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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Interview With Daughter of Saddam Hussein; Interview With Daughter of Strom Thurmond
Aired December 18, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Child molestation charges are filed against Michael Jackson.
A verdict in the second sniper trial. What's next for Lee Boyd Malvo?
Plus, a CNN exclusive. In her first TV interview since her father's capture, Saddam Hussein's daughter speaks out.
And, after nearly eight decades of silence, the biracial daughter of Strom Thurmond steps forward. We'll be talking with Essie Mae Washington-Williams.
Good evening. Welcome. Glad to have you with us tonight.
All that ahead, but, first, here are some of the headlines you need to know at this hour.
A federal appeals court says suspected al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla must be released from military custody. Padilla has been held for a year and a half, suspected of, but not charged with plotting to set off a radioactive bomb. The court says the government is not allowed to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely without charges.
In Seattle, the so-called Green River killer has been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Gary Leon Ridgway had admitted killing 48 women. Later, we're going to hear some of the emotional statements in court today from families of Ridgway's victims.
And another day off tomorrow for 20,000 schoolchildren in Ohio after another scare over gunfire around the city of Columbus. Classes were canceled after authorities found dents from bullets in two school buses. Investigators have linked a total of 16 shootings along I-270, near Columbus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL JACKSON: There is absolutely no way that we will stand for this besmirching of this man with these horrible, horrible allegations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Strong words tonight from Mark Geragos on the case against his client Michael Jackson, laid out today charge by charge. In all, the singer was hit with nine counts alleging he molested a young boy at his Neverland Ranch. Officials say the boy will testify against Jackson.
Joining us from Los Angeles is defense attorney Dana Cole. Here in the studio with me tonight, we are joined by CNN senior legal analyst and regular contributor Jeffrey Toobin.
Welcome to both of you.
ZAHN: Jeffrey, I'm going to start with you first to help outline the charges for us this evening, seven counts of lewd acts upon a child, two counts of administration an intoxicating agent. Do the number of charges we're looking at here on the screen signify anything? Does this strengthen the case?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Not especially. Today was a bad day for Michael Jackson, but it could have been a lot worse.
TOOBIN: One accuser only. Remember, they asked for other people to come forward. Apparently, no one credible did.
The dates are very important. The dates of the charges go from February 7 to March 20. From February 14 to 27th, the Los Angeles County child investigation authorities did their own investigation, where this accuser and his mother said nothing happened. The prosecution is going to have to deal with the fact that this kid is on record saying nothing happened.
Yes, it's certainly bad. And these are very serious charges. But considering all the possibilities, considering all the talk about other people and -- this is not the worst set of charges that Michael Jackson could face.
ZAHN: But, Dana, we also have to address the issue of some of the special allegations in this. If you look up at the screen, it will probably help us all better understand that, that the first seven counts are serious felonies and that Jackson had substantial sexual contact with the boy they're referring to as John Doe. Why are these special allegations important, under California law?
DANA COLE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, they're really enhancements. And they can add some additional prison time if he's ever convicted.
And it just makes it look a little worse for Jackson, in that he's plying the kid with alcohol and he's showing the kid pornographic tapes, if you believe what the prosecution is saying. And that's a big if.
ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about the prosecutor, Jeffrey, who's taken a lot of heat for the delay in filing charges. Let's listen to some of what he has had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM SNEDDON, SANTA BARBARA PROSECUTOR: I know of no prosecutor that I have ever met who would issue an arrest warrant for an individual hoping that they would uncover some evidence that would justify the filing of criminal charges later. And I want to make it clear to all of you here today, that was never, never, never the intent of our office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So what happens with the pace of the trial from here on?
TOOBIN: Pretty slow. I mean, there will be a preliminary hearing, assuming that they don't go to a grand jury. I assume they will -- that, when Jackson is arraigned on January 16, they'll set an initial day for a preliminary hearing, probably in a month or two, although that may well be delayed.
My guess, knowing that California is the slowest state in the Union when it comes to bringing cases to trial, I think late 2004 is a reasonable estimate for a trial in this case.
ZAHN: And, Dana, let's quickly review what defense attorney Mark Geragos had to say shortly after these charges were formally filed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: What we have here is an intersection between a shakedown, somebody who's looking for money, with somebody, an investigation that has got an ax to grind, because, otherwise, there would be no way, no way, that any self-respecting prosecutor would be going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So, Dana, would a potential jury buy this revenge theory?
COLE: Well, you sort of have dueling banjos, with what Sneddon is saying and then what Mark Geragos is saying.
Would a jury buy this? I think we have a long way to go. We don't know if there's any corroboration at all for any of these charges. And to me, in a case like this, that is key. Is there independent corroboration or is it merely a he said/he said type of case? If it's the latter, then I don't care what DA Sneddon says. It's a weak case and it is going to be difficult to prove, particularly because there is a substantial financial motive for this.
After all, this kid knows -- or at least his family knows -- that a previous kid received up to $20 million for making a similar allegation. And that's a strong motive to fabricate.
ZAHN: We're going to quickly move on to the Lee Boyd Malvo case. A verdict in. Look up at the screen. He was found guilty of terrorism, guilty of capital murder -- not this guy, but the graphic will bear this out -- guilty of using a gun to commit a felony. TOOBIN: Capital murder maybe, but not terrorism.
ZAHN: Were you at all surprised by this verdict?
TOOBIN: Not in the least. This was close to a slam dunk. The evidence was so overwhelming. This car was a murder machine.
Plus, Malvo, unlike Muhammad, confessed to the very murder he was charged with. This was a virtual certain of conviction in this case.
ZAHN: Jeffrey Toobin, Dana Cole in Los Angeles, our thanks.
COLE: Thank you.
ZAHN: Five years later, we're going to look back at the impeachment scandal of former President Clinton. Remember Paula Jones? Well, her sexual harassment case against Clinton ignited the investigation. We'll be talking with her live.
Also, the biracial daughter of Strom Thurmond. That would be Paula Jones. Essie Mae should be coming up here shortly. She talks in a very poignant way about what it was like to hold on to her secret for almost eight decades.
And an exclusive interview -- I hope you're going to see her this time -- with the daughter of Saddam Hussein. She has much to say about her father. That would be Essie Mae. But, anyway, we do have an exclusive with Saddam's daughter. There she is. And she talks a little bit about why she believes he should not be tried in Iraq.
ZAHN: Saddam Hussein will get the best lawyers money can buy. That is the promise from the dictator's oldest daughter.
CNN's Rym Brahimi spoke with an emotional Raghad Hussein in her first on-camera interview since her father's capture.
RAGHAD HUSSEIN, DAUGHTER OF SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): I sat on the floor and began to cry. My daughter began to comfort me and hug me. But it was really horrific, painful and very cruel. It wounded me very deeply.
RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You thought he may have been drugged. Some people and some newspapers have actually picked that up and say that there is the belief that he may have been drugged as he was captured, that those pictures show a drugged man. The coalition authority say, no, that's not the case. Why did you think he was drugged? HUSSEIN (through translator): Anyone with insight could tell from the first instance that my father was not fully conscious. As a daughter, I told them from the start, my father is drugged. I am 100 percent convinced.
Until this moment, I read a lot of analysis in the papers which indicate other things, but I am convinced that my father was drugged.
BRAHIMI: Do you think he wouldn't get a fair trial if he were in Iraq?
HUSSEIN (through translator): Of course I don't believe he'll receive a fair trial, because it will be conducted by an unrecognized party. The interim government is not recognized internationally, nor in the Arab world. It has not been recognized by anyone. So by what right will the trial proceed?
I want a fair trial until international supervision. And we have a right, as his daughters, to appoint an attorney to defend him. And this is a legitimate right for any human being.
BRAHIMI: It must have been difficult. You and your sister, who is also here in Jordan, you're here with your children. How are they dealing with it? It must have been difficult for them to see all this, to be exposed to this -- these images on TV. How are they dealing with it? And what are you telling them?
HUSSEIN (through translator): The way the Iraqi president appeared on TV was a very painful sight, primarily for us, as his children and grandchildren. But, at the same time, it was a painful sight for each and every Arab, because the aim of releasing such images was to break the spirit of Arabs.
BRAHIMI: How do you see the future in Iraq? Do you think there is a chance for some sort of reconciliation to take place there?
HUSSEIN (through translator): I hope they will achieve peace and security and that they would enjoy a future far better than the situation they are in at the moment. From what I see on TV on a daily basis, the situation is bad and getting worse every day.
BRAHIMI: Now, Paula, you can see, this is a woman who has been following the news very closely in the past three months, since she's arrived in Jordan. She has also very gradually been accepting this reality of the capture of her father, as she's been accepting slowly a lot of realities, things that she didn't maybe know about. She's discovering a lot of things.
But that said, she is, of course, staying far away from judging her father. She's very much keen -- and she said as much after the interview. She said: I just feel I have a duty toward my father. That's all it's about. I wasn't involved in anything and I don't want to be involved in anything. I have nothing to do with politics. And she was very keen to say: You know, listen, all I want now is to lead a normal life. And, sure, I have a duty to my father, because he's my father. And, interestingly enough, she actually began, before answering any of one of my questions, by quoting a verse from the Koran that mentioned the respect that people owe to their fathers and their parents in general -- Paula.
ZAHN: Well, it's certainly become increasingly tough for her to distance herself from the judgment of her father.
Thank you, Rym Brahimi.
The biracial daughter of Strom Thurmond, she kept their family tie a secret for decades, until now. We're going to be speaking with Essie Mae Williams.
As her lawyer, William Ginsburg, was always by Monica Lewinsky' s side, what was it like to be in the spotlight during the impeachment scandal? William Ginsburg joins us five years after the impeachment of President Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIE MAE WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS, DAUGHTER OF STROM THURMOND: I was born in Aiken, South Carolina on October 12, 1925. My father's name was James Strom Thurmond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Essie Mae Washington-Williams says that was the moment she felt completely free, when she let the world know who she was, the child of a powerful senator who was once a strict segregationist.
Today, I asked her if she ever talked with her father about the right time to go public with her true identity.
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: We never discussed that. He probably thought I would never go public. And, of course, I didn't during the time he was living, for obvious reasons, as far as his career was concerned.
ZAHN: What were you worried might happen to him?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: Well, it probably would have been the end of his career, because this has been going on since I first met him in 1941. And after I met him, he became a governor and he became a senator. And I don't think that would have happened if I, during those early years, had said anything, because it was no advantage to me and certainly it was no advantage to him.
ZAHN: Do you wish you had been able to tell the truth earlier?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: Well, not really.
It never bothered me too much. We didn't discuss anything about whether I should talk about it or anything. There were some people who had tried to contact me, even when I was at college, but I refused to talk with them, because I didn't want to talk about it. I really didn't want people to know about it.
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: Well, because he was not my -- well, he's my father, but it was an illegitimate after. And the people that I knew and grew up with thought that my aunt and uncle, who had raised me, they thought they were my parents. That's why I took their name, Washington. And I didn't want them to know about him.
ZAHN: Did you love your father?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: I grew to love him. When I first met him, I was about 16. He was always very kind to me, very helpful, and gave me lots of counseling. And over the years, I grew to love him, because I met him in 1941. And we kept in touch all of that time.
ZAHN: You saw your father on the campaign trail. You were familiar with some of the positions he took on segregation. How did you reconcile the political views he held with the love you had for him?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: I did talk with him about that in the early years, when he was governor. And we discussed it. And I wanted to know why he was taking that stand, because it was all new to me, because, when I first met him, he was not in politics. All this racism and segregation came about after he had become a politician.
ZAHN: Do you think he was a hypocrite?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: I don't consider him a hypocrite, because within his heart, the many things that he had done for people, he was very sincere about that.
ZAHN: Do you think he was a racist?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: Not really, because it did not take him very long to change once it was -- integration took place, because, prior to that, it would have been unpopular for him to have taken a stand for integration at that time. But in the '70s, when he started to change, everything had changed, and he moved right into it with no problem, because I think this was more of how he really felt.
ZAHN: A lot is being made of the fact that your father took care of you financially.
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: Well, he was very helpful.
ZAHN: He was helpful. And there are people out there who construe that as his buying your silence. Is that true?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: That is not true. No.
We did not discuss any kind of a bond as far as my keeping quiet. That was never discussed. It was something that I did on my own, because, as I said before, I didn't really want people to know about it. So I had no reason to talk about it.
ZAHN: Do you think he was afraid, though, even though you never talked about it, that you might ultimately tell your story?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: If he did, he didn't indicate it to me in any way. Now, the only thing relative to that, when people had tried to call me and ask questions -- because the rumor was around, especially in his hometown. And some of the students I had gone to school with, once he has made his visit to the college to see the president and I had talked with him during that time, the rumor was all over the campus.
So then the people in Orangeburg started to know. So, over the years, especially in the black community, people knew about that. They, however, didn't talk too much about it, but they knew.
ZAHN: Do you feel like a burden has been lifted?
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: Oh, yes, yes. I feel I don't have to be concerned with this anymore. And it is a feeling of liberty. So I'm glad to get it out.
ZAHN: Well, we're glad to have you join us here tonight. We wish you the happiest of holidays. And thank you for sharing your story with us.
ZAHN: Merry Christmas.
WASHINGTON-WILLIAMS: Thank you.
ZAHN: Five years later, the players in the impeachment scandal, Paula Jones and Lewinsky lawyer William Ginsburg, join us live for a look back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BILL MCCOLLUM (R), FLORIDA: The facts are cleared that the president lied about having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, even under his understanding of the definition of the Jones case, if you believe Monica.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: He was one of the prosecutors who tried to bring down the president. Would he do it all again? An interview with Bill McCollum.
And tomorrow night, we'll be taking with architect Daniel Libeskind on the day of the unveiling of the design for the building that will replace the World Trade Centers.
ZAHN: Paula Jones, whose lawsuit was a key part of the impeachment of President Clinton five years ago tomorrow, she will join us a moment, as we look back on those historic events that gripped the nation.
First, though, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now at the bottom of the hour.
Michael Jackson faces seven counts of child molestation tonight. Authorities filed formal charges against him today. They also include two counts of administering an intoxicating agent for the purpose of molesting a child. A source tells CNN, that was wine. Jackson's lawyer says the pop star is absolutely innocent.
The Bush administration is frowning on Israel's latest move in the peace process. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed to sever Israel's links with the Palestinians if they fail to uphold their end of the U.S.-backed road map for peace. The White House says the U.S. would oppose unilateral steps that would block the path to negotiations.
NBA star Alonzo Mourning is expected to have a kidney transplant tomorrow. The AP -- that would be the Associated Press -- Says Mourning will receive a kidney from an unidentified family member. He retired less than a month ago because of worsening kidney disease.
On December 19, 1998, the House voted to impeach President Clinton. Tonight, we look back on those events with the people who were on the inside in the White House and in Congress.
Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley takes us through the events that nearly destroyed a presidency.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): December 17, 1997, an unnoticed subpoena to a former White House intern is served by lawyers representing Paula Jones. Jones is suing the president for sexual harassment. January 19th, there is an Internet whisper, something about the president and an intern. The whispers become headlines.
January 26, 1998:
CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.
CROWLEY: Washington now moves in parallel universes. The wheels of government churn in one.
CLINTON: America's first lady.
CROWLEY: Accusations, grand jury testimony, secret tapes and a semen-stained blue dress roil in the other. Well into the summer, that universe is dominated by independent counsel Ken Starr, Lewinsky friend Linda Tripp and an endless cast of lawyers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over and over and over again.
CROWLEY: August 6, protected by an immunity agreement, Lewinsky testifies before the grand jury. August 17, Bill Clinton becomes the first president to testify before a grand jury investigating his conduct.
CLINTON: It depends upon what the meaning of the word is is.
CROWLEY: He takes a similar line with the public later that day.
CLINTON: In a deposition in January, I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information.
Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.
CROWLEY: September 9: Starr sends his report to Capitol Hill. November 13: the House wrestles with the impeachment issue and the president settles the Jones case, $860,000, no apology.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 228, the nays are 206, article I is adopted.
CROWLEY: It is December 19th the house impeaches the president of the United States on two counts, lying under oath, obstruction of justice. It would be another two months into the new year before the Senate renders a verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is therefore ordered and adjudged that the said William Jefferson Clinton be and hereby is acquitted of the charges in the said articles.
CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
ZAHN: As it turns out Paula Jones may have triggered the scandal when she sued President Clinton for sexual harassment. As we have seen, it was her case that led to the Lewinsky investigation, which ultimately led to the president's impeachment.
Paula Jones, joins us now from little rock. Welcome, Paula.
PAULA JONES, SUED PRESIDENT CLINTON FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Hi.
ZAHN: Hi, Paula. When you look back at this period of time, last five years, do you have any regrets that you filed this suit in the first place?
JONES: Not really. I regret what happened to me as far as the procedures and people talking about me and stuff like that, but I don't regret anything that I did, because what I said was the truth. And I think that it did bring to light what he did and who he is as a person.
ZAHN: So you don't regret what happened to the president or the country?
JONES: No, because I didn't cause that. Bill Clinton caused that. And, you know, everything's turned out just fine it seems like. So, it didn't do a whole lot of harm I guess, to the country.
ZAHN: Let me ask you this, did you ever think for a second what you alleged to have happened in that hotel room would eventually lead to the impeachment of the president?
JONES: Oh, no, I never thought that far ahead at all. I was just out there to try to get my name and reputation back. And -- because it was said in the article that I had consensual sexual relationship with him, which I knew I did not. And that was what I set out to do, and it just kind of just got bigger and bigger and bigger. And for that, I do regret how big it did get as far as, you know, other people jumping in on the bandwagon and using me for their own agendas and stuff like that. But as far as me coming out, I don't regret that at all.
ZAHN: When you talk about being used, was there pressure put on you to file the suit?
JONES: To some extent there were certain people who I thought were being there as a support system, you know, because I was -- I was scared. I really didn't know what was going to happen. I mean, we're talking about the president here and I was scared for my family's lives and for my life. And these people came forward to help me feel comfortable about going ahead and going forward. Well, In the end, and as it went by, I realized that a lot of those people were using me for their own agendas to get at Bill Clinton for other reasons.
ZAHN: So you acknowledge tonight then those people that came to assist you in fact had personal vendettas against the president?
JONES: I believe some of them did. Some of them did, I know, but some of them were truly my friends that, you know, were there to support me. So I think it was, you know, pretty much half and half or whatever, but some of them did, yes.
ZAHN: And those that hated the president for some reason, were you able to figure out what drove them, what their motivation what?
What they were so mad at?
JONES: I guess because he was a Democrat and liberal and you know, against their issues and stuff like that, which I am so apolitical, I really don't care one way or another. And I was at that point in time. As it grew bigger and bigger, and it kept going on for year after year, then I realized it was about the, you know, the politics.
ZAHN: Paula, something you said earlier on in the interview when you said part of your motivation for filing the suit was to clear up your name, yet you became such a lightning rod for criticism.
ZAHN: Do you think in the end that your reputation is more damaged now than it was before you even filed the suit?
JONES: No. I really don't. You know, just like I said, I've got a wonderful life right now. As a matter of fact, everybody has been kind to me and nice to me. And I think it's over with, you know and I'm thankful that it's over with and I'm on with my life now. And I don't think that's damaged me at all, actually.
ZAHN: Well, we appreciate you spending time with us this evening. Paula Jones, thank you again for joining us.
Five years after impeachment the case against President Clinton, they are the men who pushed hard to try the president. We're going to talk with one of the main players behind it.
And then Betty Currie, President Clintons secretary, was the link between Monica Lewinsky and the former president.
Where is she now?
ZAHN: When Monica Lewinsky needed a lawyer, she turned to William Ginsburg, a Washington outsider who shared the spot light with the intern, at times some would say even overshadowing her, but the fame was fleeting. Lewinsky removed him as her lawyer, and he's remained out of the public eye since them. William Ginsburg joins us now from Las Vegas.
Good evening sir. Thanks so much for joining us.
WILLIAM GINSBURG, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR LEWINSKY: Good evening, Paula.
ZAHN: Do you ever regret representing Monica Lewinsky?
GINSBURG: Absolutely not. I think it was necessary. I think the constitutional challenge was something that had to be handled, and I'm pleased I could have played a part.
ZAHN: Were you prepared for what it turned into?
GINSBURG: No, I don't think anybody could be prepared, whether they lived in the Beltway or outside. The maelstrom of press attention, fireworks, international attention was more than most people could handle, certainly me.
ZAHN: Well, at one point, you actually told a reporter after you gotten a tremendous amount of attention, quote, "I am the most famous man in the world." Shortly after that, critics were beating you up as being air hog, being a megalomaniac.
How do you think you dealt with that?
GINSBURG: First of all, the statement was taken out of context. I was being facetious in response to somebody's remark, but I certainly dealt with it as well as I could with the attention that was foisted on me. It was a terrible experience. And it taught me something about the cybernetic media society that we live in. The media has become a fourth arm of government, and it is definitely a factor in everything we do. Truth is fashioned by the media, and falsehood is fashioned by the media, and no one knows which is true and what is false.
ZAHN: Well, let me ask you this, I know through the process you ended up going into therapy.
What did you learn about what you had endured and did it help?
GINSBURG: Well, everybody who comes back from a maelstrom, whether wartime or Washington, needs to get back to reality and get his feet on the ground. What I learned was we came close as a nation to putting so much power in the hands of one man that we were almost, and people don't realize this, we were almost in constitutional crisis. What I also learned is that the media cannot let a story simmer. The media, even when nothing is happening, must continue to press a story, and therefore, as I say, shape the outcome, regardless of the truth and the facts.
ZAHN: Well, I beg to differ with the conclusion you arrived at, but I certainly can't defend the reporting of everybody during the impeachment process.
outcome regardless of the truth and the facts.
ZAHN: Well, I beg to differ with the conclusion you arrived at, but I certainly can't defend the reporting of everybody during the impeachment process. Explain to us tonight what it was like for you behind the scenes with Monica Lewinsky and her family when you realized the extent to which she was going to be involved in this scandal.
GINSBURG: It was extremely difficult. It was extremely difficult because I was faced with the challenges not only of handling a client, which was always difficult in emotional straits, but I was also faced with a situation where the president of the United States was teetering, in where he wasn't telling the truth and dragging this thing on.
Plus, a determined, dogged individual like Ken Starr, no criticism of the man, but the office he held and the way he functioned within that office was very, very difficult. Kept me on my toes and challenged for the whole six months or more that I was involved.
ZAHN: If you were able to write the legacy story of this impeachment, share with us a bit of what you might have to say.
GINSBURG: Well, I think the main thing that I would stress is that the constitution was written by very brilliant men, mostly men, and that they knew what they were doing, and it remains one of the most valuable and one of the most enduring documents we have in the entire history of the world.
And I would say that anytime that Congress, who is charged with investigating high crimes and misdemeanors ever thinks again about delegating the responsibility to investigate what is essentially political, they ought to think twice. Anybody who has studied history knows that when you put too much power in one man who is able to breach the executive, the judicial and the legislative branches of government, that you are endangering democracy.
That's what I was afraid of most of all in this whole event, is that the democracy, which I have come to cherish, and I mean that sincerely -- I'm of Jewish heritage. Believe me, this country means something to me and my people -- and I don't want to lose a single ounce of the democracy we have.
ZAHN: William Ginsburg. Thank you so much for your perspective this evening.
GINSBURG: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LINDA TRIPP: I understand that there has been a great deal of speculation about just who I am and how I got here. Well, the answer is simple -- I'm you. I'm just like you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Linda Tripp, the woman who set the impeachment scandal into motion. Where is she now?
ZAHN: Time to hear from some folks who were close advisers to the Clintons. "Crossfire"'s Paul Begala advised the president during the impeachment trial, Sidney Blumenthal was a former presidential aide and author of "The Clinton Wars," and Lisa Caputo was Hillary Clinton's press secretary and remained close to her throughout the scandal. Welcome to all of you.
Sidney, I'm going to start with you this evening. You were alone in the Oval Office with the president when the impeachment vote came down. What did he say?
SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL, FORMER CLINTON AIDE: He told me that he was sincerely regretful about his personal behavior, but he also added that no amount of apologies on his part would really have stopped this, that the Republican leadership in the house was so determined to remove him, because they could never accept a progressive Democratic president, that they would do anything, that what they were concerned with, above all, was power.
ZAHN: Paul, you were one of the president's closest advisers, you worked hard on his reelection campaign. Let's review, for a moment, that now very famous denial the president made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: At that time, did you believe him?
PAUL BEGALA, HOST "CROSSFIRE": I did. I did. He said it with real vigor. You just saw again -- first off, it was none of my business, and I think probably would have been a better answer to say, it's none of your business either, America, but yes, I did. I think he said it with sufficient force and power that I did believe him.
ZAHN: So when the president ultimately admitted his inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky, did you feel betrayed?
BEGALA: Oh, yes. Oh, Paula, I've never written about this, because, you know, it was a very personal time. I felt betrayed. I was very, very angry. I thought for a long time -- I went on a long vacation, long for the White House, two weeks -- and I thought about quitting and then they ginned up the impeachment machine. Ironically, had the Republicans done nothing, the shame that he would have faced, President Clinton would have faced, would have been the proper punishment and a lot of people might have quit.
I felt like the constitution was under assault, and I look back on that now and it was the best decision I ever made in my life. I felt like I was serving my country and I think history's vindicated my decision to stay with him and to fight and beat back what I believe then, I think history's judged, too, then, an unconstitutional attempt to remove a president.
ZAHN: Lisa, were you mad at the president?
LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY/MRS. CLINTON: Oh, definitely. I mean, I, too, felt misled, deceived in so many ways and so disappointed and in a lot of respects, disillusioned.
I believed him, his wife believed him, and so many of us who had worked for him in the White House and who had remained friends of his believed him and a lot of us went out on the air, on television, and publicly defended him based on what he had said to each of us, both publicly and privately, and, you know, I think still to this day, I don't think I fully have gotten my head wrapped around it.
ZAHN: Describe what it was like for you to be with Mrs. Clinton when she arrived with the president on Martha's Vineyard after he admitted to her the nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
CAPUTO: Not a day I like to remember. Not a fond memory at all. There were a group of us up on Martha's Vineyard actually on vacation, a lot of former and current staff had gone up there just to vacation, and then the Clintons obviously had made their plans to come to the Vineyard. A group of us went out to the airport to greet them. It was a cold and rather frosty moment in time that I remember very well.
It was very sad. It was almost surreal. They came off the plane separately, the president had Buddy, the dog, and then they sort of greeted friends and other people who were up there who had been longtime friends of theirs, sort of talking to people in the crowd separately, and then left and spent most of their time on the Vineyard keeping to themselves and not really out and about, seeing friends or socializing, but rather, I think, working through their issues and spending time together as a family.
ZAHN: Give us a final thought on how you think the impact -- or how do you think the impeachment impacts the president's legacy. Sidney, you first.
BLUMENTHAL: I think there will always be a polarized opinion about what happened. And the country itself today, five years later, remains very polarized along the same lines.
ZAHN: Paul, your take?
BEGALA: I actually thinks it makes his accomplishments look all the more remarkable, Paula. I mean, we all know those accomplishments, on economy, crime, welfare, foreign policy, that he could do all of that while making a tremendous personal mistake, but one, frankly, that many of our presidents have made, and standing up to what I believe, then and do now, a right-wing assault actually makes me admire his talent as a president even more.
He's the most gifted public leader of my lifetime. I look back now and feel very honored that I had a chance to serve him. I don't support his personal misconduct, but for him to have been able to achieve that much under that much stress really is amazing.
ZAHN: Well, all of you were certainly a part of American history as it happened. Thank you for your time this evening.
And now we turn to another key player, one from the Republican side. Of all the voices on Capitol Hill calling for President Clinton's removal, few were as vocal as Bill McCollum. The former Florida congressman was chosen to be one of the prosecutors to make the case against the president. He joins us now from Orlando. Thanks so much for being with us.
Good to be with you, Paula.
ZAHN: Thank you. You must have heard some of what our panel had to say. They accused you of leading an assault on the U.S. constitution.
BILL MCCOLLUM (R), FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Well, most of us did not want, actually, to impeach the president, contrary to what others may think. It was a very difficult time for us. We listened to the evidence that was there, we spent hours and hours working on this in the judiciary committee before the impeachment occurred.
And interestingly enough, I came to the conclusion, very independent of all of the shrill partisan comments that were made during that time. The president had actually committed crimes by lying under oath in a court of law.
Because of that, because we thought he really was obstructing justice in the court proceedings that were corollary to this, not in what he said to the American public in television, but in court proceedings, we felt that this was a high crime and misdemeanor situation, in which it was our constitutional obligation, despite this difficulty, to go forward and press the charges, and press them even when we realized that it was unlikely that he would be convicted or removed from office.
And I'll never forget, Paula, the most poignant moment before the vote was when those moderates, those Republican moderates, who were not initially at all convinced, and very skeptical about whether the president should be impeached, came back to Washington after all the evidence had been gathered, and they came over one by one to the House annex where this data was and reviewed it on their own. And contrary to, again, those who think their arms were twisted, they were not.
ZAHN: All right. Well, what about what Sidney Blumenthal just said. I mean, he basically said when you looked at those moderate Republicans who were opposed to impeachment, they ultimately changed their vote because their financial backers were threatened.
MCCOLLUM: That's just nonsense.
ZAHN: They were coerced.
MCCOLLUM: That is absolutely not true. I can respect the other point of views that are out there, but I know the people involved, honorable people. Mike Castle, I think, was one and I know Nancy Johnson, still serving in Congress. They were convinced by the facts they saw when they went to the House annex.
ZAHN: Mr. McCollum, you gained a reputation for a willingness to delve into the sexual specifics of this case. Do you have any regrets about that?
MCCOLLUM: I don't have any regrets about my role in this impeachment trial. I'm very proud of it. I had the obligation on the floor of the Senate, when we opened this case and that's the only time that was ever discussed, to tell the senators, and that's who we were addressing, as the person, who presented the case for one hour, the basic thrust of why we were dealing with this and described to them the crime that was committed, what the lying was all about, what the perjury was there and I couldn't do it without being descriptive, at least minimally, because the crime was about lying under oath about certain matters that were sexual, but the crime was not the sexual act.
The crime was never the relationship with Monica Lewinsky. It never was the behavior in the White House at all. It was after the fact, it was in the courtroom, it was in the depositions. We felt it was a very serious matter.
ZAHN: We're going to have to leave it there this evening. Bill McCollum, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MCCOLLUM: Your welcome. My pleasure.
ZAHN: Coming up, we're going to wrap up our look at the impeachment, five years later, with a look at where some of the major players are today.
ZAHN: So much has happened to the nation in the five years since the impeachment of President Clinton. The Democrats lost the White House, the attacks on 9/11, war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Much has also happened on a personal level to those who were part of the impeachment process. Here's national correspondent Bruce Morton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Article one is adopted.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Five years ago, the House impeached the president. Where are they now? Bill Clinton may have the best gig. Big fees for speeches, and a chance to attend a jazz symposium with the great trumpet player, Wynton Marsalis. Clinton, a less than great tenor sax man play. His wife now the junior senator from New York does heavier lifting. Will she run for his old job?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Rodham Clinton!
MORTON: Got a reception like a rock star in Iowa where they had those caucuses. She says she won't run in '04, but '08 may be a better bet anyway. Betty Currie, the president's old secretary, the Democratic state senator in Maryland tried to name her to the board of trustees of a small college where she lives.
Governor Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, said no, so she's still in politics. Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor, whose investigation led to impeachment, was one of the lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court against the new campaign finance law recently. His side lost.
Linda Tripp, who told Starr about Monica Lewinsky survived a bout with breast cancer and told Larry King her hair grew back this color after chemotherapy and said she'll marry a childhood sweetheart who owns a Christmas store.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": And his full name is what?
LINDA TRIPP: Dieter Rausch. And he's a wonderful man and he was a wonderful child and he was my first kiss, actually.
MORTON: Monica was in a movie, marketed handbags, turned 30, and told "GQ" magazine, "If I were a guy and heard all those things about a girl, I don't know that I'd want to take her out. I want to shake them and say, come on, just like me. Do what I say."
And Socks was Grand Marshal in the Little Rock Jingle Jubilee Holiday parade last year (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's all we know. Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
ZAHN: That wraps it up for us this evening. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Tomorrow, the unveiling of the design for the new building on the side of the World Trade Center in New York. We'll be talking with architect Daniel Libeskind. "
"LARRY KING LIVE" is next with more on the Michael Jackson case. He'll be talking with Jackson's attorney, Mark Geragos and Jermaine Jackson. Again, thanks for joining us tonight. Good night.
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