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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Sex Scandal Agent Revealed; Secret Service Cracks Down; Holder Could be Held in Contempt?
Aired April 27, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Breaking news tonight. CNN identifying the agent at the center of the Secret Service sex scandal. And then a special report, OUTFRONT debt collectors harassing patients in the emergency room, refusing treatment until people pay up in the hospital. We go in-depth.
And the latest from the Trayvon Martin case. Will George Zimmerman's bail be revoked? The lawyers for Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman OUTFRONT. Let's go.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight we have breaking news in the Secret Service sex scandal. Just about -- just a few moments ago CNN learning the identity of the agent believed to be at the center of the entire scandal. His name, Arthur Huntington. He's from Severna Park, Maryland and he was the Secret Service agent who had the payment dispute with Colombian escort Dania Suarez (ph).
Now that argument in the hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia, set off a wide-ranging investigation into misconduct by President Obama's advance team. As a result, right now nine Secret Service members have resigned or are being forced out of the agency. The military has launched its own investigation into 12 members also in Colombia before the president's visit. Now, Drew Griffin was the first reporter to break this news tonight and Drew, walk us through this. What more can you tell us? I mean how did you figure this out? This was real on the ground, hard reporting.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well the Secret Service tried to make sure that none of these names came out, Erin, which made it tough. But we knew from hotel security down in Cartagena that the dispute happened between two rooms on the seventh floor where the agents were staying. We know those two rooms were both occupied by Secret Service agents.
We then were able to obtain a list of all the agents in that hotel who had checked in and we noticed something interesting about those rooms on the seventh floor. In three of the rooms, apparently, the agents involved were removed and new agents were moved into those rooms after the scandal broke. That led us to the names of those three agents.
We have been able to tell that two of the agents are cleared and are going back to work. But the third agent, Arthur Huntington (ph), through our sources, has now been identified at the man who had that dispute with Dania Suarez (ph) and apparently started this entire crisis within the Secret Service Department.
BURNETT: And what else have you been able to find out about Arthur Huntington (ph) as a person? Anything more about the man?
GRIFFIN: He appears to be 41 years old. He is married. He's the father of two sons according to the neighbors. We don't know how long he has been a Secret Service agent. We went to his house on Monday. A man identifying himself as Mr. Huntington did answer the door, talked to one of our producers, declined comment. Since then, Erin, there has been not a single response other than the door being shut at the Huntington home, as you said, in Maryland. We haven't been able to reach out and don't know if he has an attorney or not. We just know from our sources that he has been severed from the Secret Service.
BURNETT: So 41-year-old married father of two. Do we have -- you have any sense of where he is now and perhaps holed up in his house or any other sense of where he may be?
GRIFFIN: We only believe he's at that house because of the cars that are there. We have not spotted him. His neighbors say you know this was a guy who was not home a lot. One neighbor saying he was not home at all. That is typical for the service these Secret Service agents conduct. And that his children were home schooled. But that is all. We believe he is in Maryland at his home. Obviously dealing not with just the Secret Service crisis but a very real personal crisis in his life.
BURNETT: I am sure that is true. And again, as we said, now identifying, thanks to the hard work here of Drew. Real boots on the ground comparing the list of who stayed in the hotel who moved in and out of which room on what floor to find out exactly who was at the center of all of this.
We have another development in the Secret Service today, changing the way agents are allowed to operate while overseas. There has been a whole set of rules changed. CNN able to confirm what they were today, our national security contributor Fran Townsend has been working her sources. She joins me on the phone literally in between flights. Fran, what can you tell us about these rule changes?
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR (via phone): You know, Erin what they do is they put in place, someone said to me, this is sort of legislative common sense. It talks about that the agents have to not have any alcohol within 10 hours of being on duty. It talks that directs them not to have any foreign nationals in their hotel room, other than hotel service workers or foreign law enforcement.
It very much legislates the sort of things that the standards of conduct the Secret Service agents are trained in all the time and so in some respect while I -- the agents I've spoken to don't resent it, they sort of -- (INAUDIBLE) bit of an eye roll, if you will. This is how they're trained. This is what they're supposed to do.
If people break the rules, they should be held accountable. The more controversial one is from now on they're going to have two supervisors, more senior than the two supervisors that were on this trip. Remember we reported that the two supervisors on the -- in Cartagena were GS-14, first-line supervisors. They're not going to have two GS-15s, more senior, more experienced supervisors, one of whom will be from a field office.
That's typical, but one of whom will be from the office of professional responsibility. That's the office that's now doing the investigation into the Cartagena scandal, and that's -- that is resented. The agents I speak to sort of have said to me this is sort of like sending the baby-sitter with us. You know you train us. You supervise us. You should trust us and hold us accountable as opposed to sending a minder with us.
BURNETT: Yes, I mean it sounds like a lot of these rules are common sense rules. That you shouldn't be drinking heavily 10 hours before duty when you are with the president. Not allowing foreign nationals in your hotel rooms when you could be in possession of a piece of paper with the president's schedule on it.
TOWNSEND: Right. No, that's exactly right. And I think because so many of the agents who were on the Cartagena trip violated these common sense rules they felt the need to write them down so that there is no ambiguity and it's clear that they intend to hold people accountable (INAUDIBLE) and enforce this.
BURNETT: All right, well Fran Townsend thank you very much, the reporting on the rules changes and again Drew Griffin there, the reporting on well the man at the center of this entire situation.
Still OUTFRONT a Chinese murder mystery is now an American story and today we have more to report about Bo Xilai's son and Harvard. And a high-ranking congressman calms Barack Obama the most corrupt president ever. Really?
And debt collectors demanding payment from patients in the emergency room. An OUTFRONT special report.
BURNETT: So is Google cheating you? The Federal Trade Commission is bringing in a high-powered attorney to lead an investigation into whether Google manipulates search results. Oh you know, I mean they want you to go certain places. Well who knows. The last time the FTC made a similar move was in 1998. That's when it eventually charged Microsoft with being a monopoly.
And of course things have changed. Microsoft would actually be the winner is the FTC brings a case against Google, which brings us to our number tonight, 15.3. That's the percentage of market share Microsoft search engine Bing had in March according to Comscore. Google was at 66.4 percent and it's really been you know sitting there for quite some time. But here's the thing about it.
Bing isn't even three years old. It's already at 15.3 percent? Maybe that's proof Google isn't monopolizing anything. But if Google gets the antitrust slam down it will be Microsoft's Bing that rises like a Phoenix since 1998. I guess it takes a lot time to get revenge.
All right, well now a story we've been OUTFRONT on, a murder mystery in China that's thrown the government into chaos now spilling into the United States. British businessman Neil Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in Chang Ching (ph) last year. Now police say he was poisoned by cyanide. Soon after prominent politician Bo Xilai once thought to be the next president of China lost his job and he is totally MIA now.
No one even knows where the heck the guy is. And he didn't lose his job for killing Heywood, but actually for corruption and wiretapping the country's president. Spying. Bo Xilai's wife was actually arrested and accused of using cyanide to kill Heywood thanks to a business deal gone bad. Now the story is, as we have been saying, James Bond-like, but international attention is now focusing on the couple's son Bo Guagua.
Questions swirling about how the young man once suspended from Oxford University in Britain because of poor academics got into well one of the most elite universities in the world. He's studying public policy at the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, a school that takes 20 percent of its applicants. The average is 26 years old with three years of work experience. Bo Guagua is 24. A source familiar with his academic record today told OUTFRONT that during one course in 2010, Bo didn't turn in a single assignment, yet the following year he was awarded a coveted research grant in policy analysis.
A spokesman for Harvard says the grant was awarded "based on a variety of criteria including the quality of the proposal, the research focus and travel requirements." Now OUTFRONT has repeatedly tried to get Harvard to comment on Bo Guagua specifically. So far the school has refused our requests. But the president at the "Hartford Crimson" newspaper told us it wasn't hard to Bo to blend in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN SAMUELS, PRESIDENT, HARVARD CRIMSON NEWSPAPER: One thing about Harvard is that there's a lot of people whose families are well- known, whose parents are connected in government, connected in business. So even as someone famous as many of our professors are, the child of someone famous, it's very easy to blend in as any other Harvard student and I don't think it was any different in his case, I would imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) took a job of blending in (INAUDIBLE) when Cambridge police stopped him twice for running stop signs once for driving 58 miles an hour in a 30 mile zone. I mean -- come on. I've got to forgive him for that. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that for all those three things he was behind the wheel of, well, this is the bigger problem, an $80,000 black Porsche (INAUDIBLE). Sort of, you know, not possible to afford theoretically on a Chinese government official salary. All right a congressional leader calls President Obama the most corrupt president ever and John Edwards trial continues. One of his former aides testifies Edwards made him fear for his life.
BURNETT: So Republican Congressman Darrell Issa wants to hold the attorney general in contempt, but that's just the tip of the iceberg here for Issa. He is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Earlier this week he called the Obama administration quote "the most corrupt government in history". Now that is a pretty significant statement. I mean remember Watergate? Now he says that Attorney General Eric Holder is in contempt of Congress for slowing his investigation into the government's botched fast and furious gun tracking operation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA, CHAIRMAN HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: The attorney general has said before our committee we're entitled to what he thinks we need and he will give us and that's just not the way it works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Attorney General Holder has always said he's cooperated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: In addition to my frequent testimony before Congress I have answered and am continuing to answer questions that have been submitted for the record during previous hearings. We've also submitted or made available for review some 6,400 pages of documents to congressional investigators. This has been a significant undertaking for Justice Department employees and our efforts in this regard remain ongoing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We all know people who say that they're cooperating, being helpful to you and aren't really doing anything. But so you know, there could be more to this. Let's see if there really is. John Avlon is in New Orleans, former head speechwriter for President Clinton Michael Waldman is here in New York and Republican strategist Alice Stewart is in Washington. OK, great to have all of you with us.
And John, let me start with you. There is actually a precedent for this. Janet Reno, the House Oversight Committee held her in contempt for failing -- failing to hand over some campaign finance documents, as I said, back in 1998. So this seems to be a bipartisan problem?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's certainly a bipartisan problem when members of the House Oversight Committee -- a member of a different party in the White House, but that's the problem. This is an important committee and it gets diminished when the people start getting infected with that perspective free hyper partisanship. You know when Darrell Issa calls the Obama administration the most corrupt in history, that doesn't even pass the laugh test. I mean you know Watergate and on down, if that's his perspective on this problem, it's an indication of just how out of touch he really is and there is important work to be done, but throwing around threats of contempt to Congress and subpoenas this diminishes the important work the committee should do.
BURNETT: And Michael, let me ask you, Congress does have the right to do this, right? I mean I did not know this, but you said that there's a jail --
MICHAEL WALDMAN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE, NYU: There's actually a jail in the basement of Congress. Not for the members of Congress, that might be an interesting use of it --
BURNETT: It would be full.
WALDMAN: In case -- well it would be full. There would be a long line -- but in case there's a contempt citation and they can't get the courts to do it. This is kind of classic Washington kabuki. They leak the draft of a possible contempt citation that's many steps away from actually being anything.
WALDMAN: But I do think that it's exactly right. This to me whole thing smells of a kind of a conspiracy theory in search of a scandal. This was clearly a botched effort to deal with the drug cartels, but I've seen nothing in the thousands of pages of documents that have been produced that suggests a scandal of real malevolence of deliberate wrongdoing or cover-ups. So you know but this is -- look there's a lot of oversight that's needed. I think the oversight on the Secret Service thing is exactly right. This is just kind of sound and fury, from what I can tell.
BURNETT: Alice, you think Issa's bluffing?
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Absolutely not. I mean he has every single right and reason to go after Holder and the Justice Department. He's issued subpoenas for at least 70,000 documents and they've only turned over less than 7,000 of them. We also understand that many of them have been redacted to the point to where Issa has referred to them as the black pages as opposed to the white pages so they can say they're responding and complying with the subpoena, but they're not by any stretch of the imagination.
And there's also been 22 areas of inquiry in which Issa and his committee has asked for information from the Justice Department. They've received it from only about half of those areas of inquiry, so there's a tremendous amount of information they are not providing and it's important to do it. It's important for the family of Brian Terry to get to the bottom of this and get the answers.
And in comparison, the Oversight Committee has received more documents from ATF whistle-blowers than they've received from our own Justice Department. So we need to get to the bottom of this. We need to get truth. And the best way we can get the answers is to get the most information that we possibly can and not more stonewalling from the Justice Department.
BURNETT: Michael, some of the other investigations Issa has underway, the GSA, the Secret Service, (INAUDIBLE) Postal Service, TSA, Army payroll, food stamp fraud. He's got a lot going on right now.
WALDMAN: Look, when he came in, when President Obama came in you just, for starters, you just have to figure he had that line about being the most corrupt government in history in his computer waiting to be used for something. But he said they shouldn't be hiring lawyers. They should be hiring accountants in the executive branch and that's actually the kind of oversight that's really needed. The problem is it's hard to split it up the legitimate oversight from the endless kind of -- screaming (ph) criminalization.
WALDMAN: When I was working in government we assumed that everything anybody wrote down was going to eventually be in the hands of a congressional committee, and that's OK, but it really makes it very hard to get a lot done.
BURNETT: All right. I want to just play something back here, John Avlon, because this is interesting. Henry Waxman, those of you who don't remember who he is, he's a familiar looking guy. You may remember him. He was head of the House Oversight Committee for two years, 78 hearings he held. Lehman Brothers, baseball, a whole lot of things, here he is about Condoleezza Rice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Secretary Rice is going to have a confrontation with this committee because we're not going to accept the idea that if you say something (INAUDIBLE) negative about the Maliki government it's classified. If you say something about them positive, it's OK? That seems to be what we've been told by the State Department. I consider that completely unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Seventy-eight hearings for his tenure. Darrell Issa, chairman for a year and three months, he's already at 50. John Avlon, is he out of control?
AVLON: Well when he says things that are ridiculous on their face, like it's the most corrupt administration in history, yes. That is a sign of not someone who is in control. That's not a serious person. But you know, what Waxman's comments indicate this is a bipartisan problem. This kind of grandstanding when there's a president of the opposite party and it diminishes the entire process. BURNETT: All right, thanks to all three. Appreciate it. Happy Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have here a study from Hempstead University (ph) which shows us that cats and dogs are beginning to watch television. Now, if these scientists are right, you should start programming right now or in 20 years they could become steady viewers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That was a clip from the 1988 movie "Scrooged" and even though the idea of cats and dogs watching TV was obviously meant as a joke, it turns out that prediction was real. "DOGTV" is an on demand channel designed to keep your little dog relaxed and entertained while you're at work. It's $4.99 a month and apparently it's doing pretty well. This is what you get to watch. It's tailored for dogs. You know, the sounds, colors and the angles that they like the best. At the moment it's only available in San Diego, but it's going to go national this year. Now, just you know for those out there who are feline lovers, there is programming for cats, too or more specifically apps for cats. There are a bunch of companies that have released tablet games for their feline fans. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Felines play with virtual friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And then they whack it with their paw. Most of them involve birds, bugs and fish frolicking across the screen. They're designed to entertain and soothe your savage tiger. Now look we're all for happy pets, but really, is this the way to go about it? We used to turn off the lights when we walked out of a room and kids played with wooden spoons you know. Now we're leaving the television on all day long for dogs and cats with their own iPads when you know hey, look, they could sit on the windowsill and look out. They were happy, seriously. In "Scrooged" programming for pets was just a joke and you know what, maybe it should stay that way.
BURNETT: Still OUTFRONT -- prostitute versus U.S. Embassy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A van dragged her along, it broke her collarbone, three ribs.
BURNETT: Zimmerman's Pay-pals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His silence was an indication of untruth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I consider it an oversight. BURNETT: All this OUTFRONT in our second half.
BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting, do the work and find the "OutFront 5".
And first tonight, CNN has learned the name of the Secret Service agent believed to be at the center of the sex scandal in Colombia. Sources tell our Drew Griffin that the agent is Arthur Huntington (ph) of Severna, Maryland. The married 41-year-old father of two is the agent who got into a dispute with an escort over pay at a hotel.
That dispute is what set off the massive investigation into misconduct from the Secret Service. Huntington has since left the Secret Service. CNN reached to him for a comment. He declined. Nine Secret Service members have resigned or are being forced out as a result of the scandal over the alleged events in Colombia.
Number two, Dominique Strauss-Kahn accusing his political opponents of destroying his bid to be the president of France. In an interview with "The Guardian" newspaper, DSK launched a conspiracy theory saying he believes operatives linked to current French President Nicolas Sarkozy orchestrated his public fall. Strauss-Kahn accuses the operatives of intercepting his phone calls and making sure a New York housekeeper went to police to accuse him of rape. That case was eventually dropped, but before the scandal broke DSK led some presidential polls in France.
Well, the election now pits Sarkozy versus Francois Hollande, who won the first round of voting, and leads in new polls ahead of the second round, which is in about a week.
Well, number three, the space shuttle Enterprise arrived in New York City. It was on the back of a 747. If you didn't see it, it's worth looking at. It's a pretty neat thing -- flying over the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks and landing at JFK for a ceremony. Now, the shuttle's final resting place will be at Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, which is on the Hudson River.
The museum told OUTFRONT they're expecting a 30 percent increase in attendance when that exhibit opens in July. It will mean more money. It's going get to charge an extra 6 bucks to see nearly $2 billion space shuttle.
Well, number four, growth in the U.S. economy is slowing down. It grew 2.2 percent in the first three months of this year. Now, it was a 3 percent growth rate in the prior quarter. So, still growing, but the rate really decelerating.
Now, there were some positive signs in numbers. We wanted to pull it out. It's a glass half-full kind of show. Personal consumption jumped nearly 3 percent. The second strongest quarter since the recovery began.
It has been, though, 267 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? Well, the government has been cutting spending and shows in the GDP report. It was one of the big reasons growth was cut. Defense spending alone down 8 percent, following a 12 percent decline in the prior quarter. Obviously, the government is going to be cutting spending over the long-term.
But the question is how soon should they do it? Because if they cut spending, economic growth gets hurt and some say could send the U.S. back to recession.
Well, there's a sex tape, yes, at center of arguments in the John Edwards trial. And today, we found out more about what happened. Edwards pleaded not guilty, as you are aware, to using nearly $1 million from wealthy donors to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter. Now, if he's found guilty, he could spend 30 years in prison and have to pay $1 million in fine.
So, today, Edwards' lawyer tried to convince the judge to keep a potentially explosive videotape from being made public. The tape is believed to be from his affair with Rielle Hunter. The judge ruled lawyers can refer to it but he hasn't decided whether to release it.
Now, the other thing that happened today, with the spotlight turned on John Edwards former right-hand man, Andrew Young. Young testified today that he feared for his life while working for Edwards.
Paul Callan is OUTFRONT with us tonight.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Really. A sex tape in the John Edwards case. Absolutely.
BURNETT: And what about this fearing for his life that Andrew Young said. What does it mean there?
CALLAN: Well, you know, you got the problem of the tapes and you have the problem of Andrew Young being in fear that these guys, he says -- he said there's a billionaire and a millionaire and they're all telling me to cover up and lie and do illegal things, and I was afraid for my life. I was afraid something bad would really happen to me. I said sex tape in the beginning because that's where we wound up before the end of the day, talking how crazy the case is, threats on his life and all of these allegations.
BURNETT: I mean, that's just -- I mean, some people may sort of smile but sexually, rather bizarre. And if true, very frightening thing. What about the sex tapes, though? I mean, I know the judge said refer to it and he's debating whether to have it come out as evidence.
But what would it do evidentially? I mean we know that they had an affair. All it is, it's tawdry. CALLAN: It's tawdry. And you know, the back story on it is that Andrew Young, his chief aided, when she -- when Rielle Hunter left the house, she left this tape behind. And Young's been holding on to it, and the talk was he was going try to sell it and make money on it. So Edwards' attorney could cross-examine him to show what a sleaze ball he is, that he's willing to sell this tape to make money, which would really hurt Andrew Young.
But the problem is, every time you throw a rock at Andrew Young, it bounces off his head and hits John Edwards, because the very existence of the tape makes John Edwards look like a sleaze ball. And so, it's a problem piece of evidence I think for both men.
BURNETT: For both. So in court today, Young admitted taking money from Bunny Mellon, the wealthy donor, not just to conquer up the affair also using it for himself. Additions for his home, boats, expensive vacations. Is this a rock that also his John Edwards or does it just succeed in making Andrew Young look bad?
CALLAN: This is less so, let's ricochet on this one. And I think the defense made a real, real score today. This was a devastating attack on Young.
It showed really that Young has admitted to being a crook. He was taking $200,000 from someone who supposedly was donating to John Edwards. Spending the money on his own personal expenses.
So, it really, really did serious damage to him. I thought it was the best day the defense has had in the case.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Paul Callan, thank you very much as we continue to follow that.
And now, an in-depth special report here on OUTFRONT. We're talking about that collectors and this story -- it took to a whole new level. It's shocking. So, here it is.
High pressure sales tactics. You remember this scene from "Glengarry Glen Ross"?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. You all know first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado? Anybody want to see second prize? Second price, is set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: One company is using those boiler room tactics in the emergency room. Hospitals have been facing intense financial pressure. In 2009, they had $39 billion in unpaid bills. But the lengths that some are going to do collect are shocking.
Our Jim Spellman has the story.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Deb Waldin developed a kidney stone, she went straight to the E.R.
DEB WALDIN: I was in my little room, waiting for the doctor to come and writhing in pain, I have to add. This is unbelievable pain.
SPELLMAN: But instead of a doctor, she was greeted by a high- pressure bill collector.
WALDIN: He said that I needed to pay, I can't remember the exact figure, $700 to $800 -- I'm not sure what it was. And I was just shocked.
SPELLMAN: Marcia Newton says before her son Max went into surgery to have tubes placed in his ears, to prevent a ruptured ear drum, she was pressured into paying an amount well above what she actually owed.]
MARCIA NEWTON: I was charged $876, and when Blue Cross sent through my final statement, I only owed $200.
SPELLMAN: So, Newton started complaining, eventually taking the case to the Minnesota attorney general's office.
NEWTON: And I don't think anyone was going to make about effort to refund our money until we started calling.
SPELLMAN: That's when she found out she wasn't alone. According to the Minnesota attorney general's office, Newton and Waldin were among many patients being forced to inappropriately pay money to a collections company called Accretive, hired by Fairview Health Services, a nonprofit healthcare provider.
The Minnesota attorney general's office has release a six volume report on Accretive and is suing the firm in federal court.
LORI SWANSON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes. They're taking down to people who are under duress, trying to get extra cash out of people's wallets in the emergency room, getting people to sometimes pay cash, take out a credit card, at a time in their life when they're not thinking straight, when they're not feeling well.
SPELLMAN: The report claims that Accretive managers ran the business like a boiler room sales operation, right in the emergency room.
SWANSON: You collect X amount in the emergency room, I'll dress up like a clown or the Kentucky Fried Chicken mascot. And so, very much creating hyper-aggressive, sale-oriented collection environment at a place that should be a sanctuary for people who are sick and dealing with the worst time of their life.
SPELLMAN: Accretive has not responded to our request for comment. Fairview Health Services e-mailed a statement that in part reads, "We take the concerns raised by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson very seriously. We share many of her concerns and have already taken actions to address them."
Fairview stopped Accretive for debt collection services in January, but still uses the firm for other financial services.
NANCY MAHOLIC: You know, here's the first one --
SPELLMAN: Nancy Maholic had a $150 balance when she arrived at the hospital. She was asked to pay up or postpone her surgery.
MAHOLIC: They were very willing to take my checking number and withdraw it automatically. I said, no. You're not going to do that.
SPELLMAN: Deb Waldin also refused to pay up, but says she's concerned that others might not be able to say no so easily.
WALDIN: I think -- maybe older people, people that maybe didn't speak the languages, didn't understand maybe, or just afraid that you wouldn't get care, and -- it was -- I guess I was just in so much pain I didn't really care what I said to him, I just, you know, go away.
SPELLMAN: Jim Spellman, CNN, St. Paul, Minnesota.
BURNETT: Now, so far, 60 hospitals in 20 states have been implicated. Looks like this could just be the tip of the iceberg. Let us know what you think on Twitter.
Well, a former Brazilian prostitute is suing the United States embassy. We'll tell you why.
And the latest from the Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman's bail, will it be revoked? The Lawyers from Trayvon Martin's family and George Zimmerman OUTFRONT, next.
BURNETT: We're back with tonight's "Outer Circle," we reach out to sources around the world.
And we begin tonight in Syria where state media said a suicide bomber killed nine people in Damascus today. Arwa Damon is following the story from Beirut and asked her if this fighting means U.N. peace deal is completely dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the peace talk never had a chance to actually begin to succeed since one of the four requirements, a ceasefire never truly materialized. Since it was called for, hundreds of people have been killed according to opposition activists. And on Friday, there were two explosions in the capital of Damascus, one of them carried out by a suicide bomber. And opposition activists are saying that neighborhoods that the U.N. monitors are visiting are being targeted afterwards. None of this, of course, paint a very positive picture for Syria or even for the fact that the arrival or the potential arrival of hundreds of monitors is actually going to begin to change the situation on the ground. And at this point in time, Erin, there is no plan B.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. Arwa Damon, thank you.
And now to Brazil where a former prostitute is threatening to sue the U.S. embassy, claiming she was injured while meeting a group of U.S. Marines and an embassy employee. The three marines involved have already been punished.
Shasta Darlington is in Brasilia with the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, she told us she worked as stripper right here at this night club Apple's. And she was also a call girl.
It was on December 29th that she and co-workers left with a group of Americans from the U.S. embassy security team -- three marines, and one embassy staffer. They called an embassy van.
And according to this woman, after they got into the car she was violently thrown out because she's gotten into an argument with the Brazilian driver. When she tried to stand up, she says she grabs the handle and the van dragged her along and then rolled over her abdomen. She broke her collarbone, three ribs and she punctured a lung. Now, she wants to sue, Erin.
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BURNETT: Is George Zimmerman in jeopardy of going back to jail because of money he raised online? Zimmerman raised more than $200,000 on his Web site and the judge in the case now wants to know where it came from and when.
Judge Ken Lester set Zimmerman free on $150,000 bond last week, after he and his family and his defense attorney claim the volunteer neighborhood watchman was indigent. The attorney for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin says it's outrageous and that Zimmerman's bond should be revoked.
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BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: We are emphatically saying that his silence was indication of untruth.
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BURNETT: Benjamin Crump will be our guest in just a couple minutes.
But, first, defense attorney Mark O'Mara joins me.
Ands, Mark, let me just ask you exactly -- I know you weren't aware of this money. But you hear Benjamin Crump there saying that this is evidence that George Zimmerman is dishonest, the bail should be revoked. What's your reaction?
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMN'S ATTORNEY: It's just not an appropriate reaction to it, I don't believe. He did not tell the court that that money was there and available seemingly, and I consider it an oversight, because I don't see anything else that suggests that Mr. Zimmerman has been insincere or dishonest. As a matter of fact, the opposite seems to be true, because when I first talked to him about it. He was very forthright.
It actually happened at a time when we were doing away with all of his web presence, he mentioned to me the PayPal account. I asked what he was talking about. He said how much is in it. I said you need to give that to me right now, because I knew the concern of him having that much money, and literally that day he FedExed it over to me, the money he had available, and then there's more money coming from PayPal itself.
BURNETT: Mark, I mean, I -- just hearing this -- I mean, one thing that goes through my mind and I think some of the viewers' minds is, well, look, George Zimmerman had this money. He had used some of it for living expenses. So, he knew was available to him and he was spending it, and this is a guy who didn't have a lot of money, right?
So, there's no way he could have had an oversight and forgotten to tell you about it, unless he wanted to -- well, keep it on the side for himself for living expenses and not tell you about it.
O'MARA: I understand that concern. I truly do. I'm not trying to minimize it.
If I were to look at this from the complete outside and say there was $200,000 sitting there, I would know if I had $200,000 sitting somewhere. The oversight I suggest is, all the other evidence around it suggests he wasn't trying to be deceptive or deceitful with it. He could very easily have never mentioned the PayPal to me.
He could easily have hidden all of those facts from me. Rather, soon as it was asked, but I do accept the responsibility of having not questioned him about this before, I used my excuse the fact I've been extraordinarily busy with everything else.
But the moment I asked him about it, he acknowledged it and forwarded the money. I think that fact is as relevant and if not more relevant than the fact that he didn't mention it to the judge at a time when I think he didn't intend any deceit or dishonesty.
BURNETT: Will you be surprised if the judge decides when he does come back and make a decision that George Zimmerman needs to go back to jail? Have you told George Zimmerman that that could be the outcome of this money revelation?
O'MARA: We've discussed all the possibilities. I would be, if you're asking the question, might be surprised if Judge Lester found this to be such a violation that he felt the need to re-incarcerate. I think $150,000 is a very significant bond, very high bond. It was difficult for them to get and to secure -- again, we're talking about not using the $200,000, $150,000. So, without that it was still very difficult for them to accomplish.
BURNETT: Benjamin Crump is going to be with us in just a couple of minutes. And I'm going to ask him about this. I want to ask you first.
George Zimmerman, of course, as you said, had raised about $204,000, just through his online plea before you came onboard. Trayvon Martin's family says he only raised $100,000.
Are you surprised that your client raised double?
O'MARA: It has been an enormous amount of up-swelling on both sides of this issue. I'm sad that the issue seems to be Trayvon Martin's family versus the Zimmerman family, because I don't think that's a conversation that needs to occur.
There has also been money forwarded, directed to my account, to me, about $10,000 or $12,000. I have taken all of that and also put it into the account. Nothing to do with George, been directed to my office.
But, honestly, I can understand why $200,000 of support came in for George Zimmerman and I expect a lot more, because it is such an issue for people to look at this case and see it the way it's been presented so far, though none of us know all the facts.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much, Mark O'Mara. Appreciate you taking the time, sir.
O'MARA: Sure. No problem at all.
BURNETT: Mark O'Mara also told me he will represent George Zimmerman pro bono if need, that it could cost $1 million to defend his client.
Now, let's go to Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family.
Mr. Crump, good to see you. Appreciate you taking the time.
What's your reaction about what Mark O'Mara said, trying to make the case for George Zimmerman not talking about the money as an oversight? Do you feel any more convinced than you did earlier?
CRUMP: Not at all, Erin. It is painfully obvious that George Zimmerman lied to the court by omission. He sat there and listened to the state attorney, the judge, as well as his lawyer ask his father, his mother, and his wife about how much money that Web site raised, the Real George Zimmerman, the Web site that he created, the Web site that he controlled, and he sat there and didn't say a word.
And he knew what the judge was asking for. He wants to know what to set the bail amount at, to decide whether he's going to get out of jail. And it was willful ignorance on his part.
BURNETT: Why do you think he did it? Why do you think he omitted it? I mean, was it -- you heard me ask the question there, that he maybe wanted to save some stash of money for his own use? Or any -- I mean, obviously, I'm asking you to speculate here, but what do you think?
CRUMP: Well, obviously, he -- you follow the money, as we always say in criminal cases. And it's a situation that George Zimmerman took that stand and he was offered this orchestrated, insincere apology. He lied during the apology when he said he didn't know how Trayvon Martin was.
So we have a pattern that he's manipulative and he's deceitful. He's very deceitful.
I will say this, Erin -- all of America is waiting like Trayvon Martin's parents to see what is the judge going to do. Is he as offended as Trayvon Martin's parents about this deception as they are? And this is going to say a lot about whether Trayvon Martin can get a fair trial.
BURNETT: Benjamin, let me ask you a question, though. Because, you know, even if everything you say ends up being right and he omitted it and he was dishonest, isn't bail fundamentally about flight risk as opposed to the level the bail is set at? I mean, and George Zimmerman, certainly, if he was going to have fled, he would have already done so.
So if bail is to prevent flight risk, he doesn't appear to be one.
CRUMP: Well, my grandma said, if you lie about something little, you'll lie about something big. It's about trust.
When the court asks you a question, you've got to be honest. And if he doesn't revoke his bond, the court should severely sanction him. So, George Zimmerman understands you cannot lie to the court. And if Trayvon Martin had deceived the court, we have no doubt that his bond would have been revoked.
It's about fairness. And that's all Trayvon's parents want, is fairness. And we're going to see whether they can get fairness based on these next couple of rulings by this court.
BURNETT: And, Benjamin, I know you heard me ask Mark O'Mara about the issue of raising money. I was surprised, given the public outcry, given how this has been tried in the court of public opinion, to this point, to see that George Zimmerman appears to have on his Web site raised twice as much money as Trayvon Martin's family.
Were you surprised too when you heard that number?
CRUMP: Well, a little bit, Erin, because he killed an unarmed kid. And you ask for a lot of conversation to be had in our country, when you say, an armed vigilante can kill an unarmed kid and raise $200,000. You know there's some special interests in there.
And that's just sad, because Trayvon Martin is still Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin's kid who got killed as he walked home. Look at the objective evidence. Don't take our word for it, don't take Mr. O'Mara's word for it. That videotape, 35 minutes after this alleged plunging he got, and listen to the 911 tapes.
And if the shoe was on the other foot, Erin, nobody would say this is a difficult trial. They would have convicted Trayvon Martin as quick as we can say the word conviction. It's a double standard and we've got to send a message that there's equal justice for everybody in America. This is what this case is about.
BURNETT: Benjamin, thank you very much. Benjamin Crump, as with we said, the lawyer for Trayvon Martin's family.
Now, let's check in with Anderson with a look at what's on "A.C. 360" on a Friday night.
Hey, Erin. We're keeping them honest tonight on the program -- with the head-scratching politics of how an attempt to keep students seeing a dramatic rise in the cost of their college loans has devolved into finger-pointing and name-calling about the so-called war on women. An explanation on that ahead. I'll speak with Congressman Carolyn Maloney about today's developments, as well as David Gergen and Candy Crowley.
Tonight in crime and punishment, 11 years after drowning her five kids in a bathtub, Andrea Yates, remember her, she may soon get to leave lockup in the mental hospital where she spent the last five years. We'll explain why at least for a few hours a week, a judge is considering a request to allow her to attend services at a local church. We'll talk to Dr. Drew on whether Andrea Yates should be allowed to leave.
Those stories and a lot more tonight at the top of the hour, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Anderson.
Next, Rush Limbaugh and Hillary Clinton. Birds of a feather? OUTFRONT, next.
BURNETT: So today, we stumbled upon this headline in "The Washington Post." "Rush Limbaugh's insults demonstrate his fear of Hillary Clinton." Well, I'm sure rush would beg to differ, but fear of Hillary? This is the most recent example of the reinvention of Hillary Clinton that has been going on over the past few years -- a woman who is more popular than ever in poll after poll after poll and has a real shot at winning the 2016 Democratic nomination. There's even a fan site dedicated to just how cool she looks in one of her photos.
Hillary Clinton, American hotshot. It's a far cry from when she ran for president in 2008 and people fell all over themselves to refer to her as cold, harsh, or unlikable. The new Hillary, has figuratively, and literally let down her hair, drinking beer, dancing at bars. I mean, she made the front of the "New York Post" drinking a beer.
But why? Maybe we've just caught up to the real Hillary and we were blinded before. And maybe America stopped being so overly judgmental of women in politics. That would be a great thing.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.
"A.C. 360" starts right now.