sexual perjury -- you want a new area.
KING: What, Howard Kurtz, do you think is going to happen here? Give us a little crystal ball.
KURTZ: Well, Larry, I don't know how long the Senate trial will drag on, but for me, the interesting question is are the broadcast networks going to stick with it day after day when we basically have lawyers for both sides arguing about perjury.
KING: Meaning stuff we have heard already.
KURTZ: Absolutely. This whole question of is it about sex, is it about perjury, might be asked of the media too. If the salacious details are not on parade and we have lawyers arguing...
KING: Well, for the next six days, you're going to have lawyers arguing the same things we saw argued in the...
KURTZ: And how interested will the country be? Here is this incredible historic event, the first time in 130 years, and yet I sense that more people are talking about Michael Jordan.
KING: Oh, Michael Jordan's the big story tonight.
KURTZ: Right, absolutely.
DERSHOWITZ: There's only one witness who can change the outcome of this case now, and that's William Jefferson Clinton. If he were to testify, he could lose this case. And if he doesn't testify, I think he will win this case.
And I warned him about that before. I warned him about it in my writings before the Paula Jones case. I warned him about it before the grand jury. He's a great speech giver and an awful testifier.
KING: Jeff, can he pull this off? Can the comeback kid come back again?
GREENFIELD: Oh, yes.
KING: Oh, yes?
GREENFIELD: Yes, because once he's acquitted, what's the atmosphere going to be? Assuming that he's acquitted, I think contrary to what some people have said there's going to be a tremendous appetite in the Congress and certainly in the White House to show that the government has not been immobilized by this. And in fact, while his place in history, I think, can never be reclaimed the way it might have been without this, the idea that the White House and the Congress can't work on -- on legislative agenda is probably -- should be flipped.
I mean, there's going to be a hunger on the part of these politicians to prove that they can get out of this swamp and do something useful.
KING: Dee Dee, if acquitted, do you think they'll censure him?
MYERS: There certainly seems to be a desire to do that at this point. But if it requires getting the president to admit to more than he's already done to get enough votes from the Republican side to make a majority, then I think it gets difficult. Why should the president after he's acquitted in a trial in the Senate negotiate?
KING: Barbara, you agree?
OLSON: No. I hope they don't do a censure. I think if...
KING: Either acquit or not -- that's it?
OLSON: If he's acquitted -- if we decide, as Mr. Dershowitz suggested, that perjury about sex is not removable, then you vote that way.
KING: If acquitted, do you also think he should not be charged criminally when he leaves office?
OLSON: That's a whole different -- the impeachment process is not a punishment. His charges should remain.
KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be back with a note or two right after these words.
KING: My thanks to all our guests for being here tonight. Don't miss LARRY KING LIVE tomorrow night. Leslie Stahl of "60 Minutes" will discuss the impeachment trial and her new book.
And then as the trial gets under way Thursday, we'll be joined by Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn of The Washington Post and CBS's Bob Schieffer. And don't forget Madonna Monday night.
Up next, the primetime edition of "LATE EDITION" with Wolf Blitzer. You'll see Wolf's taped interview with Representative Bob Barr, plus Senators Frank Lautenberg and Richard Shelby.
Wolf, next, now.
Wednesday January 13, 1999
Clinton will not address impeachment in State of the Union
Transcript: Clinton answers questions about Senate impeachment trial
Document: Trial memorandum of President Clinton
Poll: New Hampshire Democrats lean toward Gore
Barr: 'I have never, would never perjure myself'
Transcript: Barr and Flynt on CNN's Larry King Live
Court weighs smaller welfare benefits for newcomers
Clinton to Jones: The check's in the mail
Thieves break into office of Israeli candidate's pollster
Linda Tripp tops Blackwell's worst-dressed list
Operatives with both parties see risks to impeachment trial
Judge Rehnquist demands preparation
GOP pushes campaign finance bill
Clinton hails Michael Jordan's mind, body, spirit
Court rules police don't have to say how to reclaim seized property
Jewish leaders' appeal for Pollard delays Reno's advice
Clinton set to back $2 billion, disability-to-work program
Gay man renominated for ambassadorship
Sources: Gingrich may run for governor