CBS’s Rodriguez on Kilpatrick Scandal: 'Is Innuendo Evidence?'
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Khym Worthy, the prosecutor in the perjury case against Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and asked about sexually explicit text messages that proved Kilpatrick lied under oath about having an affair: "We know that in these thousands of text messages they talk about being madly in love and dreaming of spending days making love. But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
Worthy explained that there was vast amounts of other evidence in addition to the text messages and that there were other crimes involved. Rodriguez was incredulous: "Do you really believe someone would go so far to cover up an affair?"
Rodriguez also went on to portray Kilpatrick as the victim of selective prosecution when she asked Worthy: "And so what -- I mean, yesterday you spent 24 minutes when you made this announcement scolding the Mayor for lying. He faces 15 years in prison for perjury alone. Are you trying to make an example?"
After talking to Worthy about the case, Rodriguez talked to Kilpatrick’s defense attorney, Dan Webb, and began with: "You were listening to my interview with Ms. Worthy, so I'll just hear your response." Webb went on to accuse Worthy of selective prosecution, just as Rodriguez had done moments earlier. However, Rodriguez did offer some challenge to Webb’s statements:
But how do you explain the text messages? They are incriminating, and they do seem to imply that he lied about the affair...But sir, excuse me, it's not just about perjury, it's also about allegedly having officers who were investigating the affair fired, using $8.4 million to buy their silence. What about all those other charges?
Webb claimed that there was no falsehood in Kilpatrick’s statements: "...if you look at the actual testimony given in court, there is no question and answer given that was false..." Rodriguez did not follow up.
Despite this slanted coverage, at the top of the segment a report by correspondent Bianca Solorzano did at least identify Kilpatrick as a Democrat: "Well, Mayor Kilpatrick had been considered a rising star by the Democratic Party. He is the youngest Mayor ever elected in Detroit. And now he will be known for something else." This was in contrast to the CBS "Evening News," or the NBC or ABC evening newscasts, none of which included Kilpatrick’s party affiliation in their coverage.
Here is the full transcript of the "Early Show" segment:
HARRY SMITH: And Detroit's Mayor is scheduled to be arraigned in an alleged sex scandal this afternoon. Prosecutors say thousands of text messages were uncovered in exchanges between him and his alleged mistress. We're going to talk exclusively to the prosecutor and defense attorney.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Another politician is embroiled in a sex scandal this morning. The Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, is expected to be arraigned today on a laundry list of charges stemming from steamy text messages with an aide. CBS News Correspondent Bianca Solorzano is here with more. Good morning.
BIANCA SOLORZANO: Hi, good morning Maggie. Well, Mayor Kilpatrick had been considered a rising star by the Democratic Party. He is the youngest Mayor ever elected in Detroit. And now he will be known for something else.
KHYM WORTHY: The justice system was severely mocked and the public trust trampled on.
SOLORZANO: 37-year-old Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, face charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
KWAME KILPATRICK: I'm deeply disappointed in the prosecutor's decision. I can't say that I am surprised, however. This has been a very flawed process from the very beginning.
SOLORZANO: The indictment says the pair lied under oath during a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by two Detroit police officers. They accused the Mayor of firing them after they investigated whether he used his security detail to cover up his extramarital affairs.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You and Mayor Kilpatrick either romantically or intimately involved with each other?
CHRISTINE BEATTY: No.
KILPATRICK: I think it's absurd to assert that every woman that works with a man is a whore.
SOLORZANO: That testimony was questioned in January, when the Detroit Free Press published salacious text between the married Mayor and his married aide. '"Did you miss me, sexually? Hell yeah! You couldn't tell? I want some more." The indictment further says the Mayor used taxpayer dollars to keep these texts from going public by agreeing to settle the lawsuit for more than $8 million.
KILPATRICK: This is merely the first step.
SOLORZANO: Kilpatrick says he'll fight the charges and has no plans to step down. Kilpatrick will be arraigned this afternoon thus beginning what could be the beginning of a long legal battle. This once rising star now has a new distinction. He is the first sitting Mayor of Detroit charged with a crime, and he could end up behind bars for decades. Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: Bianca Solorzano, thank you. Joining us now from Detroit is Wayne County Prosecutor, Khym Worthy. Good morning Ms. Worthy.
KHYM WORHTY: Good morning. How are you?
RODRIGUEZ: Fine, thank you. This is very 21st Century, the tale of the text messages, what do you believe these now infamous messages prove?
WORTHY: Well, they're certainly a part of our evidence, they're not the totality of our evidence, and they prove, and will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Beatty and Mayor Kilpatrick committed perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and misconduct in office.
RODRIGUEZ: We know that in these thousands of text messages they talk about being madly in love and dreaming of spending days making love. But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?
WORTHY: Well again, we don't just have the messages. We have witnesses. We have other evidence. We have a whole plethora of things going on. We have over 40,000 documents, and it's not just the texting going on. And also, it's not just the sex issues either. There are many other issues that are composed in this entire matter.
RODRIGUEZ: Yes, we know they're accused of having an affair, having officers who were investigating it fired, using 8.4 million dollars of taxpayer money to buy their silence and then lying about all this under oath.
WORTHY: That's right.
RODRIGUEZ: Do you really believe someone would go so far to cover up an affair?
WORHTY: Well, apparently they did in this case.
RODRIGUEZ: And so what -- I mean, yesterday you spent 24 minutes when you made this announcement scolding the Mayor for lying. He faces 15 years in prison for perjury alone. Are you trying to make an example?
WORTHY: Well, I wouldn't characterize it as scolding. I would characterize it as important -- pointing out how important the perjury charge is, pointing out how important that truthful witnesses are in the criminal justice system, pointing out how important it is not to breach the public trust, pointing out how important it is not to ruin people's lives who are simply doing their jobs and doing a good job at it, and pointing out how important it is not to mock the justice system.
RODRIGUEZ: And what will you ask the judge for at the arraignment today?
WORTHY: Again, we're probably going to leave it up to the judge. We haven't discussed that in full detail. We'll discuss that first thing this morning. I suspect that he'll get a personal bond.
RODRIGUEZ: Alright. Wayne County Prosecutor, Khym Worthy, thank you.
WORTHY: Thank you.
RODRIGUEZ: And joining us also exclusively is Dan Webb, Mayor Kilpatrick's attorney. Good morning, sir.
DAN WEBB: Good morning.
RODRIGUEZ: You were listening to my interview with Ms. Worthy, so I'll just hear your response.
WEBB: Well, my response is we're going to court today. And the Mayor's is going to enter a plea of not guilty to the charges. And one of the issues that will get raised early on in the case is it's almost unheard of in this country for a prosecutor to take testimony in a civil case and then bring perjury charges. Perjury charges are almost exclusively reserved for criminal cases. And prosecutors have great discretion in who they charge. One of the legal issues in the case is called selective prosecution. Prosecutors are not allowed just to use their discretion to make an example of someone. They're supposed to apply the law across the board equally and fair to all people. I noticed when you asked the prosecutor a question about whether the Mayor is being made an example of, she did not deny that, and that's one of the issues in the case. There's never been a case that I know of in the history of the state of Michigan where anyone's been charged with the crime of perjury, from a civil case. And so that issue's going to be raised.
RODRIGUEZ: But how do you explain the text messages? They are incriminating, and they do seem to imply that he lied about the affair.
WEBB: Well, we'll deal with that in court, although I might point out to you it is not a crime in this country to have a personal relationship. The crime charged is perjury, and under the law, the reason civil cases don't get elevated to perjury is because if you look at the actual questions and answers that were given by the mayor --
RODRIGUEZ: But sir, excuse me, it's not just about perjury, it's also about allegedly having officers who were investigating the affair fired, using $8.4 million to buy their silence. What about all those other charges?
WEBB: Actually, all the charges. If you look at all the -- just read the indictment, all the charges are related to how this civil case was carried out and conducted. Every single charge relates to that. And all I'm pointing out is that if you look at the actual testimony given in court, there is no question and answer given that was false, and I -- we'll let a jury decide this. I'm not going to decide it. But it's my belief it's a very weak prosecutor's case. The mayor has a very strong defense, and we'll let a jury decide this.
RODRIGUEZ: Alright. Dan Webb, thank you very much for your time.
WEBB: Sure, thank you.