OTR Interviews

Corzine's Legal Jeopardy: Will His Refusal to Take the Fifth on MF Global Before Congress Come Back to Haunt Him?

Did the former governor incriminate himself with his Congressional testimony on MF Global's collapse?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 8, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former Governor Jon Corzine doesn't take the 5th Amendment. He didn't assert his right to remain silent. Instead, he said he sees the importance of congressional oversight. But will that decision come back to haunt him and get him into legal trouble?

Our legal panel joins us. In San Francisco, former prosecutor Michael Cardoza, and here in Washington, defense attorneys Bernie Grimm and Ted Williams.

OK, Ted, he testified, didn't take the 5th. If he were as your client, would he have testified today?

TED WILLIAMS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, if he was my client, clearly, he would have not be up there to testify because not only is he facing charges as it pertains to these various investments, but he also could be looking at perjury if they can find that he lied to Congress.

Now, there is no doubt about it. Look, as far as I'm concerned, this was a CEO, and he's either one of two things, stuck on stupid or stuck on stupid. It is stupid to believe that $1.2 billion of these investors' money are gone and he doesn't know where it is? Give me a break!

VAN SUSTEREN: Bernie?

BERNIE GRIMM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I actually watched it live today, and I enjoyed the congresswoman's questions. They were about the most penetrating and studied ones by everyone there. But he was contrite. He was genuine. He said, The buck stops here.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does that mean, though! I mean, it's, like -- I mean, like, it's a little late for the buck stops here! Why didn't the buck stop here when they were trying to figure out where the money was ...?

GRIMM: Right. I mean...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... happening!

GRIMM: ... last week, Ted lost $5 in the FOX parking lot, and we spent hours looking for it. Now, we didn't find it, but we know where we last saw it. It was in the parking lot. But the bottom line is, he's not going to get indicted. People at this...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we don't know if there's even a crime. I mean -- I mean, let's -- I mean, the -- you -- let's say they were really rotten investments. He's incompetent. And then he didn't -- or he didn't police the company.

GRIMM: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's not a crime.

GRIMM: Yes, I mean, millions is probably could be negligence, but a billion? Somebody was committing a crime, I think.

VAN SUSTEREN: Michael Cardoza, what do you think?

MICHAEL CARDOZA, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, I'll tell you, if he were my client, no, he would not have testified. He reminds me of Roger Clemens. Remember Roger, when he voluntarily went before the Senate? And here we have Mr. Corzine going before voluntarily. Why?

Can't you just see the feds out there waiting? They are going to prosecute him and they're going to use some of the things that he said today to do that. Remember, he said things like, Well, I didn't intend for the money to go here or to be used in the European markets. Well, hey, pal, you're the CEO of this company. You're ultimately responsible.

And it's time the feds step up and go after the big guys and quit going after the little guys, like they did with the loan mortgage fraud. Remember, they didn't go after anybody big, they went after all the little guys. Go after the guys at top. They're responsible. They're the ones with the money.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's -- it's -- the amount of money, Bernie, is just so incredible! And as I watched, I mean, my first instinct when I saw it, I thought, oh, you know, he feels bad. And I thought, Wait a second. He feels bad? What about all the people who are truly suffering? And I thought to myself, Why in the world is he testifying?

But I thought for a second, you know, he almost got a hook into me. And I -- you know, frankly, I like Corzine. He was a guest of mine years ago at the White House correspondents dinner. But then the other thing I thought is that he has been to so many hearings himself. He has been sitting up there, asking the questions. He's sort of -- I mean, I think he's so -- you know, he was so playing this!

GRIMM: Yes. I mean, he's accustomed, and he's very sharp and just -- he's comfortable up there. But I think he was contrite, sincere, but he came right up to the line. He didn't admit fault.

VAN SUSTEREN: For what? For himself?

GRIMM: Certainly for himself, yes. When there's billion dollars around? I mean, his lawyer says, You go in front of Congress, you may open your mouth to the point where you end up in prison.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, if he had -- if he had made any sort of gesture that he would dislodge himself of -- I mean, I don't know how much money is left, but let's say dislodge himself of everything but $25 million, which is plenty of cash!

GRIMM: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, but he didn't -- I mean, there was no even, like -- and I know (INAUDIBLE) not legally responsible, but I would buy that more sort of, I take responsibility, stuff!

WILLIAMS: But Greta, this is no dumb man. He was a governor. He was a senator. He was the chairman of Goldman Sachs. He has knowledge of all these various schemes!

VAN SUSTEREN: And look at his friends! I mean, Gary Gensler, who is -- who's one of the people who leads the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who, you know, should be doing some level of oversight on this, he's an old -- an old guy from -- from Goldman Sachs with him!

WILLIAMS: Well, take it one step farther.

CARDOZA: Greta?

WILLIAMS: One of the executives there informed him that there was some shenanigans with the books, and guess what? I understand that executive left shortly thereafter, after getting into an argument, allegedly, with this guy, Corzine.

VAN SUSTEREN: Michael?

CARDOZA: Well, I tell you what. This guy is a smart guy. He's got a very strong personality. And that's what's made him so successful. But what's going to destroy him are those very things because he hasn't listened to his attorney, albeit they prepared him well for today, under the circumstances. But it's time he listens to the lawyers because, yes, he should help find that money, but there's another bucket that he has to look at, and that's that he's possibly going to be prosecuted. And in that vein, listen to your lawyers. You're not smarter than they are when it comes to these type of things.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think, you know, the American people out there are getting more sicker and sicker and sicker of these huge amount of moneys being transferred...

CARDOZA: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... around Wall Street and lining people's pockets, and the little guy gets totally ripped off! But I'm going to take the last word on that. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Nice to see all of you.