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Holder on the Hot Seat; Police Chief Fired; House Committee: Holder In Contempt; Kids Bully Elderly Bus Monitor

Aired June 21, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Standoff on Capitol Hill. President Obama stepping in as House Republicans turn up the heat on Attorney General Eric Holder -- all over "Fast and Furious".

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST: Washed out in Minnesota. Flash flooding wipes out roads, bridges, even a zoo.

BANFIELD: And he is off the job. City managers in Sanford, Florida, move to fire the police chief who first handled the Trayvon Martin shooting case.

Good morning. Welcome, everyone to EARLY START. Nice to have you with us. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're bringing you the news from A to Z.

It's 5:00 a.m. here in the East. Let's get started.

Up first, House committee clearing the way for Attorney General Eric Holder to be held in contempt of Congress. Holder is in Copenhagen this morning.

Yesterday, members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines to recommend citing him for contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents from the botched "Fast and Furious" gun operation -- documents that are now off limits to Republicans, and everyone else, because the president has invoked executive privilege to keep all of those documents now under wraps.

Joe Johns is live from Washington, D.C., this morning.

And, Joe, this is the first time that President Obama has used the executive privilege. I think it was President Clinton that maybe used it 14 times.

But how rare is this? And what is going to happen next to the attorney general?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It is rare, but on the other hand, presidents do it, and most presidents do it at least once or twice during the course of four years or so.

As you said, President Obama's done it once. President George W. Bush six times. Bill Clinton, 14 times. President George H.W. Bush, just once. And Ronald Reagan, three.

So all over the place, but once or twice during the course of an administration, you'll see it. So big question, I guess, what happens next?

A vote on contempt in the full House would be next, assuming there's no negotiated settlement, which is typically what happens in these cases. After that, it would be referred to the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, which, by the way, is headed by Attorney General Holder. That's the Justice Department.

So, kind of unlikely that the Justice Department would agree to prosecutor its own attorney general. That, of course, means a thing like this could be thrown into the courts which could go on for years.

So, most of the time, what you see in situations like this is some type of negotiated settlement. And the question would be whether disclosure of the information the committee is seeking could be arranged by letting just a few people look at it or narrowing the kinds of questions that are asked of a witness, something to that effect.

But still, you know, given what's going on in Washington, you could certainly see how this thing could start creeping toward the House floor as soon as next week, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Republicans are accusing the White House of a cover- up. Democrats are calling it a witch hunt.

Former presidential adviser David Gergen talked with John King last night about how this sounds to Americans.


DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: For a lot of Americans who don't understand the complexities and really don't care about the complexities, I think it's one more illustration, as if we needed anymore, that Washington is broken.


SAMBOLIN: It can be very confusing as you're watching this, right? Congress has never held a sitting attorney general in contempt. Is this political?

JOHNS: People are going to say that, certainly it's an election year. And I think lost in all of this is the attorney general's claim that releasing this information would affect ongoing investigations, ongoing prosecutions, and that's the kind of thing a court might want to actually weigh in on, if you will.

But clearly, the sides are very far apart this year, Democrats calling this a witch hunt.

Republicans saying they need to get to the bottom of it. They say they need to find out whether they need to pass other laws, for example, to make sure it doesn't happen again. The sides are very far apart on this one.

SAMBOLIN: And just unprecedented that Eric Holder is going through this as a sitting attorney general. Just incredible.

Thank you, Joe Johns. We appreciate it.

At 7:00 Eastern on "STARTING POINT," Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, will join Soledad O'Brien live. And then at 8:00, Soledad goes one on one with Iowa's Republican Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the judiciary committee.

BANFIELD: Well, if you live in the Northeast, especially if you live in the Northeast, you know it was hot, hot, hot. Sweltering hot. Ands the humidity, brutal. Temperatures are expected to break records today -- and that's why Rob Marciano does what he does, for the big story.

Man, let me tell you, this was one to get through it. I was trying to blow up the slip and slide in the backyard and nearly passed out.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, (INAUDIBLE) go jump a little bit, and may be better to do it today, Ashleigh, because it's going to be even warmer.

There were records yesterday. Some of them are tough to beat because of what we've seen in the past. But, regardless, Newark set a record of 98 degrees, 98 as well in LaGuardia. Richmond seeing 98 degrees. And Burlington, Vermont, 95.

So, even as far north as the Canadian border. Actually, Toronto set a record high.

Some video of folks just trying to stay cool. I mean, you do what you got to do in the city, right? There were cooling stations set up at some of the bigger cities. There water over the head that's always a popular number. Boy, if you can get to the beach. Oh, yes, this time of year.

The Atlantic up there, it's pretty chilly. It will cool you off in a hurry, that's for sure.

Let's look at what we saw yesterday in the big cities and what we'll see today. Boston 97. Today's forecast high, 98. Philadelphia saw 97 yesterday. Today's forecast, high 99. And in D.C. saw 98 yesterday, we may well touch 100 degrees today. I think that's a record.

You got 10 states that are in heat advisories or heat warnings. You couple in the humidity, and that makes it feel much warmer than it is. And you get sunlight, warmer than that.

So, we're looking at heat indices of about 110 or better. We will see a bit of a cool-down come Saturday or Sunday, but today especially, and tomorrow will be hot as well, it's going to be dangerously hot. So, try to stay cool out there.

BANFIELD: That's the key, right, Rob. I mean, dangerously hot. This isn't just an inconvenience. This could be lethal.

MARCIANO: Yes. Year over year, unfortunately, heat is actually the number one weather related killer out there. So, check on the elderly, your neighbors that may be sick. Those are the ones that are more susceptible.

SAMBOLIN: And the little ones also, you've got to keep them hydrated.

MARCIANO: Yes, don't lock them in the car, that's for sure.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh! Thank you. And your dogs, right? Your pets, you got to worry about that. All right. Thank you.

Six minutes past the hour here.

Water growing through the streets, leaving a seal on the road? Torrential overnight flooding forcing the evacuation of many low-lying homes and even zoo animals. This is in Duluth, Minnesota. I have friend that lives in this area, and she said it's horrific.

Zoo workers safely recovered two seals and a polar bear that managed to get out. That water wiped out the bridge, and all that rain softened up the roads, opening up a sinkhole that swallowed a car. So far, no reports of any serious injuries.

BANFIELD: After refusing to accept his resignation in the spring, there's been a change. Officials in Sanford, Florida, have now fired Police Chief Bill Lee. You might remember that he took a lot of heat for how he handled the Trayvon Martin shooting after deciding not to arrest gunman George Zimmerman.

The city managers in that city of Sanford say they dismissed him because the people of Sanford need a chief that they can trust and respect. The interim chief has been sitting in, Richard Myers, will remain on duty. He'll have that job while the department searches for Lee's replacement.

SAMBOLIN: New developments in the Trayvon Martin case. Police releasing a heart breaking 911 tape of Martin's father calling them 12 hours after his son had been shot and killed. A worried Tracy Martin was trying to file a missing persons report after his son had failed to come home.


TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: My son's up here with me, and he left -- I'm in Sanford. He don't know anybody up here.

OPERATOR: And you said it was your son that's missing?


OPERATOR: How long has he been missing for?

MARTIN: Since last night.


SAMBOLIN: Tracy Martin had no idea at the time of that call that his son's body was lying in the Sanford city morgue.

BANFIELD: Closing arguments are set to begin in just under four hours of the child sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky. The former Penn State assistant coach did not take the stand and testify yesterday before his defense team finally rested its case.

Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing ten boys over a 15-year period. The jury is expected to begin deliberating sometime after today's closing arguments.

SAMBOLIN: LeBron James has the chance to win his first NBA championship tonight as the Miami Heat take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in game five of the NBA finals. The Heat leads the Thunder 3- 1 in the best of seven series. It's the first time the Thunder have faced an elimination game during the 2012 postseason.

Miami's all-star trio -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh -- will try to clinch the championship tonight in front of their home crowd at American Airlines Arena.

Hang in there, Oklahomans, or anybody who loves that team. It could still happen. It's never happened before, but it still could happen.

BANFIELD: Don't go away.


BANFIELD: It's nine minutes now past 5:00 in the morning, on the East Coast.

Soaked but saved. Watch this video. It is absolutely remarkable. There is a couple in a waterfall, and, yes, while cool, it is extremely dangerous.

You're going to see the rescue in just a moment.


BANFIELD: It's 13 minutes past the top of the hour. We're getting an early read on local news making national headlines this morning.

A Philadelphia police officer accused of moonlighting as a heroin dealer. Guess what? Here's a big shock. He lost his day job. The Philadelphia P.D. has fired 23-year-old Jonathan Garcia. He's now facing -- what do you know -- drug and weapons charges.

Authorities say that he sold bundles of heroin to an undercover FBI agent, which is never a good thing. Never.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Oatmeal brought them together and made them millionaires. Quaker Oats workers win $241 million in the Powerball in Iowa. A total of 20 to claim the prize. They wouldn't give their names.

Here's what we do know. Their ages range from 35 to 64, and they have all been working with the company for at least 10 years. If the winners take the lump sum, they'll each get $5.6 million. That is after taxes.

BANFIELD: Good for them. They can afford an air conditioner with that, I'll tell you.

If you are looking for a terrific summer getaway, you can take a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, or you could just buy one. Buy one of the Hawaiian Islands.

SAMBOLIN: First story I heard this morning. Love this island.

BANFIELD: So, you probably heard of Larry Ellison, the billionaire CEO. He's co-founder of the tech company Oracle, and he decided to make himself a nice little purchase of 98 percent of Lanai Island. It's also called Pineapple Island.

Thirty-two thousand people live there. It's not clear how much he had to pay for the chunk of that pineapple. But the local reports say it's somewhere around $600 million. Now, you also might have heard about Larry Ellison buying what is the equivalent of little islands in the form of 400-foot yachts. He loves his yachts. He loves his mega yachts.

Now he's got something floating in the middle of the Pacific that is fabulous.

SAMBOLIN: That is an incredible island. You want to go scuba diving off of that or snorkeling, it's just incredible.

This morning, I said he just bought heaven. A slice of heaven.

All right. For an expanded look at our top stories, head to our blog,

It is 15 minutes past the hour. So, let's get you up to date. Here is Christine Romans with this morning's top stories.

Good morning to you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you too.

A House committee voting strictly along party lines, recommending Attorney General Eric holder be held in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents from the botched Fast and Furious gun operation. Documents that are now under wraps after President Obama invoked executive privilege to keep them from going public. A full House vote on the contempt citation could take place next week.

A hung jury in the Philadelphia sex abuse trial of a Catholic priest. A jury ordered them back to deliberate. They'll resume deliberations tomorrow. Yesterday, a jury informed a judge after 11 days of deliberation, they could not come to agreement on four of the five counts before them.

A bloody day in Afghanistan as the summer fighting season picks up, the last one before a significant draw down. A suicide bomber attracted U.S. and Afghan forces in a busy market in eastern Afghanistan. That massive blast killed 21 people, including 3 U.S. soldiers.

In a separate blast, Afghan officials say several women and children were killed when a car hit a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban.

Dramatic video of a waterfall rescue. A husband and wife plunged 20 feet over the Saxtons River in Vermont. The couple was fishing when the wife slipped and fell into the water. Her husband went in after her. After a current sucked both of them over the falls.

Witnesses called 911. They both suffered only minor cuts.

U.S. automakers are producing their highest quality vehicles ever. But Detroit's big three still trails their Japanese competitors. According to industry analyst. J.D. Power, of three General Motors brands -- Cadillac, Chevy, and G.M. -- are all scoring higher than the industry average for quality.

Now, the reality news. Japanese made Lexus tops the list for best quality cars. Followed by Jaguar and Porsche. The American-made Cadillac finished fourth, with Honda rounding out the top five.

Is it Porsche or Porsche? I can't afford one. I don't know how to say it.

BANFIELD: So all three of the top ones go to foreigners?

ROMANS: Yes. That's actually not surprising.

BANFIELD: I know. But it's frustrating.

ROMANS: But when you have G.M. having three of its brands able to beat the industry average, that shows you progress in the Detroit.

BANFIELD: We're making progress.

ROMANS: There you go.

BANFIELD: Guess what else we're making progress on, Romans?


BANFIELD: Gas prices. Yes, she knows. I can never stump you. You're on it.

They're going down, down, down.

Because Christine knows so much about this, we're going to make her work extra hard this morning. She's going to come back and explain why it may sound like terrific news, but there's a catch. We'll let you know what it is.


BANFIELD: Good morning. It's 22 minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast.

We are minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures down this morning, this after mixed markets closing yesterday. The Dow losing 13 points.

SAMBOLIN: And all that because of the Federal Reserve saying growth is slowing.

Christine Romans here to continue the explanation.

ROMANS: It's not so surprising the Federal Reserve is lowering its forecast for the year for the U.S. economy. If you've been watching this program, you know we've been saying we've hit a little bit of a rough patch here, the recovery is ailing, and a lot of folks are saying, when you look at the consumer, when you look at the U.S. economy, you can see some real concerns here about what's happening.

The Fed basically said that too. I mean, the Fed Chief Ben Bernanke yesterday saying that, look, the labor market is improving, but it's not improving as quickly as you would like and not improving enough for anybody to really feel it.

He did reject the idea that the Fed is out of ammunition. The Fed, you know, has been doing just amazing, some one would say Herculean things to keep the oxygen flowing in the financial system -- something called Operation Twist. They're going to do that. That's something that keeps the money pumping.

But the Fed chief saying that might not be the end of it. Listen to exactly what he said.


BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: If we don't see continued improvement in the labor market, we'll be prepared to take additional steps if appropriate.


ROMANS: So be prepared to take additional steps if appropriate. There are a few things maybe the Fed can do, but they're not doing them right now. They're extending Operation Twist and lowering the growth forecast.

Let me tell you exactly how they lower the growth forecast. GDP this year, 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent. That's not enough to make you feel better and that's not enough to really robust the growth of the jobs market.

In fact, they see the jobless unemployment rate at 8 percent to 8.2 percent. Their previous forecast was the jobless rate would fall to 7.8 percent. So, they're seeing 8 percent unemployment again here for this year. So, that still means status quo. Still tough.

And status quo and a slowing global environment means commodities you guys are going down big.

So, this is the silver lining, if you can call it that. Gas prices are going to keep going down because oil prices are back down to $80 a barrel, $80 a barrel, Remember?

BANFIELD: Wow, wow.

ROMANS: Gas prices will probably keep going down. You've got commodities down worldwide after the Fed announcement. A slowing global growth means commodities are down like oil, and cooper. Gold is down as well. The prices are down, I don't know, I think about 15 percent over just few months. We'll expect to see gas prices continue to go down as well.

BANFIELD: That unemployment number, though, that really sticks out. No modern president has been reelected with unemployment over 8 percent.

ROMANS: Seven percent.

BANFIELD: The rate was 7.2 percent.

ROMANS: Yes, right. Eight percent unemployment is tough. I mean, it's tough in an election year. It really is. And some of those battleground states have been improving, though. Maybe tomorrow or Monday, I'll do this. I'll look at the battleground states and show you that most of the unemployment rate has been --

SAMBOLIN: Remember during the primaries, you have them up.

ROMANS: Some of those unemployment in battleground states.

But, you know, 59 percent of people, according to Bank Rate, say they're going to walk into the voting booth, and they're going to vote based on their personal financial situation.

BANFIELD: That day.

ROMANS: That day.

BANFIELD: All right. Christine, thanks so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

With Congress threatening to step in, the NFL takes action. Coming up, what the league plans to do to prevent another bounty scandal.

BANFIELD: If you're leaving the house right now, not to worry. You can take us with you. News on the go, we'd like to say. You can catch us on your mobile phone. You can catch us on your desktop when you get where you're going. Just go to


SAMBOLIN: Closing arguments today in the Jerry Sandusky case. Coming up, what each side showed the jury to prove their case.

BANFIELD: A shocking case of road rage caught on camera, and you might be real surprised to find out what the man who's being beaten up had to say when it was over.

SAMBOLIN: Meet the Romney boys. The candidates' five sons on Conan O'Brien's show, and talk about what it might be like if dad becomes president.

BANFIELD: That's a lot of boys. That's a lot of kids. Coming from a mom of two boys, I can't imagine having even one more.

SAMBOLIN: Feeding them. Feeding them.

BANFIELD: There's that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: Good morning, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's nice to have you with us. Twenty-nine minutes -- oh! Thirty minutes officially now past the hour. Let's start with this, shall we?

The closing arguments just set to begin in just about three-and-a-half hours from now in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial in Pennsylvania, and everyone was on pins and needles yesterday because we were all waiting to find out if that former Penn State football coach was going to be called to the stand to testify or not. And the answer was not.

CNN national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, joining us live now in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. So, Susan, what a difference a week and a half can make. We talked going into this trial, you and I, that we were probably going to be doing this story for the next three to four weeks or so. It's only been about a week and a half, and we're already talking closing arguments.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, your mind is spinning about how quickly things went here, but this judge really kept things on track, and one is left to surmise that prosecutors thought they made their case. They didn't need any more witnesses. And apparently, the defense thought the same thing because, by the end of the day, this could very well be in the hands of the jury.

But, closing arguments beginning today, and the defense in Pennsylvania goes first. And here are the points they are most to make, try to make to jurors. They're going to reiterate some of their themes that they've made throughout their case that the accusers are liars, that they're in this only for the money, at least some of them conspired with each other.

And then, they will also turn their attention, of course, to Jerry Sandusky, himself. They will say that he suffers from a histrionic personality disorder and try to explain away what have been described as those creepy love letters saying that he's just a guy that craves a lot of attention, and that's why he wrote them.

Of course, they will concentrate on all those character witnesses that they brought before this jury to say, this is a good man. He did a lot of wonderful things for this community, and he could not have done something like this. And they will likely bring up Dottie, his wife. Jerry didn't take the stand, but his wife did, and she said that she never saw anything inappropriate happen at the house.

And then, of course, they will have to explain why Jerry, himself, didn't take the stand. They will have to address that in some way. Now, the prosecutors for their part will tell the jurors you must believe these alleged victims. You heard from eight to ten of them. They offered you riveting testimony.

They never said anything in the beginning because they were ashamed, they were afraid to come forward, and that is typical of sex abuse victims. They will also turn to the eyewitnesses like Mike McQueary, who said he saw something happen in that shower, he heard sexual sounds. He didn't ask for this. He walked in on this.

They will argue, listen to that janitor, who spoke to one of his colleagues, who was so shook up like Jerry Sandusky, that this janitor testified that his colleague -- he thought he was going to have a heart attack because of what he saw. And they will offer their own explanation for the letters that, in their view, their expert said that this shows that Jerry Sandusky had a psychosexual disorder and that he was highly manipulative.

And, of course, finally, they will address Jerry Sandusky's character. Yes, they will say, very likely, that a lot of people came to speak on his behalf, but Jerry Sandusky has a good side, and we will present to you that he has a dark side. These are the themes that they have tried to stress throughout.

BANFIELD: And one of the things that was not on that list is that NBC excerpted video interview that Bob Costas did with Jerry Sandusky prior to the trial. The jury heard part of it. The stuff that originally aired, but the jury did not hear the other part of it, the stuff that did not air in the original interview.

Let me play for our audience what that very significant piece of the interview was, and then I want to ask you about it on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I didn't go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I've helped. There are many that I didn't have -- I hardly had any contact with who I have helped in many, many ways.


BANFIELD: I think -- you know, Susan, I think a lot of people will be very surprised to find out that the jury did not get to see that little piece of information, and they should not have been watching NBC when they aired that last week. But why couldn't the jury see that in the courtroom?

CANDIOTTI: Well, prosecutors, it's possible that they didn't know about that until it was eventually aired, and they subpoenaed that tape. We don't know the exact reason, but we do know this. At the point it was subpoenaed by prosecutors, experts tell us that only -- if Jerry Sandusky had taken the stand, they needed an opening like that in order to bring that tape in to play for the jurors.

Because that didn't happen, that might be one reason why they weren't allowed to in their other testimony, in their defense case, since he didn't testify, prosecutors didn't have that kind of a reason to put it into the record.

And they also, frankly, may have been worried because they didn't put him on to testify because of the troubles that Jerry Sandusky has had in previous interviews. Something could have gone wrong if they put him on the stand.

BANFIELD: Smart lawyers all call that beyond the scope of direct. Susan Candiotti, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-five minutes past the hour. A full house vote to find Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress could be held next week. Yesterday, a House committee voted strictly along party lines to recommend Holder be held in contempt for failing to turnover documents from the failed "Fast and Furious" gun operation.

Republican congressmen, Darrell Issa, telling reporters there's still a chance next week's vote could be called off.


REP. DARRELL ISSA, (R) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM CMTE.: It is my position on the committee that if we're given the documents we've been seeking, that I will ask for there not to be a vote on the floor.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAMBOLIN: President Obama is backing Holder, invoking executive privilege yesterday to keep those "Fast and Furious" documents from being released.

BANFIELD: So, if I had a dollar for every time somebody said hot enough for you, I would not be getting up at 2:00 in the morning to come into work, let me tell you that. I'm kidding. I love being here with you. What I don't love is the temperature outside the New York City right now. There's a live picture of Central Park. And are you ready for this?

It's only 36 minutes past 5:00 in the a.m. here in New York City, and it's already 80 degrees plus. The thermometer reached 94 yesterday and that doesn't include the heat index, which smart people like Rob Marciano figure out all the time. And I think it took us, what, over 100 degrees, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and I'll do that again today. Boy, you can just see in that picture. Obviously, when you walk outside, you can feel it, you're wearing it, and it's the hottest and more humid stuff that we've seen since July of last year. So, yes, it feels even worse than that.

Let's look at what we had yesterday across the bigger cities, Boston, New York, Philly, D.C., and we're going to see today. Ninety-seven in Boston yesterday, should hit 99 today. New York City at Central Park, 94, but LaGuardia hit a record at 98, Newwark hit a record at 98 as well. Ninety-nine degrees today.

D.C., 98 yesterday. It will touch 100 today, will cool down a little bit. There's weak cool front coming through tomorrow, but the problem is, and Ashleigh pointed this out, is we're already at 80 degrees in many spots. Eighty-one degrees the current temperature. I don't think we dipped below that across New York last night.

Eighty degrees currently in Boston. With the humidity, it feels even warmer than that. So, off to a head start. Impossible to cool down, certainly, if you don't have air conditioning. And this heat goes all the way north of the border into Canada. So, folks who don't even have air conditioning are dealing with it as well.

So, here you go, heat warnings and watches are out for a good chunk of the northeast, about ten states in all. And then, again, we'll cool down a little bit. It's 83 degrees in Chicago. The rest of the country is not too shabby. So, some of this area will eventually get to the northeast but not until tomorrow. Really not until Saturday or Sunday. So, do your best to stay cool.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Rob, thank you very much.

It's 38 minutes past the hour. NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, says he is taking steps to prevent bounties for players who injure their opponents. Goodell met Wednesday with Illinois senator, Dick Durbin. The NFL boss says he has established an anonymous tip line where players can report bounties. And a new section covering bounties have been added to the NFL players handbook as well. Senator Durbin says the league's actions have convinced him to put aside plans for a hearing.

And coming up later this morning on "Starting Point," former New York giant, Tiki Barber, will tell us if he thinks the NFL is going far enough to crack down on those player bounties.

BANFIELD: A radio talk show host is refusing to back away from a racist on air comment that she made about President Obama. Her name is Barbara Espinosa. She hosts a radio show called "Hair on Fire."

It's on the Phoenix radio station, KFNX. I want you to listen for yourself. She responds to a caller who calls in to say something about the president as the rabbit ears guy.


VOICE OF BARBARA ESPINOSA, KFNX HOST: I call him a monkey. I don't call him guy with rabbit ears. I call him a monkey. And I call him -- I don't believe in calling him the first Black president. I think he should -- I voted for the White guy myself.


BANFIELD: Whoa! OK. So, she is not apologizing for this. And in a blog post, she wrote this, "Unless, there has been a takeover of America and free speech is no longer allowed and I can be put to death for making a remark, I refuse to take the fifth." I'm not sure anybody is asking her to take the fifth. I think they're asking her not to take the fifth and explain herself, but she won't.

SAMBOLIN: All right. I need to warn you that this next video is a bit graphic. The victim of a brutal highway beating says he is not pressing charges against his attackers. Take a look at this video. It is horrific. Jerry Patterson says the fight escalated after he accidentally cut off a Volkswagen on the I-5.

This is in downtown L.A. He says he apologized, but apparently, that was not good enough. The driver of the Volkswagen blocked Patterson on the freeway. He says he had nowhere to go so tried to fight back.


JERRY PATTERSON, ROAD RAGE VICTIM: Guys I grew up with used to beat me up worse than that. So, it's no big deal. They're cowards. You know, you never kick a man when they're down.


SAMBOLIN: Goodness. They are kicking him while he's down. And it seems like he's not moving like maybe he's unconscious. Patterson says he now wishes he would have called police instead of getting out of his car. Officers are currently searching for his attackers.

BANFIELD: All right. Here's something else that we want to play for you, and it's really tough to watch. It's even harder to listen to this. A group of middle school kids brutally harassing, verbally assaulting an elderly school bus monitor.

It is so bad that they make this woman cry, and one of the students decided to post the disturbing video online. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, you're so fat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you're so fat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're so fat. You take up the whole dang seat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god, you're so fat you're freaking sweating.




BANFIELD: We've had to edit that down, can I just tell you. This thing went on for ten minutes.

The foul language that came out of these middle schoolers' mouths, the things that they said to 68-year-old, Karen Klein (ph), who, by the way, is a hearing impaired grandmother, who's worked for the Greece Central School District in upstate New York for 23 years, can't be repeated, not on morning television, not on any television.

This from middle schoolers. She couldn't even hear all of this hideous taunting until she watched the video. Have a look.


KAREN KLEIN, BUS MONITOR: For no reason, they just started in with us. I still don't know why. And I sat there and took it until they got off the bus. I don't know if I wanted to see them face-to-face again. I doubt it.


BANFIELD: The school officials have said that all of the students involved are going to face disciplinary action. They've also referred this matter to the police. In the meantime, Miss Klein has received a lot of support, not just from her school district, not just from people in New York, all over the world.

There's a website that's raising money to send her on a vacation. And can you believe this? So far, it has raised $100,000 for Karen Klein.

SAMBOLIN: You know, that whole story is on And she says one of the most painful things that the kids said, they said to her that she does not have family because they all killed themselves because they did not want to be near you.

BANFIELD: It is unbelievable. At first I thought this would be a teenage -- when I watched this 10-minute video --

SAMBOLIN: Middle schoolers, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: These are middle schoolers.

SAMBOLIN: Very sad.

BANFIELD: The language, the sexual nature of the language coming out of their mouths, the continued harassment, and those tears that you saw from this bus monitor fueled the fire. It didn't have any impact on these kids whatsoever.

SAMBOLIN: No. One of them actually started poking her with a book.

BANFIELD: She has a hearing aid as well, and they kept hitting it and tapping it.

SAMBOLIN: I hope it's not just the school district, but the parents also take action against their own children. I mean, this is just remarkable.

BANFIELD: It's -- you really need to go online and take a look at this video on


BANFIELD: It might be a sign of the times about what bullying is really like and the lengths that kids think they can go with grown-ups, let alone kids.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Forty-three minutes past the hour here.

If you absolutely have to go to the hospital, it helps to live near a really good one. The states with the best hospitals. We have that full list for you coming up.


BANFIELD: Forty-seven minutes now past 5:00 in the a.m. on the east coast. Let's get you up to date with top stories. Christine Romans.


ROMANS (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) the committee voted along party lines to recommend Holder be held in contempt for failing to turn over documents from the failed "Fast and Furious" gun operation.

Republican congressman, Darrell Issa, says a full House vote on the contempt citation could be called off if the justice department agrees to turn over those documents.

Status update, registered sex offender? A new law now requires all sex offenders in Louisiana to disclose their status on Facebook and other social media. Prosecutors admit the new law won't necessarily prevent sex crimes but provides another way to crack down on convicted predators who fail to register.

Think moms are looking a little older? Well, actually, you're right. A new report shows pregnancy rates for 20-somethings dropped nearly 18 percent from 1990 to 2008. Abortion rates fell by 32 percent.

The study credits the change to women delaying starting a family, combined with the use of more effective birth control. Also in this report, teen pregnancy rates fell 42 percent, and teen abortion rates were down 59 percent.

If you're going to get sick, live in New England. A non-profit group has released the first ever hospital safety score, which grades hospitals from across the country. Massachusetts ranked number one. Seventy-six percent of hospitals getting an "A." Maine was next on the list with 74 percent.

Other top states in the top five include Vermont, Illinois, Tennessee. There are some doctors, though, criticizing this study saying that, hey, the grades are flawed. According to the National Institutes of Health, 50,000 to 100,000 patients die in U.S. hospitals every year because of preventable safety lapses, mistakes.

Mitt Romney's five sons making an appearance last night on Conan, Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig Romney doing their best to humanize their dad. Oldest brother, Tagg, telling Conan a story about his prank loving father pulling a fast (ph) on a friend who was about to tie the knot.


TAGG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: The grooms outfit was there. He took some pink nail polish and wrote on the first shoe H-E on the sole and the next one L-P. And no one noticed it. But then, when he -- it was a catholic wedding. And when he knelt down to be blessed by the father, the words "help" appeared.


(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Oh, well, that's funny. Romney's son, Josh, admitted to Conan, he and his brothers are nervous about what their life will be like if their father becomes president. He says, hey, they recognize it would be good for the country but not necessarily so good for them.


ROMANS (on-camera): And you know, people, people in business world, too, you guy have said often that he was a real prankster, you know?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes.

ROMANS: But you don't really get that much on the campaign trail. He's very focused.

SAMBOLIN: You know, if you look online, you'll find some of those pranks his wife.

BANFIELD: Far with that guy's wife, though, with the "help" thing, that would be the end. That would be the end.

SAMBOLIN: I thought it was funny.

BANFIELD: From day one of the marriage. Funny for the audience. (INAUDIBLE) are you kidding me? Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: So, coming up, do you ever click "check in" on your Facebook.


BANFIELD: You don't?


BANFIELD: I don't either.

SAMBOLIN: I don't want to do that.

BANFIELD: Apparently, a lot of people do.


SAMBOLIN: I don't want to do that.

BANFIELD: If I did it right now, I'd be in the Time Warner Center in New York City in studio. So, if you have been wondering where the most popular places are where people check in, we have it. We have the official tally from Facebook, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SAMBOLIN: It is time to check what's trending on the web. The royal trio. Prince William turns 30 today, which means he is expected to get access to a $15.5 million inheritance.


SAMBOLIN: Yes. That was left for him by his late mother, Princess Diana.


SAMBOLIN: So, the duchess of Cambridge going all teen romance on him for his big trio. She reportedly made a scrapbook of every holiday they've ever spent together, and also she made him a mix tape or the 2012 version of one.


SAMBOLIN: -- of songs that have special meaning to them. It's a 2012 version there. It's very sweet. He looks a lot older than 30.

BANFIELD: Oh, I don't think so.

SAMBOLIN: To me, yes.

BANFIELD: He's got a receding hairline, but I just still think of him as that little kid coming out of the hospital, you know, with Lady Diana, the new Princess Diana.

Late night laughs for you. One of our favorite segments to go to the late night shows and show you what happened. And last night was a zinger. Alec Baldwin, a really unique way to divert the attention from that whole paparazzi shakedown moments, the beat down.

David Letterman not wanting to be upstaged. Let's just say it involves dropping of the pants, et cetera. Take a look.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I don't want to change the subject there, Paul. It was such an artful entrance. But you were talking about swimsuit season, correct? And for me, I've been trying to diet. I lost so much weight.


BALDWIN: But the problem is that none of my clothes fit me so, if you put your hands in your pockets, your pants come down.


BALDWIN: Take them off! Take them off! Take them off! (END VIDEO CLIP)


BANFIELD: Oh, man.

SAMBOLIN: I thought they were going to compare legs. Are they comparing legs?

BANFIELD: OK. First of all, what is with the white socks?


BANFIELD: What's with the white knee highs, Letterman?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my --


SAMBOLIN: Clearly, this was an extemporaneous moment.

BANFIELD: Good gracious. What I love is that Baldwin doesn't even know he's doing it, right? Baldwin thinks he's got the whole camera stage to himself. He has no idea what's going on behind him, and he turns around and see he's being chased by a man in his 60s.

All right. So, by the way, Baldwin did go on to talk about the punching incident and say he didn't punch anybody. He said that that photographer had almost hit him in the teeth with his camera. And that was his excuse for what happened.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Hey, college football fans, finally, the news you've been waiting for. Coming up, details on the brand new playoff system. You're watching EARLY START.