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Larry King Live

FBI Arrests One of Its Own for Espionage; Michael Waltrip Remembers Dale Earnhardt

Aired February 20, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, TV's top judge, Judy Sheindlin, outspoken, opinionated and taking your calls.

But first...


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Allegations of espionage of an FBI counterintelligence agent are extremely serious and are deeply disturbing.


KING: A longtime FBI agent is accused of spying for the Russians. How would you react if he was your neighbor? This man, Mike Shotwell, can answer that question from personal experience.

We'll also be talking to a former director of the FBI, Judge William Sessions.

In Phoenix, Republican Senator Jon Kyl, a member of the select committee on intelligence, and intelligence expert David Wise.

And then, NASCAR tragedy and triumph -- how would you feel about finishing first in a race that kills a legendary driver who owns your car? Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip will join us from North Carolina to talk about that victory and the death of Dale Earnhardt. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: Philip Hanssen, 27-year veteran of the FBI -- arrested. According to many involved in the Bureau and others, this is one of the major, major spy cases of all time. Judge Sessions, have we ever had a scandal in the FBI?

WILLIAM SESSIONS, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Well, you've had previous scandals where people have been accused and, actually, where they've been imprisoned -- two different ones. But it's always a shock; it's like it never happened before, and it is stunning when it does happen.

KING: David Wise, you're expert on intelligence, your recent book "Cassidy's Run" about the secret war over nerve gas. Does this shock you? ROBERT WISE, INTELLIGENCE EXPERT: Well, you know, Claude Rains said in "Casablanca" he was shocked, but I don't think anyone should be shocked that there might be a mole in an intelligence agency.

I think what requires further scrutiny is why he was able to do it for 16 years.

KING: And your reaction, Senator Kyl, as a member of a committee that deals with intelligence?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Well, it's obviously very disturbing. We are going to have to await damage assessment to see just what kind of harm came from this, but it should remind us again that, even though the Cold War is over, intelligence activities continue, and it is not time now to be cutting back on our intelligence budget, or to assume that we don't have to be very, very careful about our operations.

KING: The charge is is that it has been going on for 15 years. Mike Shotwell, you're a neighbor of the Hanssen family -- Robert Philip Hanssen, I believe he has four children. How well do you know him?

MIKE SHOTWELL, ACCUSED SPY'S NEIGHBOR: Basically, just know him from seeing him in the neighborhood, up and down the street. We have a small, quiet neighborhood, and a lot of people do a lot of walking and walk their dogs, and basically from that.

KING: How many years have you known -- how many years have you both lived in that neighborhood?

SHOTWELL: Mr. Hanssen and -- I think has been there -- probably 10, 12, maybe even 15 years. I have been there five.

KING: Well, it's -- whenever you talk to neighbors of an incident occurring on street, there is always shock -- obviously, I don't want to put words in your mouth -- were you shocked?

SHOTWELL: Oh, absolutely. Of course, everybody was shocked. You never suspect something like that is going to happen in your neighborhood. And the whole neighborhood was totally shocked, there is no doubt about that.

KING: Did you know he was an agent of the Bureau?

SHOTWELL: Yes, most of us in the neighborhood did know that he worked for the FBI. We did not...

KING: What do you do, Mike?

SHOTWELL: I own a sedan and limousine service.

KING: Oh, you drive people around?

SHOTWELL: Yes -- yes, sir, we do.

KING: Did you ever stop and talk to him?

SHOTWELL: Not usually. He was not a very social person. We actually had a few run-ins with him with the homeowners association.

KING: Run-ins?

SHOTWELL: Well, they -- you know, we have rules and regulations with homeowners associations, and he didn't want to abide by them, and he kind of acted like he wanted to do his own thing.

KING: And so, you describe him as maverick in that regard?

SHOTWELL: I wouldn't describe him as a maverick, just not a very sociable person, and -- type of arrogance about him.

KING: He had a problem with his dog and the police, right?

SHOTWELL: Yes, he did have a problem with his dog. He let his dog run loose in the neighborhood. And we're all animal lovers, but nobody wants dog running loose in neighborhood, tearing up their yards, and he -- we approached him many times and asked him to take care of the situation. He just refused. You know, he told to us mind our own business, he'd do what he wanted to do.

KING: So you're shocked, but he wasn't likable?

SHOTWELL: True. Yes.

KING: Good way to put it.

Judge Sessions, how could it go on for this long?

SESSIONS: Well, I think Senator Kyl hit it right on the nose when he said we have to pay attention to it very carefully. We have to be sure that the budgets there are, we have to be sure that the support is there of an organization which is charged with responsibility of dealing with counterintelligence, or else you cannot -- you cannot monitor those things and look out after those things that you must look out after.

It takes agents, it takes support staff, it takes budgets to do these things. And when Cold War was over, immediately people thought that it was a time to relax, a time to lay back. And that, of course, is the time when major operations go on and major losses occur.

KING: Now, David, we believe, of course, in innocence until proven guilt, and that is the assumption for Mr. Hanssen as would it be for anyone. But why would the Russians, so long after the Cold War, be interested in information at this point when they're trying to grow a society?

WISE: I think there was assumption when the Soviet Union collapsed 10 years ago that spying would end. Somehow, the Cold War would mean an end to spying, but of course, that hasn't been the case at all. Both sides have been active in their intelligence work. And this -- from that point of view, it's not surprising at all. This, in a way, could be looked upon as the Aldrich Ames case for the FBI. Aldrich Ames, of course, being the CIA agent who betrayed many, many Soviets who were working for the CIA -- and 10 of them were executed.

KING: Senator Kyl, safe to assume that we must have people over there.

KYL: True. Well, of course, all countries spy. The Russians, however, make a real project of it. They've got more spies against us now than they did during the Cold War.

KING: You know that.

KYL: Yes. And to further expand on your question of how he could get way with it, it appears that he was a very good agent, a very good counterintelligence operative who understood precisely how to avoid detection.

And it wasn't through any error of his own that he was detected, but rather, through some information that we learned in other ways. So, he was a very careful operative. He knew his trade and, unfortunately, he committed, apparently, a lot of that to the Russians.

KING: Apparently, it was an internal audit, right, senator? That picked up, I guess, finances out of whack?

KYL: Well, that was the phrase that Louis Freeh used -- there apparently is some other information that came to our attention. But it came to our attention externally, it wasn't something that he tipped us off to. He was a very clever agent.

KING: We'll be right back with more, and then we'll meet Michael Waltrip and then Judge Judy.

Tomorrow night, by the way, exclusive on LARRY KING LIVE, together for the first time since that night, Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger, the couple who got married on television. Remember -- broke up the next day and vowed never to be together again? They'll be together here tomorrow.

And then the I-Man will analyze that on Thursday. Don't go away.


LOUIS FREEH, FBI DIRECTOR: The full extent of the damage done is yet unknown, because no accurate damage assessment could be done during the course of the covert investigation without jeopardizing it. We believe, however, that it was exceptionally grave.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Judge Sessions, we've just learned that the FBI plans to start interviewing State Department officials tomorrow who had contact with Robert Philip Hanssen. So, he did a lot of international work?

SESSIONS: He was assigned, I believe, over at the Department of State, and that was his place to function. Now, he may have worked out of the FBI building as well, but I think he was assigned to the task over there.

KING: Can you give me an idea, David, of what kinds of information, off the top, you'd think he'd be getting?

WISE: Well, one of the worst things that he is accused and charged with giving to the Soviets and then the Russians were the names of three Soviet intelligence officers who were actually working for the CIA. Two of them were stationed here in Washington and one on the West Coast in San Francisco.

And the two in Washington, those names were given by Ames but confirmed to the charges by Robert Hanssen so that the Russians then had confirmation and those two gentlemen were executed. And the third man on the West Coast went to prison, but was released by Boris Yeltsin some years ago.

KING: Senator Kyl, very often these cases don't come to trial. Either there's plea bargains, they do life, they turnover more information. Sometimes there's even exchanges. Do you expect a trial here?

KYL: I don't know. It's too early to tell but the attorney for Hanssen will undoubtedly evaluate whether or not the government can prove the case and how uncomfortable it is to prove the case in a public trial, meaning how much classified information we'll have to leak out in order for them to actually prosecute.

If the price is too high for the government, then they may take a chance and bluff us into trying to try him. If they think we can make the case, then they may plea because after all. the sentence here is death, and they may enter into some kind of a plea agreement in which he would escape the death penalty in exchange for providing us with information.

KING: And you got a pretty good lawyer in Mr. Cacheris.

KYL: He does, one of the best. By the way, there is one other bit of kind of information that would have been shared with the Russians, and that is about the methodology we use both to defeat the Russians and also to acquire information ourselves. That can be very, very valuable information for the Russians, and very damaging for the United States to have coughed it up. That's probably in the long run the biggest loss that we will have suffered as a result of this agent's actions.

KING: Mike Shotwell, what's happening on the block? Have you seen Mrs. Hanssen or any of the children? SHOTWELL: No, we haven't seen any of them of them today. I would imagine they are all went someplace else. The block, of course, is very busy today.

KING: Are people searching the house?

SHOTWELL: Yes, the FBI was there all day long. We saw them going in and out all day long, and their vehicles coming and going all day long and searching the house.

KING: Certainly has caused talk in the neighborhood.

KING: Oh, absolutely. Everybody is talking about it and everybody is, you know, like I said everybody is astounded what happened and everybody has thoughts for the children mainly the main thing.

KING: Obviously, they're always the innocents in all of this.

KING: Absolutely, sir.

KING: Judge Sessions, is it safe to say if they've had one, they must have some others.

SESSIONS: If they have one what, Larry?

KING: Spy, if some people have spies in a bureau, that maybe Mr. Hanssen isn't the only one.

SESSIONS: I think you have to presume always that they're there and that they're looking and that you have an obligation to have a continuous program that will actually allow you, as they did in this case, to find that there is something irregular and that they need to pursue the -- trying to find the mole and that's -- it's always a matter of trying when the agent is trying not to be found, and nobody working with a companion in workplace wants to be accusatory unless he has something real to go on. It's a very difficult thing to do the counterintelligence on a counterintelligence agent.

KING: David Wise, since both sides are apparently doing it, can we issue a strong condemnation of the Russians?

WISE: Well, that may happen but it won't mean very much because both sides know that the game will go on.

KING: And it is a game.

WISE: It is a kind of a game.

KING: Except people die.

WISE: It can be very deadly game for the 10 agents that Aldrich Ames betrayed and who were shot. As I said, two of whom were also betrayed by Mr. Hanssen, according to the charges.

KING: Senator Kyl, are we always going to have spies? KYL: Yes, there will always be spies because it's important for nations to know how other countries work, and what their decision- making processes are, and also some of the secrets that they possess. It is very difficult, for a country like the United States, as open, as we are, to average, but it makes us especially vulnerable as well.

I guess what's so troubling to all of us is how someone who has worked for the FBI or before that, Ames working for the CIA, could actually sell out their country and cause people to die just for a little bit more money. That's the perplexing thing.

KING: And in case you missed it, as we said earlier, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. We thank Mike Shotwell, Judge William Sessions, Senator Jon Kyl and David Wise.

When we come back, the winner of the Daytona 500, a sadly tainted victory for terrific driver Michael Waltrip right next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: From Sherrils Ford, North Carolina, we thank him for joining us, is Michael Waltrip, the winner of the Daytona 500. His brother, Darrell, was with us last night. Services will take place for the legendary Dale Earnhardt tomorrow and Thursday.

Michael, just to explain a little, Dale owned his car and he owned two other cars in the race; right? Yours and his son's.

MICHAEL WALTRIP, NASCAR DRIVER: Yes, and Steve Parks. Dale actually drove for another team and owned three teams that the three of us drove for.

KING: And this is allowed in NASCAR; right? I can drive for another person and own other cars.

WALTRIP: Yes, but it's unique. Not very many people have the ability to handle such a feat. And last year, Dale, had two teams and yet raced for the Winston Cup championship. This year, he added my team, a third team, and at one point in the Daytona 500, Larry, we were running one, two, three with the Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated cars and Dale was running fourth. So, you can see what a genius he was behind the scenes of our race teams and then driving his car to front as well.

KING: And since this was your first NASCAR victory, he hired you. He gave you a tremendous break here, did he not?

KING: You won't believe what he gave me. He gave me not only a team and a bunch people working behind me to give me the chance to win a race, but he instilled something in me more than that. Ever since he hired me, all I've heard from him was you better win a race.

You're going to win a race, and he said it so many times and just gave me so much confidence that when I got to Daytona I was like, I'm going to win the Daytona 500. Yes, I believe that. And then we went out did the job. So, he just was so much to me and my career, 16 years of trying, and finally brought it home.

KING: Now how soon, Michael, after you won it -- you knew Dale finished second. Drivers know where everyone is in the race. How soon did you know after you won it that something had happened to Dale?

WALTRIP: It wasn't right away, Larry. I pulled into victory lane. My brother was on the headset talking to me and the pictures were being taken. I was enjoying the moment, but I kept looking over my shoulder because I knew any minute Dale was going to walk into victory lane and grab me around neck and give me a big hug and say that's what I was talking about right there.

And when he didn't show up for a while and Dale Junior didn't show up a while, I just got to thinking something is not right. And then Kenny Schroeder, who was involved in the accident as well, came to victory lane a short time after that and said that Dale was not doing well, and to be praying for him and thinking of him. And I went from the greatest day of my life to the worst day all within minutes.

KING: Boy, I guess that's impossible to explain isn't it?

WALTRIP: It is -- I just keep saying it's a crazy world. The only thing that keeps me going is I have faith in God, and I believe that in the twinkle of an eye, Dale was out of that car and in Heaven watching me celebrate from victory lane. That's what I believe, and that makes me rest better. But I certainly am going to have a lot of questions one day to try to find out what makes these things happen.

KING: Are you going to ride Sunday?

WALTRIP: Yes, sir. Dale would have wanted it that way. I knew Dale really well. I have been able to tell people stories about Dale and share the story of the Daytona 500 because of the strength that Dale has given me because I know he would want to us go on. He would be kicking us in rear end saying, "You better get your (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I want to see some more wins."

He would be telling me that that Daytona 500 win doesn't mean a whole lot if I don't give him some more to back it up with, so...

KING: But it's going to be an eerie feeling, isn't it, at the start?

WALTRIP: I think it will be...

KING: I mean, once you're racing, you're racing.

WALTRIP: I think it will be very eerie on Saturday -- Friday afternoon and Saturday, walking around, knowing that Dale is not there.

Dale has meant so much to so many people. There's just an outcry of -- an outpouring of support by the shop there in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the media has just done a fantastic job memorializing Dale, and I appreciate all those things that have gone on, but, you know, there are certainly going to be some heavy hearts.

KING: Are you going wear any of this new safety gear they're talking about, which is mandated in formula driving?

WALTRIP: Well, in Atlanta, in a week, I have a test, and I've planned on, all along, testing the new Hans device there to see if it's something that I'm comfortable with.

I've been driving these cars for a long time and I've wrecked really hard and bad and I understand that every wreck is different, but I -- I brace and I hang on a certain way and I'm real comfortable with the way I do things, and so this is going to be something new and different.

And while I am open to trying it and I will try it, I want to do it in a test first and I'm planning on doing that down at Atlanta next week.

KING: Obviously, we know the dangers. I asked your brother this last night -- Michael, why do you do you this?

WALTRIP: Man, Larry...

KING: I mean, you could die Sunday, easily, not by some -- you could die easily.

WALTRIP: Well, the fact of the matter is we've had four deaths in the last year and that's just out of control. I mean, I do not -- I cannot explain those things happening. Before that, through the '90s, seldom, but occasionally, someone did get killed and we understand there is risk to that.

But it starts out so innocently. You're a 10- or 12-year-old kid in a little go-cart racing around. It's the best time in your whole life and you just want to get a car so you can race. And you -- you're racing on a quarter-mile track and you're banging on your buddies and it's just the best time in the whole world, and you just want to do more and more and more.

And by the time you finally get to the places like Daytona or Talladega and running 200 miles an hour, it's in your blood. It's a way of -- it's part of your life. It's what helps complete who you are and you can't just -- you can't just walk away from it.

KING: Throw it away.

Thank you, Michael, and good luck on the weekend.

WALTRIP: Thank you, Larry, for having me on, and I just want to say hey to Sterling Marlin and let all the fans know that, man, what happened to Dale was just a racing deal, you know.

KING: Yes, don't blame anybody.

WALTRIP: Don't blame anybody. Dale wouldn't want it that way, and, none of us -- none of his teammates certainly want it to be that way, either.

KING: Michael Waltrip, the winner of the Daytona 500.

What an incredible story.

Judge Judy is next.

Friday night, another exclusive interview: Tiger Woods. Don't go away.


KING: It's always great to welcome her to LARRY KING LIVE -- Judge Judy Sheindlin, the Emmy-nominated Judge Judy. She's won them all, she's a best-selling author.

Her newest book: "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover: Cool Rules for School." Hip idea.

Judge Judy, why children's books?

JUDY SHEINDLIN, HOST, "JUDGE JUDY": That's a good place to start, isn't it? Things aren't so good in this country.

KING: This for what age group?

SHEINDLIN: 6, 7, 8, 9 -- you know, by the time you get kids when they're older than that age, their moral development has already had a good head start, so I figure, get them as young as you can.

The book is really designed for parents, like you, Larry, to sit down with your kids, 15 or 20 minutes a day, and say "Listen, let's talk about something that happened in school today."

You know, something -- "You had a new kid in your class, I understand, and people weren't being nice to him. Or people weren't being nice to her. How would you feel about that?"

You know, how do you create kindness in children, good moral sense?

KING: Character -- how much of character development occurs in school?

SHEINDLIN: I think some, but I think that your passing the buck if you say that the school is responsible for character development. I think that that starts from the time children are born and draw their first breath, you know, and their parents take care of them and nurture them and give them a sense of security when they're a month old, six months old, a year old -- so I think that the responsibility for it rests squarely at home.

But it's fortified by what they see in school. Teachers, classmates.

KING: Do you like the George Bush idea, by the way, of grading schools -- grading how kids do?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Measuring their improvement.

SHEINDLIN: Oh, absolutely.

You know, we -- when I went -- did you go to a public elementary school?

KING: Sure did, New York City.

SHEINDLIN: Right, New York City. I did, too, and I think that I got a really reasonable education there. There weren't a whole bunch of private schools to go to. And if there were...

KING: Right, they go to private school and we would think something was wrong with you.

SHEINDLIN: And even my own children, who are now in their 30s, went, for most part, to public schools, and they turned out okay.

And today, when you talk to people about sending their kids to public school in New York City -- in most major cities -- you know, they would rather get three jobs, you know, to get them to go into a different kind of situation.

KING: Let me get a break and come back.

Judge Judy Sheindlin, her newest, "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover: Cool Rules for Schools," illustrated by Bob Tore. He did a terrific job, by the way.

SHEINDLIN: He's wonderful, isn't he?

KING: Yes, terrific.

When we come back, lots to talk about with Judge Judy and your phone calls.

Tomorrow night -- Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell, together!

We'll be right back. Don't go away.



JUDGE JUDY: Did you interrupt me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry. Sorry, but that is a lie.

JUDGE JUDY: Did you interrupt me?


JUDGE JUDY: You just said you are sorry and you did it again.


JUDGE JUDY: Don't do it again.

ANNOUNCER: Don't interrupt the judge.



JUDGE JUDY: Is there something wrong with you?


JUDGE JUDY: Do you understand what happens in court?

ANNOUNCER: You are about to enter the courtroom of Judge Judith Sheindlin.


KING: Judge, you have become famous and you're not famous until you make tabloids -- look at all this. Judge Judy Sheindlin, front cover "Star" -- Judge Judy's show is rigged -- Judge Judy: "I'll quit show to save my marriage." Judge Judy's verdict on JonBenet. I don't want to get involved with Geraldo -- you're not on the cover here, but you're somewhere in here. Judge Judy, death threats! AIDS scandal!

SHEINDLIN: So what...

KING: What do you make of all this?

SHEINDLIN: What do you do?

KING: You're a legend.

SHEINDLIN: What do you do? Last week, no -- last month -- somebody called me and said, you know, you were in one of those tabloids; I said, now what? They said, well, you were in a restaurant in Los Angeles -- a French restaurant in Los Angeles with your husband, and they named the restaurant, and you were there with six other people -- you took the check, you went over the bill, and you found a $60 discrepancy -- look how specific. And as a result of that, you only gave the waiter a 10 percent tip.

I was never in that restaurant. I had no idea what they were talking about; never went out with six people, you know -- even when I'm here, I eat muffins and water for dinner. It was just totally fabricated, and you say, what do you do? How do you respond to that? Do you respond to that? If you respond to it, you are giving more credence to it.

You know, I listened to it, and I see other people, who have a some celebrity, surrounding them, and I feel sorry for them because some of them -- it is really hurtful. You know, some of the things they say are really hurtful: the fact may be a lousy tipper which is not true by the way, Larry.

KING: If you're a major personality and a lousy tipper, that will get around.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, I know.

KING: Trust me, it will get around. You don't tip lousy...


KING: Hey, the girls here brought you food.

SHEINDLIN: They brought me food!

KING: That you eat?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely, pastrami. Absolutely.

KING: OK, but, what do you make of being this kind of celebrity where we see a headline, you will quit the show to save your marriage -- which implies your marriage is in trouble.

SHEINDLIN: Judge Judy and Judge Jerry go to Europe to save their marriage. We went on vacation to Europe, and shopping at Le Perle (ph), which is a very, I guess, pricey lingerie shop. I buy my lingerie at Filene's Basement.

KING: Was your marriage ever in trouble?

SHEINDLIN: It was 10 years ago, and we resolved it, got divorced, got remarried -- that you know.

KING: Do you like -- is it amusing to you? Angry?

SHEINDLIN: It's not amusing to me. It's amusing, because most of the things that they say -- always have some shred of truth to it; you know, we went to Europe. The fact that I didn't shop in a certain store for lingerie to please my husband, who is going to make a big deal about that? But I do get the sense, that there are some things about some people that are put in -- I mean, I'm mean, they said more -- more mean now on TV than I was before, because I want better ratings, I'm mean...

KING: What do you mean by AIDS scandal?

SHEINDLIN: Two years ago, you know there was somebody commented on something that I said, in Australia when I was there, and they blew it all out of proportion, so you have to accept the fact.

KING: Can you understand why people sue them?

SHEINDLIN: You can understand that if somebody says something that is really hurtful, and you have untold resources, you would say, I'm going to put my lawyers on this; I don't care what it costs me and I'm going to get my -- I'm going to get my pound of flesh.

KING: You don't do that.

SHEINDLIN: I don't do it because I really believe that by doing that, what you do is, you just prolong the agony. It keeps coming out -- you see it over and over and over again. Otherwise, you take these rags and use them to wrap dead fish in. You know, two day-old fish. So, it lends more credibility.

It also comes with the turf, Larry, and you know that. I mean, I'm sure you have seen your name in those papers occasionally.

KING: Occasionally.

SHEINDLIN: And things that you didn't like to read about yourself, things that you would prefer true or not true, that nobody else shared.

KING: But is this a case of...

SHEINDLIN: It goes with the territory. And, you have to accept the fact that it goes with the territory. There, also, is a piece of me that thinks of people of celebrity, irrespective of their celebrity, whether they are sports celebrities, television celebrities, motion picture celebrities, political celebrities, when you are supposed to try to do the right thing, and if you try to do right thing, they may get you on something that you -- embarrassed you a little bit, you know, your skirt fell down at the airport.

Diane Sawyer, I saw that cute interview, you know. Diane Sawyer loses her skirt at the airport. Well, would she hope that nobody else -- repeated that story? Of course. Was it an embarrassing moment? Yes. Does it come with the territory? Will they care if Sadie Glutz (ph) lost her skirt in the airport? Of course not. It comes with the territory.

KING: Do you also think that you are a victim of it because you are tough on television, that you berate people, so there is a kind of, we are going get even with her, because this is the way she is. Do you think that's part of it?

SHEINDLIN: Maybe, perhaps that is true. But I see so many people that are not tough.

KING: Also get it.

SHEINDLIN: That also get it. I really just think that these bottom suckers make their and they are, bottom suckers.

KING: Never heard that term.

SHEINDLIN: They make their living, out of trying to find the worst possible moment in somebody's life if it happens to be a true moment, and if it is not, they will take information from people without confirming -- without trying to authenticate, and print it and say, if you don't like it, sue me. Knowing that most people don't, and will just let it go. And they sell newspapers, people who want to read it or going to read it.

KING: We'll take calls for Judge Judy; another big book out: "You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover," and it deals with school and rules for school, for kids age 6 to 10; they can read it and parents can read it to them, and we we'll discuss some other aspects; and we'll take your calls, don't go away.


JUDGE JUDY: The bail receipt -- they're so smart -- they list the denominations of the bills. Eight 100s, one 50, then one 10, seven 20s we have we've got to get it straight. You withdrew the $850. Now, where did you get the extra cash from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From, I work at a bar on the weekends and that was my tip money from the week before.


JUDGE JUDY: Don't speak to her! Liar, liar, pants on fire. Don't speak to her!




JUDGE JUDY: She had permission from your agent to enter your premises, therefore, she was not trespassing! Do you understand, Mr. Valdes?

VALDES: I understand.


VALDES: But I don't agree with it.

JUDGE JUDY: I don't give a rat's behind whether you agree with it or not!


KING: A rat's behind; pretty tough. How is your husband taking the -- he lost his show, huh?

SHEINDLIN: Well, he is lost into retirement, so he's suffering in beautiful Naples, Florida.

KING: He's not depressed?

SHEINDLIN: No, I don't think. The last I left him, I was the one depressed, because I was coming to work and he was staying in that beautiful new place in Naples. With the dogs.

KING: Did someone replace him? Who is doing "People's Court" now?

SHEINDLIN: A woman will be starting I think March or April, young woman. I have never met her; I haven't seen her yet. you know. I hope she is great.

KING: What do you make of the Clinton brouhaha? Ever thought on it?


KING: You are a New Yorker, he is a New Yorker.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, thank you. Thank you for that -- I am in Florida for winter at least.

KING: Naturally.

SHEINDLIN: You know, so many words have been said in last couple days about it. Anything that I said would probably be repetitious.

KING: You are a judge and this is a legal matter.

SHEINDLIN: He is -- he is a very charismatic man, so I have been told. And I guess I can understand it. I think he is also a very smart man. I think he made some very, very foolish judgments -- social judgments, as well as in this instance a political judgment, because the one phrase that I haven't heard over the last couple of days is something we used to use all the time when I was sitting judge which is, the appearance of impropriety. When...

KING: Letter of spirit.

SHEINDLIN: When you have a position of authority, that is supposed to make you a hero -- supposed to make you someone who is revered almost, even if something isn't wrong, the appearance of impropriety is something that just supposed to avoid.

KING: How is this going look? Right? Is that the term you ask yourself?

SHEINDLIN: How is this going play out? You know, there are -- I don't know how many -- let's say there are 600,000 people in prisons all over the country -- I don't know -- you know, and, how would it look if the small percentage of the ones that I intend to commute -- grand pardons -- as a result of my presidential power; one is my brother. What special gift does he have? Other than the fact that he is related to me? Nothing. OK, so we give you a brother. But if at least two of them are people whose family relatives, cadre, or whatever have been substantial political contributors to your party, to your campaign, to your library, what is the appearance of impropriety? And something he said in his op-ed piece that I did read, he said, something the phrase was "and it is in the best interests of the country."

Best interests of the United States, you know, all the other reasons as well, but -- but no, that he read from a case that talked about presidential pardons, and the phrase was "and that it is in best interests of the United States." Or least it is not -- an opposite to the best interests of the United States, and in this case, either he really thought that everybody was going to be asleep at the switch and just let it slide, or he didn't give a rat's behind, and said, I'm going to do it anyway.

KING: Which is arrogant.

SHEINDLIN: Which is arrogant. Or he said, I'm prepared to take the heat, because that is what I want to do and I have been Teflon for all these many years and it is going to continue to be blessed.

KING: He's driving the right-wing talk shows nuts, I guess. One thing comes as -- keeps doing. Columbus, Ohio, hello!

CALLER: Judge Judy, I think you are the best. No other court show can hold a candle to you, and I just wanted to know how long your show is going to be on the air?

SHEINDLIN: Interesting question.

KING: Paramount. How long are you signed for?

SHEINDLIN: I have another two years on my contract. And then we'll see. We'll see if I'm still having a good time, depends if I'm having a good time, Larry.

KING: Are you having a good time now?

SHEINDLIN: Now, I'm having a good time, and our ratings are wonderful. I think that you are always supposed leave any job that you are enjoying on top. Whether you are a judge, whether you are a surgeon, whether you are an entertainer on television, so I really have to see how I feel. I'm not committing.

KING: We will be right back with Judge Judy.


JUDGE JUDY: You have to give her back her money.


JUDGE JUDY: I'm going to tell you why.


JUDGE JUDY: I don't want to go into all the reasons she says your house was a mess. Evidently, this was a young lady who wanted, very badly, to rent a room in your house, because according to both of you, she ran out and said no, I want to give you the check today, because I really want this room.



JUDGE JUDY: So there had to be a very good reason why, after one day, of living with you, she said, this is not going to work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don't you ask her what the reason is?

JUDGE JUDY: If you want me to, Ms. Warner?


JUDGE JUDY: No, you don't have to ask her. I'll ask her. I ask the questions.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know I'm a good man.

JUDGE JUDY: You are not a good man, sir. A good man doesn't say to a woman, who apparently is more interested in him, than he is in her -- I'm going to take money from you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never said that, Your Honor.

JUDGE JUDY: But you did it. You didn't say it; you did it. You took $5,000 dollars from her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She loaned me $5,000.

JUDGE JUDY: Oh, good, there we go, judgment for a plaintiff in the amount of $5,000.


KING: Terre Haute, Indiana for Judge Judy -- her new book is out; the first one was a best-seller: "Win or Lose by How You Choose" and now the new one, "You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover." Terre Haute, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, Judy. Yes, I'm a 14-year-old fan of Judy, and in April, I met Jerry, and he had Judy sign a photo for me. She signed on it, "To Michael, my number one fan."

SHEINDLIN: Did I spell it right?

CALLER: Yes, you did. I'm very, very happy and I'm coming back to New York again, but I heard Jerry is not on "People's Court" anymore.

SHEINDLIN: No, he's finished. Finished.

KING: What's the question? CALLER: My question is, since you have such a strong character and are such an intelligent and independent person, would you ever consider running to be the first president -- female president of the United States in 2004?

SHEINDLIN: First of all, thank you for even thinking of me.

KING: I would say you would be a harsh candidate.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, I would be a hard sell.

KING: A hard tough sell.

SHEINDLIN: A hard tough sell.

KING: The debates would be interesting. Big tune-ins.

SHEINDLIN: I would be a hard tough sell, and, I think that you have to have a certain amount of tough hide that even I don't have in politics.

KING: You don't have?

SHEINDLIN: I don't have that kind of hide that I'm prepared to sit and listen to everyday, at least half the country, half the politicians in the country, half the commentators in country, trying to rip me new parts of my body.

KING: Fairfield, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, Judy.

I was wondering, when you're chastising the defendant, usually, sometimes the plaintiff, and they talk back to you, or, you know how they roll their eyes, do you have the power to fine them or...

SHEINDLIN: Unfortunately, not in the television courtroom and even as a sitting judge, you can't penalize somebody -- fine them, incarcerate them -- for rolling their eyes. If you notice, however, I have had very few instance in the five years that I have been doing this program where anybody acted out in front of me, in the courtroom so that I would have been able to hold them in contempt.

Outside the courtroom, they may have choice words, but in the courtroom before me, everybody is pretty respectful -- rolling their eyes is still not against the law. I think they are pretty respectful.

KING: By the way, Timothy McVeigh, wants his execution telecast. Should we?

SHEINDLIN: Somebody else asked me that question, Larry, and I'm really not sure. You know, I'm a proponent of capital punishment, I believe that it is -- may not...

KING: There's a movement against it that is growing. SHEINDLIN: I understand that, but, I still think they if you put it to vote you'd have a majority of people in this country voting for it. You would have...


SHEINDLIN: And if you are embarrassed of it, the reason you are not showing because you are embarrassed about it, that is a mistake. He wants his execution shown. For that reason alone, I probably wouldn't do it. For that reason alone, I probably wouldn't do it.

KING: Should we telecast executions?

SHEINDLIN: You know, Larry, I'm really not sure -- really not sure.

KING: The state is doing the killing.

SHEINDLIN: The state is doing the killing. I believe that if proponents perhaps, like myself, saw somebody put to death, perhaps, we would go to the other side. Certainly, the people on the other side are not coming over to our side. I think that if you could do it in a way that would ensure, ensure that only those informed adults would have an opportunity to view it -- why not? And I don't think that we have reached that stage yet where we could only -- where we could ensure only informed adults would watch.

KING: Back with our remaining -- she is amazing -- back with our remaining moments with Judge Judy after this.


JUDGE JUDY: Ms. Painter, you still had an outstanding balance due and owing to him of $820; is that correct? Trust me the math is right; I didn't use my brain, I used this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a bill of...

JUDGE JUDY: I'm speaking, answer my question!.


JUDGE JUDY: Perfect.




JUDGE JUDY: I'm going to tell you something, I think each of you is fudging just a bit.

VALDES: A bit? $5,000 is a bit?

JUDGE JUDY: Mr. Valdes, don't interrupt me, sir, I think you are a hot-head. I want to tell you -- I think you are a hot-head.

VALDES: Sorry.

JUDGE JUDY: Don't say it again. I always have the last word. Always.


KING: The mild mannered Judge Judy.

SHEINDLIN: I was mild.

KING: What do you make of Eminem? Up for a Grammy tomorrow. Freedom of speech. First Amendment.

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. We live in this country -- freedom of speech, First Amendment -- that doesn't mean you have to reward it. If what somebody says -- you know, um -- Hitler, freedom of speech? Yes, of course. The Ku Klux Klan wants to march, of course, but we don't have to give them a prize. We don't have to....

KING: Best March of the Year.

SHEINDLIN: We don't have to give them a prize. We don't have to acknowledge it. You can't stifle it, but as an artistic community, to acknowledge it, to me, is a tremendous mistake because I do believe that it is saying to young people, to people, this kind of hate speak is acceptable, and not only acceptable, but we are going to give you a prize!

People say, well, he really doesn't mean it, it's just words. It is not just words; they are hateful words of bigotry, and I don't think that we, as an artistic community should reward that. Period.

KING: How do you feel about Mayor Giuliani angry over a painting? Hanging in a museum?

SHEINDLIN: Well, what Giuliani says is that it -- it was horrendous; it was anti-Catholic, you can hang it. But the public don't have to pay for it. And since the -- since -- that museum was publicly funded, he said, I'm not going to pay for it. It is offensive. Listen, it is...

KING: Who decides offensive, and what's offensive to you may not be offensive to me and...

SHEINDLIN: Listen. What did the Supreme Court justice say? I may not know what it isn't, but I sure know what pornography is when I see it. You know what something is, if you have a picture of Christ with feces spread all over them, is that offensive? Yes. First Amendment? You want to do it? Fine.

I don't necessarily feel as if my tax dollar has to support showing it. You want -- you are the artist? You want to show it? Go rent yourself a museum. Rent yourself a studio. You want to come and show it? But if taxpayers say -- if taxpayers say this is really offensive to me, you can show an awful lot of stuff but I don't want to see that. Would you show it in a public school? Would you put it in the public school? If you are ashamed for your children to see it. If you would be embarrassed for your children to see it, why should the public have to pay for it?

KING: Quickly, you ever leave a court and say, I made the wrong decision?


KING: No. I knew you were going to say that. Check out our TV web site, and my own web site and send e-mail with questions, and comments, King.

And stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT." And don't forget Judge Judy's book, "You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover" -- another big hit for Judge Judy. A children's book that adults can read to kids.

And back tomorrow night with Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger. The couple got married on television, divorced, separated the next day, never consummated a marriage. They'll be together longer here than they have been together.

Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT," and good night.



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