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Interview with Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland; "Don't Feel It's My Responsibility"; Secret Service Embarrassed by Prostitution Scandal; Hologram of Tupac Shakur Displayed at Concert; Jim Abbott's "Imperfect and Improbable Life"

Aired April 17, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: Outrage in Washington. Listen.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's pathetic. And I got to tell you, I can't tell you how disappointed I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Working for the government is a sacred trust which you have blown.


O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. GSA officials are bracing for another beating today. Now, there's talk of possible bribes, kickback scandals on top of that wasted cash. We're going to talk to the man who led the charge yesterday.

Also, Mitt Romney telling President Obama to start packing. One poll shows that maybe governor Romney has lots of catching up to do if he wants to win the White House. Another poll claiming exactly the opposite. We'll analyze both those polls.

And, don't blame the band in that tragic (INAUDIBLE) stage collapse. Remember this at the Indiana state fair? Just who was responsible for getting the fans out of there when deadly weather was hitting?

It's Tuesday, April 17th. STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. That's my playlist. That's Mary J. Blige. "No More Drama." I used to play that every morning like when I was feeding my kids breakfast, when I had a morning like everybody. Take it down a notch.

Lots to get to this morning with our panel. Marc Lamont Hill joins us. He's a professor at Columbia University.

No more drama, Marc.


O'BRIEN: John Fugelsang is with us. He's a political comedian.

And Will Cain is a columnist for

Nice to talk to you.

GSA, I think it's -- we're only going to uncover more. I've got to tell you. It's been two weeks and every day almost, there's more information about what comes out of that scandal. Now you hear testimony yesterday that talked about maybe kickbacks and bribes.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Man, it just gets worse and worse. You wonder how much more we know and how representative of it is what's going on in other government agencies? That I'd like to know.

HILL: The posturing, though, frustrates me. I totally get that this is a major scandal. We need to do something about it.

But to watch those interactions and we hear Republicans suddenly scream, oh my God, the outrage of excess-- if they haven't let corporate excess passed for decades. They need to link to the Obama administration implicitly. That also frustrates.

O'BRIEN: Well, it's not just Republicans on that. Elijah Cumming is with us this morning.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: Fair enough. But the fact is, that this money that was ripped out by GSA is 0.01 percent of the $6 billion Halliburton stole --


FUGELSANG: Hang on, Soledad. And the Pentagon. We were ripped out by these guys and this outrage was not there.

O'BRIEN: I think that's a flawed argument when you say, well, you know, this outrage is not as much as the other outrage. I think that this is just --

FUGELSANG: No. It is, but the difference is, that Halliburton had good case not to film it. And the fact these government clerks filmed their malfeasance is what's going to make it this a real scandal.

O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk a little bit more of this scandal. There are now four congressional hearings this week alone, looking into the agency's lavish spending. The man at the center of the scandal repeatedly yesterday refused to testify, took the Fifth. Former and current GSA staffers took a beating from the House oversight committee lawmakers. Take a look.


REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: We are here today to get answers to questions that should have been asked and answered long, long, long time ago.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Disregarded one of the most basic tenets of government service. It's not your money. It's the taxpayers' money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pathetic. And I got to tell you, I can't tell you how disappointed I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Working for the government is a sacred trust which you have blown. So instead of a team building exercise, you might want to investigate a trust building exercise, because you have lost it.


O'BRIEN: People were mad.

Joining us this morning, Congressman Elijah Cummings. He's a Democrat from Maryland. He's also the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee.

And I should say you were really, really mad yesterday. I want to play you a little bit of Jeff Neely who is at the center of all of this anger and this conversation yesterday, what he had to say when he was brought in testify. Listen.


JEFF NEELY, REGIONAL COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC BUILDINGS SERVICE, PACIFIC RIM REGION, GSA: I respectfully decline to answer based upon my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege. I respectfully decline to answer based upon Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege. I respectfully decline to answer based upon Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege. I respectfully decline to answer based upon Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege.


O'BRIEN: That kind of went on like that over and over again. No real surprise there. What did you want to hear from Jeff Neely, sir?

CUMMINGS: I wanted to know why it is that he was going around planning conferences costing almost a million dollars. Why he had his wife involved in that process and why he violated so many rules and regulations of the GSA.

I also wanted to know why it was that he was going around threatening people if they dared be a whistle-blower.

A lot of questions need to be answered. But I respect also as a lawyer his right to take the Fifth.

O'BRIEN: Some of that information, of course, came out in the testimony yesterday where people described him as a bully and there would be a price to pay if you crossed Jeff Neely in some capacity.

You want to ask a question?

CAIN: That's new to me by the way. I didn't know he was so threatening to these various people that threatened to whistle-blow.

O'BRIEN: You know what's interesting -- I'm sorry, go ahead, sir.

CUMMINGS: There was testimony with regard to that. The I.G. said that a number of witnesses told him that they were afraid of Mr. Neely. As a matter of fact, he had to make at least one lady a confidential informant because she was so fearful. That's part of the reason why a lot of these actions were allowed to go on as long as they did.

O'BRIEN: When I talked to Congressman Micah this morning, he said to me that there was testimony that is going to be talked about today that indicates there was a cover-up, that maybe a cover-up that extends all of the way to the White House. Is that something you got out of yesterday's hearing, sir?

CUMMINGS: I didn't get that out of -- I didn't hear one iota of evidence and I look for those kind of things as a lawyer. I didn't hear anything like that.

I think sometimes we have a tendency, Soledad, Republicans do, to come out with these headlines and inflame situations. And then when the testimony comes in, it shows that it's simply not accurate. I told Mr. Issa that I want our committee, that is the Government Reform Committee, to be just short of a federal courtroom where we listen to evidence and come to a conclusion based upon that evidence.

CAIN: Congressman, Will Cain. Where does the buck stop? Does it stop with Mr. Neely, or was there another level of bureaucratic and oversight where someone should have seen this going on and stopped Mr. Neely? The question is: where does the oversight begin and end?

CUMMINGS: Great question. I think the oversight should have ended and began in the administrator's office. But what happened was all of the testimony showed this was a very decentralized system where by the folks putting together this western conference basically had autonomy to deal the way they wanted to.

This has been going on for many, many years throughout many administrations. And so, basically the new temporary administrator is coming in. He has to clean up all of this mess and he will.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Elijah Cummings joining us this morning.

It looks like this may end up as an investigation into possible kickbacks and possible bribes as well.

CUMMINGS: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. I hope so.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. We're going to be following that as well. Thank you, sir. Appreciate your time this morning.

Let's get right to Zoraida. She's got the headlines for us.

Hey, Z. Good morning.


The Florida lawyer representing George Zimmerman says he's confident his request to have the judge in the Trayvon Martin case recused will be granted. Mark O'Mara filed that motion after she revealed that her husband works with an attorney who declined to represent Zimmerman and is now a CNN contributor, commenting on the case.

And that lawyer, Mark NeJame, spoke to Soledad our last hour. He says the situation is not unusual.


MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: She routinely recuses herself from any cases that we are involved with. This is a little bit of a twist because I'm in this position as a CNN legal analyst and her husband happens to run the personal injury division of our law firm. So, it's not the normal situation. I don't think she did anything that would be out of the ordinary for this extraordinary situation.


SAMBOLIN: George Zimmerman is being held on a second-degree murder charge in the Trayvon Martin shooting. A bail hearing is scheduled for Friday.

And now that Rick Santorum is just a memory, America's 2012 choice, Obama versus Romney is starting to take shape.

And so far, so good for the current White House occupant. A new CNN/ORC national poll of registered voters shows President Obama with a near double digit lead overall, 55 percent to Romney's 43 percent. The margin among women 16 points.

Still, Romney is convinced the race is his to win and he has a message for the president.




ROMNEY: That's what I would like to say. Obviously, we have a very different view. The president I'm sure wants another four years. But the first years didn't go so well and they've added trillions of dollars of debt because he doesn't understand the economy. He doesn't understand what it takes to get jobs for the American people.


SAMBOLIN: Well, there's a new poll shows them in a statistical heat, and Ann Romney weighed in during the ABC interview saying, "It's our turn now."

And you saw it here live about an hour ago. The space shuttle Discovery back in the air, but on the power of its own engine. The retired orbiter is making its final flight from Kennedy Space Center to the nation's capital.

On the back, you're seeing it there, of a 747 jumbo jet. The shuttle will be on display at the Smithsonian for all the world to see.

And do you remember when you were sitting in class and ask, when am I going to need this in real life? Well, here you go, a scientist from the University of California just got out of a $400 ticket for running a stop sign with a four-page paper he drafted in his own defense on the laws of physics. He argued that the police officer mistakenly thought he ran a stop sign because he was approximating his angular velocity rather than his linear velocity. Well, duh!


DMITRI KRIOUKO, UNIV. OF CALIF. PHYSICIST: I didn't use any knowledge beyond the elementary physics and mathematics. These angles of speeds that he was observing were indistinguishable.


SAMBOLIN: Totally makes sense.

The scientific approach worked and the judge dismissed the ticket.

O'BRIEN: My dad did that once. He's a scientist too. He had to prove that he wasn't speeding on his motorcycle. He used to drive a motorcycle.

SAMBOLIN: Did he win?

O'BRIEN: He did. Yes. I think actually anybody who just brings any kind of drama into the courtroom, clerks are like, got it. Dismissed. Can't take it.

All right, Zoraida. Thanks.

SAMBOLIN: You're welcome.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT is live from Russia. It's Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, currently under house arrest. But that doesn't him from launching his own TV show and his first guest could be more controversial than he is.

Also, Sugarland's lead singer says don't blame the band for the deadly stage collapse that happened in the Indiana state fair. We've got new details about that collapse that have been revealed and we'll tell you why the stage fell apart just a moment before the concert started.

You're watching STARTING POINT. Back to Marc's playlist, because Marc has the best music today. It's Amy Winehouse, "Tears Dry on Their Own."

HILL: Here we go. Great song.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. New testimony revealing the chaos and the confusion that led up to that stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair last year that killed seven people, injured dozens more. Several families and victims from the August incident have filed lawsuit against the country band contending it was negligent.

The victims' attorney released video testimony from Jennifer Nettles. She's Sugarland's lead singer, and she was asked if she felt responsible for the safety of her fans given the heavy equipment on the stage. Here's what she said.


JENNIFER NETTLES, SINGER, SUGARLAND: I don't feel it's my responsibility or my management's responsibility to evacuate the fans in the case of danger. Do I care about their safety? Absolutely.


O'BRIEN: We'll get more testimony today in the battle over just who is responsible for delaying or canceling a show when there's a threat of severe weather. Let's bring in Jacqui Jeras. She covered this collapse when it happened, because she was on the air. So, Jacqui, take us back that night. What was it weather-wise like?

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it was a rough night, and severe weather was expected. They knew that there was a risk that was involved. Severe thunderstorm watch had been issued about three or four hours before the storms ever came through, but it was kind of -- there was a line that was approaching from the west, and it was producing small hail, for the most part, a lot of lightning.

It wasn't at severe limits, but it was a tricky situation, Soledad. And this map behind me will show you is that the strongest of winds developed well ahead of the main line of thunderstorms and only a trained meteorologist would see this. This is what we call a gust front, and it was producing winds around 60 to 70 miles per hour.

The main line of storms were way back here, and this was what we were expecting the impact to be initially. Not this. And there's very little warning when a system like that begins to develop.

O'BRIEN: I want to play a little bit of an emergency call that came in. Let's listen to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All units, all units. Severe thunderstorm warning until 9:45 from Marion County. Use your best judgment and find shelter when needed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have they released fans from the grand stands yet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no information on that. I will check and advise.


O'BRIEN: Oh, it's so terrible, of course, because had they released the fans from the grandstand in a way, Jacqui, it's like the fans were the afterthought even if they didn't recognize that those gusty winds were what was going to be the big problem, that no one had really thought about, oh, my goodness, all these people are at a concert.

CAIN: You know, one thing Jacqui is saying right now, what we're talking about today is who's responsible, who's to blame. This is why you see a deposition tape of the Sugarland. But Jacqui, it sounds like is saying this was a hard thing to protect regardless of who's to blame. This wind front gust was not something anybody expected to be quite so serious.

JERAS: Right, but even if the storms weren't severe, there are risks when you're talking about lightning and hail with these people exposed in an open area, and a lot of steps were taken ahead of time that were actually done very correctly.

I mean, there were conversations between state fair officials and the National Weather Service more than three hours in advance and those calls were made on the hour each hour almost up until that point. The problem here is that the public was warned about it.

They were told how to evacuate about ten minutes before the stage collapsed, but nobody ever pulled the trigger. Nobody ever said actually to evacuate.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Everybody was kind of waiting for somebody else to take the responsibility. That deposition of the band members saying like we're the band. It's not necessarily our --

FUGELSANG: This frustrates me. Were the promoters of the state fair not insured?

O'BRIEN: Well, I think it's beyond the insurance question at this point, right? It's a responsibility question who -- because that's you know, regardless if you're insured or not, they're being sued by the victims' families. So, that's a big question I would imagine. I've heard that they were insured.

Jacqui, thank you. Appreciate it. What a tragedy. I remember seeing that. You know, and of course, now, in retrospect, you think high winds. Go inside. Don't do the concert, but it seems like everybody just wouldn't make the call.

FUGELSANG: It's awful, but I don't see how you can blame the artist.

MARC LAMONT HILL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Right. They always blame the artist, and it's never fair. Artists have no responsibility in this in general.

O'BRIEN: Well, we'll see, because it's all gone to court. They're doing a deposition.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, secret service sex scandal getting bigger and more embarrassing. Coming up, we're going to talk to a former secret service agent about how often does this really happen? Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

Also, he's got hot dog tongs and he is not afraid to use them to knock off this deli.


O'BRIEN: Attempted robbery where literally the victims were laughing.


O'BRIEN: About to head to work? Don't forger, you can check out our live blog at our website, -- I know. I know -- STARTINGPOINT. We leave you with Will Cain's playlist. It's Waylon Jennings.

HILL: Here we go.




O'BRIEN: All right. That's Drake. "Take Care." My playlist. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Noah "40" Shebib is a hip-hop producer, best known for his work with Drake, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys. He also had a side job determine to help educate people about multiple sclerosis, a disease that he found that he has when he was just 22 years old.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, talks to 40 in today's "Human Factor."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN DR. SANJAY GUPTA (voice-over): Noah Shebib doesn't miss a beat or a chance to perform. His life in showbiz began on TV as a child actor, including an episode of TV's "Goosebumps" and the classis film, "The Virgin Suicides"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Told you she had a capped tooth.

GUPTA: But by his teenage years, it was music that proved to be Noah's true calling.

NOAH "40" SHEBIB, PRODUCER: Everyone in the studio would fall asleep and wake up in the morning, and I'd still be sitting in front of the computer, so they started calling me 40 days and 40 nights because I didn't sleep.

GUPTA: As a go-to sound engineer in Toronto, 40 soon attracted the attention of hip-hop and comer, Drake. Now, a Grammy nominated recording artist.

SHEBIB: We work together for a couple days in the studio, I think. I charged him a little bit of money, and then, by the third day, we sort of agreed that we're going to take over the world together.

GUPTA: Then, a monumental setback. 40 found him celebrating his 22nd birthday in the hospital.

SHEBIB: I woke up one day and all of the temperature in my body was distorted. The sense of hot and cold and what that meant to my brain was very confusing.

GUPTA: The diagnosis, multiple sclerosis. Two years later, another setback for the Shebib Family. Noah's mom was also diagnosed with M.S., which is not directly inherited.

SHEBIB: I got this disease. I'm going to live with it. I'm going to win with it. And my story is going to be that much better when I get there.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, riding off into the sunset. "Discovery's" final voyage hitching a ride to Washington D.C. We're going to show you that breathtaking takeoff this morning.

And the secret service prostitution scandal is growing and it's going up the ladder. We're going to talk with a former agent about just how this could be more than an embarrassment, put a threat in security. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. That's off Zoraida's playlist. That's Marc Anthony. "I Need To Know." She's got a look at the headlines for us. Hey, Z. Good morning, again. ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Soledad.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Australian troops will be pulling out of Afghanistan ahead of schedule. Prime Minister Julia Gillard says some of the 1,500 Australian soldiers now stationed in Afghanistan could start coming home within a few months, and all of them could be out by the end of next year. That's 12 months earlier than originally planned.

Anders Breivik taking the stand at his murder trial in Norway and defending the massacre of 77 people last year. Breivik says, quote, "I would have done it again." He called it the most spectacular attack in Europe since World War II and necessary to save the country from multiculturalism.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange launches a new career today, TV host. Assange's new show is called "The World Tomorrow," and it debuts today on Russian television. His first interview Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. WikiLeaks says the program will feature an eclectic range of guests who are stamping their mark on the future including politicians, revolutionaries, artists, and visionaries. Assange is living in England while awaiting extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges.

Sara Ganim and her colleagues at the "Patriot News" in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania have has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Penn State sex abuse scandal. The 24-year-old Ganim also serves as a CNN contributor. She now becomes one of the youngest reporters ever to win journalism's top honor. Gamin broke the news that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was under investigation for alleged child sexual abuse. Sandusky faces more than 52 counts involving sexual acts with boys dating back to 1994. You go, Sara.

And the space shuttle Discovery airborne one last time, folks. This time the retired orbiter is along for the ride heading for its place in history on the back of a specially made jumbo jet. It will be on display at the Smithsonian's hangar outside Washington D.C.

We have to show you one more. Call it assault with a really goofy weapon. A man was arrested after attempting to hold up a convenience store in Fort Smith Arkansas with a pair of tongs that he grabbed from the hot dog tank. You can see him right there on surveillance camera chasing customers around with them. So someone called 911.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's trying to stab us in we don't give him money. He has like a silver tong thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attempted to rob the place but nobody took him serious enough to give him money because of his state of intoxication. (END VIDEO CLIP)


SAMBOLIN: Police say the man dropped the weapon and was waiting right there outside for police when they arrived. Police say he will be charged with two counts of attempted aggravated robbery despite an apology note that he scribbled to them, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: He said he was fighting with his wife and that he wanted to be taken to jail because that would maybe show everybody because they would miss him.


SAMBOLIN: How did that work for him?

O'BRIEN: That's a hot mess. That's the hot mess story of the morning. It didn't work out so well.


FUGELSANG: They'll love him in G block.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Zoraida.

This morning 11 Secret Service agent have had their security clearances yanked after the allegations they brought prostitutes back to their hotel in Colombia last week just one day before President Obama was arriving for the summit of Americas. The rendezvous which also involved 10 military personnel went sour when it seems like an agent refused to pay one of the women. According to the "Washington Post," Secret Service agents allegedly paid $60 for the prostitutes at the strip club and the dispute came over an additional $170 fee. And while prostitution is legal in parts of Columbia, it's still considered to be a breach of the agency's code of conduct. Congressman Peter King was talking to Wolf Blitzer and said this is a very dangerous offense.


REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: This is a serious, serious violation of everything the Secret Service stands for. What these 11 agents did put the potentially puts any president at risk, puts themselves at risk and leaves themselves open to blackmail and threats.


O'BRIEN: Dan Bongino is a former Secret Service agency serving under three presidential administrations, also a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. Which is more stressful, being a Secret Service agent or running for the U.S. Senate?

DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Running for the U.S. Senate up until this happened. This has been really terrible for me personally, professionally. I have very close relationships, very close, with almost everyone involved in this. It's just devastating.

O'BRIEN: What do you think happened? Is this one of those things when Secret Service agents go on the road, they frequent prostitutes, it happens, and in this particular case they got caught?

BONGINO: No.. I had been on 27 foreign trips with the president. Three of them I was the lead advance agent. I was the one in charge. I never, ever, dealt with a problem like this, never.

CAIN: Dan, we were joking about this earlier. This was a group purchase. Often 11 guys don't sit around and go I have an idea and everybody jumps in here. This is indicative of something that's happened before.

BONGINO: I can't say that it hasn't happened. Nobody has been caught or been stupid to be as open as they were. I can tell you it's not indicative of the behavior I saw in the Secret Service. That's not the company line. I don't own the Secret Service anything. They didn't ask me to come here. I left a year ago. I'm proud of what I did. I'm proud of men of the Secret Service. I would have taken a bullet for any president of any political persuasion for any reason because I believed in what I was doing and so do men and women there right now. It's disgraceful that these guys have ruined it for everyone. You are right. I can't say this has never happened. I don't think anybody can.

O'BRIEN: You know them personally. So tell us a little bit. I'm assuming you won't name names but if you want to go ahead. Tell me a little bit about them.

BONGINO: A lot of them are married. I know some of their wives and fathers. Parents are devastated. One of them told me he hasn't eaten in two days. He can't eat. He's embarrassed. You are proud of your son or daughter, not in this case daughters but Secret Service agent. He's had a very proud, noble career. You have pictures up all over the office. Then everyone comes in and says did you hear about that scandal is your kid involved? It's devastating. They took down everyone with them.

O'BRIEN: Is it tip of iceberg kind of problem? This will obviously go into an investigation. Are they going to find when they look back at a number of trips that in fact this was not this one particular time with 11 guys who just happened to get together and decide to go frequent a bunch of hookers?

BONGINO: I hope not. I can't vouch for every single trip. The ones I was on we had incidents why guys drank too much in a bar. They were always dealt with harshly. The Secret Service has their own investigative division.

FUGELSANG: is there an internal affairs department?

BONGINO: It's actually an interesting point. The Secret Service is not subject to OIG, office of inspector general, which everyone else is. They have their own office of professional responsibility. That puts extra pressure on them not to be extra harsh but to be extra thorough. When you get involved in an incident, anything close to this with the Secret Service, they don't want to lose that privilege. They are very, very thorough. Those guys were shipped home immediately. I don't think they slept. They went right to headquarters.

O'BRIEN: Explain the military connection. There were five military officers working in coordination with the Secret Service and now that number is now up to ten. What would the coordination be in terms of what job they were doing?

BONGINO: On any advance it's not just the Secret Service that coordinates the security. We call it the White House military office and White House communication agency is responsible for the president's communication to any military liaison on the road. The White House staff has a rather large contingent of White House staff that goes out. You have the trifecta, the Secret Service, White House staff, and the military, and there are a rather large components to each.

FUGELSANG: I want to do something unorthodox and look at the positive of this. When you think of screw-ups that could have happened with the Secret Service, no casualties and no injuries is benign. It's a disgrace and embarrassment. Is the positive side of this that we can expect to never hear any kind of scandal ever happening again with the Secret Service?

BONGINO: I think you can be pretty confident. Thank you for saying that. We have to keep it in perspective. The 150-year history of the Secret Service, they're not called the Secret Service for nothing. You never see them in the paper. You have seen scandals with other federal law enforcement agencies over and over. If this is the worst thing that happens in 150-year history absent the loss of a president, you know what, hats off to these guys -- not the guys involved in this trip. If this is the worst thing that happens, keep it in perspective.

MARC LAMONT HILL, COLUMBIA PROFESSOR: Given how you handle discipline, it's possible other things have happened that the public doesn't know about.

BONGINO: If the office was accused of hiding anything, they wouldn't want that.

CAIN: How many nights are you out of the year?

BONGINO: The worst year I had was 300.

O'BRIEN: That's 300 out of 365 days.

BONGINO: My daughter said are you allowed to sleep her? She was confused. She's young.

O'BRIEN: I think this is crazy. Is there it's a very stressful job type rationale that these guys are now going back to their wives in some cases and the parents in some cases and saying you don't understand this gig is hard? BONGINO: Good question. I'm not excusing their behavior at all. This job is the most stressful job in law enforcement. The life of the president of the United States, that's real, it's in your hands. If I told you the conference calls you were on where the questions were being asked about what is the capacity of the generator on the roof of the hotel? When was the last time it was inspected? These are a list of questions as an advance agent you are expected to have like that off the top of your head.

FUGELSANG: Would the fact that this group of security agents went to a strip club in the first place be a breach of conduct?

BONGINO: Absolutely. They don't condone that behavior. There's ongoing training about this stuff all the time you have to sign off on.

O'BRIEN: That's fascinating. Good luck in your Senate race.

BONGINO: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: We'll be happy to have you back. Hopefully the Secret Service will stay out of the news for a while. I'm sure an investigation is for forthcoming. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we'll talk about Tupac, the hologram, not the actual rapper who is deceased. It's about to go on a concert tour, the hologram. We'll talk about technology behind it.

Also, a man with one of the most inspirational stories I have ever heard. Jim Abbott born without a fully formed right hand ended up pitching a no-hitter for the Yankees. He's written a new book. It's fabulous. This book is called "Imperfect, an Improbable Life." We'll leave you with John's playlist, Tom Waits, Jockey Full of Bourbon." You're watching STARTING POINT.




O'BRIEN: That's Tupac. He's resurrected. Tupac Shakur was a rapper that was killed more than 15 years ago. He performed over the weekend via hologram. It was kind of weird. Take a look.




O'BRIEN: The folks who created this digital domain say this is a completely synthetic human being, that this was not old footage captured and then repurposed and not sound footage or archival footage. It is an illusion created with a screen that's reflected out of a projector, and they are able to digitally create his moves. It's a whole new experience.

CAIN: Fascinating, and the possibilities are endless. We've been debating every commercial break who you would like to see. I'll offer this one. Jimi Hendrix.


CAIN. Sinatra. It will turn a lot of people on to music that they haven't heard. It's a way of keeping music alive.

HILL: No not Sinatra.

FUGELSANG: -- it's going to turn a lot of people on to music that they haven't heard. It's a way of keeping music alive.

HILL: So the whole -- I think part of what makes this work is that Tupac is somebody who people love in a way like Elvis, right? Where we don't even want to believe that he's dead, right? People have Tupac sightings and Elvis sightings. And this allows people to believe that he's still alive.

O'BRIEN: Also I think what you want to be able to do is to have other people on the stage interacting, right? What's makes it interesting is that there are other people on the stage who are dancing with him or also having that response kind of thing which I think is interesting. Otherwise it could just be a movie about someone performing.


CAIN: Right, right, yes.

O'BRIEN: I think it's fascinating.

HILL: Maybe there will be a Tupac/Biggie duet. I mean, seriously, wouldn't that be kind of interesting? I mean --

FUGELSANG: No, that will be really creepy.

HILL: No, I think the whole thing is creepy. But I'm just saying I could see where this is going.

O'BRIEN: Guess how much that costs? This technology for this particular, it took four months to go. Give me a number.


CAIN: Seven figures. This is one is seven figures.

O'BRIEN: $400,000 I think is the upper scale. Well, nothing cost $500 anymore.

FUGELSANG: I couldn't get a microphone for that.

O'BRIEN: Yes I think it's fascinating but it's kind of creepy. All right, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, when he fielded the ball it looked like a magic trick. Major League Pitcher Jim Abbott was born without a right hand, has written a new book it's called "Imperfect: An Improbable Life" and it is fascinating. He joins us now.

Here's his playlist. Ray LaMontagne's "Three More Days." You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Bruce Springsteen gets a lot of play. "Racing in the Street." This is from Jim Abbott's playlist. His book is being called "Uncommonly Compelling and Unclenched and Big Hearted", it's a new memoire by a former Major League pitcher Jim Abbott, he's right here.

As you can see from the cover picture, he was born without a right hand in Flint, Michigan to loving parents who said never cuddled him. He dreamed as a kid of becoming a great athlete and he did just that. He was named the nation's best amateur athlete while he was at the University of Michigan.

And then he pitched for the 1988 Olympic baseball team, won a gold medal there. And then in 1993, he threw a historic no-hitter for the New York Yankees. We have people in this room who attended game and saw it. It is a remarkable story told in a remarkable book which is called "Imperfect: An Improbable Life."

And Jim Abbott is with us. It's so great to have you.


O'BRIEN: Thanks for being with us.

ABBOTT: It's great to be here.

O'BRIEN: You tell the story of your 5-year-old daughter who asks you a question about your hand. And she says, "Dad, did you like your little hand?" Tell us about your little hand and how you answered that question from a little girl?

ABBOTT: Well it was, it took me by surprise. I was in a preschool career day and with great little group of kids there. And you know the questions are coming at me from all angles. You know do you have a dog. No, nothing about a career. And out of nowhere comes my daughter's question in front of all her friends and her teacher, "Dad, do you like your little hand?"

O'BRIEN: You were born without a fully formed hand.

ABBOTT: And -- right, I was born missing my hand. And I always wondered how my kids would look at me and I always wondered how they would see me in those types of environments. And I told her that day that I did, that I like my hand. That it was me. And I like the places that it took me. When I walked out of that classroom, I kept thinking about that question and whether I had fully answered. And in a lot of ways that was the motivation for writing this book. "Did I like the little hand?"

O'BRIEN: You write a lot about your parents and how they raised you? How did they raise you? Because it would be very easy to coddle a child and sort of say you literally should not play sports. You definitely should not be a pitcher. You do not have a right hand.


ABBOTT: My mom and dad are my heroes Soledad. They were -- they had me at a very early age there was a lot of uncertainty in their life and yet they raised me instinctually, they didn't shield me away from the experience of the playground, the experience of sports. They encouraged me to get out there. And when I did come back maybe a little disheartened or a little down maybe there some kids who said some negative things, they encouraged me to get right back out there.

And -- and they -- the greatest gift my parents gave me was the idea that my hand was something to be lived up to. That it was a responsibility almost. That I was special enough to live up to this.


O'BRIEN: How do you --

CAIN: Jim I'm sorry.

O'BRIEN: Go ahead.

CAIN: I was going to ask you this. I'm a sports fan. A Texas Ranger fan, I'm used to seeing you pitch and pitch well against my team that I like as well. How much resistance did you get within baseball? Because well, you can pitch awesomely, I remember you had to switch that glove hand from your small hand to -- to your fielding hand. And I just wonder how many coach has said, no I'm sorry Jim, you're just not going to be able to do what we need you to do?

ABBOTT: You know the opposite was true.

CAIN: Really?

ABBOTT: And it was amazing. It was amazing how much support I had along the way. How many people -- I mean, there were a lot of times I doubted myself. There were times I felt like an outsider looking in. I wanted to prove myself I wanted to be on a team. But I can't tell you how many times coaches or teachers literally grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me into the game and said we can find a way to do this. And when I got for the Major Leagues, it was the same way. My first manager Doug Rader, Marsel Latchman they pulled me into the game and said you can do this.

FUGELSANG: Jim, I'm a Mets fan which is why I'm dressed like a Polar bear. And so I -- I -- it wouldn't -- I would feel complete without bringing up Steinbrenner. Is it true the Boss gave you a hard time for spending too much time with -- with children's groups?

O'BRIEN: You -- you talk to a lot of kids who were disabled who started just like really hunting you down and hanging out because their parents wanted to have their kids near you and inspire their kids.

FUGELSANG: Did anybody come down on you for it?

ABBOTT: You know he, I think he was disappointed in the way I was pitching. And he was looking for reasons for it. And -- and he was the boss and I wasn't living up the expectations professionally here in New York for the Yankees and I had just done an event up in Harlem with Challenge Your Little League which is a fantastic program. And I don't think he understood everything that was going on. So he's comments came a little bit after that it might, it might have been time misconstrued but he -- he was the boss. He wanted me to pitch. And you know what I agree with that. I was there to pitch. I was there to be the best possible pitcher I could be.


O'BRIEN: For parents they saw you as an inspiration. I mean, you know I was telling you earlier I want him to sign a book to my son who is hearing disabled because I think kids like that at seven are looking for a role model who has done something that they're not sure they can do. I mean, it's really a very big deal to see a professional athlete has done something.

How -- how do you manage to find all of those stories so inspiring when some of that you talk about are really heartbreaking, those kids?

ABBOTT: It is. Part of the motivation for the book was I still get cards and letters and e-mails from all over the country from parents who have young children facing incredible challenges to kids to little boys and little girls. And I would always write the letter out. I always send one page letter and a photo. Again I would send that out and feel somewhat inadequate. Am I saying enough? Am I conveying the experiences I have.

O'BRIEN: Now you can send the book.

ABBOTT: The book is my answer. This is what I went through. These are people that lifted me up. This is what I believe.

O'BRIEN: Can I read a little bit? At one point you do a run through of what it was like to pitch a no-hitter, which is amazing. You say, "yeah, baby" was the reaction. You say all of the aftermath of that was this. The vice president of PR for the Angels, every time you succeeded, after he left he would say "I want to say out loud, look at what Jimmy Abbott did today. I can remember all of you naysayers, whoever you are, well -- expletive kind of thing I won't mention -- for all of the individual accomplishments I was privileged to be around and I wasn't around for that, I may have felt as happy for Jim Abbott doing that as for any athlete. He did it."

Was there a sense of vindication after the no-hitter? I showed you people who didn't believe I could do it that I could do it, ever?

ABBOTT: No. I felt great joy. I was given so much. I was blessed. My dad used to say what's taken away once is given back twice, Jim. I was given a great left arm. I could throw. I had ability. My inspiration was to make the most of what I had been given. That night in New York after that no-hitter, I wish everybody in the world could have one night like that where you walk around and walk down the streets and people rush up with early edition of the paper and you're signing it and it was an incredible moment.

O'BRIEN: Jim Abbott, the book is called "Imperfect and Improbable Life." We'll ask you to stick around through the commercial break and join us at End Point for the last word of our show up next. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: It's time for End Point this morning. We've asked Jim Abbott to stick around because his book is so inspirational and we want to use our final 30 seconds to get your inspirational story. What's the big take away we should move forward with?

ABBOTT: I hope people like the baseball side of this book. It's a baseball story. But I hope they are inspired. I really do. I hope -- you know, if there's any message I like to share with people, it's that we all will be challenged. We know that. Challenge comes in a lot of different forms. The question is what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? I firmly believe we're not bound by circumstances we're born into and what's happening today isn't what's going to happen tomorrow and that amazing things can happen.

O'BRIEN: The book is amazing. "Imperfect and Improbable Life" by Jim Abbott. That's it for us. Thanks for being with us. "CNN NEWSROOM" begins now. Hey, Carol, good morning.