Return to Transcripts main page
STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
President Invokes Executive Privilege over Documents Concerning ATF Gun Running Program; Presidential Candidates to Speak Latino Organization; Joe the Plumber Compares Gun Control with the Holocaust; The Immigration Debate; Will Romney Enter Immigration Debate?; Decision Day For Supreme Court; States With Safest Hospitals; Beer Belly Babies?; Halle Berry Pays Up; A Letter From The NRA; Kids Bully Elderly Bus Monitor; NFL Will Establish Bounty Hotline
Aired June 21, 2012 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, contempt or compromise. After a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, we're examining the facts and looking at the odds of it actually happening.
Heat and high water to tell you about this morning, the northeast sweating through the start of the summer and flash floods wiping out roads, bridges, and even a zoo.
And big moves on the gridiron, Congress deciding if it will investigate the NFL bounty scandal and colleagues finally weigh in on the potential playoff system. Former Giants great, Tiki Barber, is going to join us this morning.
And our "Get Real," Joe the Plumber suggests that gun control is what caused the holocaust as he shoots a tomato. A pack show this morning along with Tiki Barber, the NRA executive vice president Wayne La Pierre is going to join us, Sylvia Garcia will be with us, and Congressman Elijah Cummings will talk to you about the Holder contempt vote. It is Thursday, June 21st and STARTING POINT begins right now.
Welcome, everybody. Our starting point, partisan politics and a sitting U.S. attorney general caught in the cross fire. Eric Holder is in Copenhagen this morning. Yesterday a house committee voted to recommend citing him for contempt of Congress for not turning over documents from that botched fast and furious gun operation. You will remember that program allowed guns to end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels and is connected to the death of at least one U.S. law enforcement officer. Those documents are now off limits to Republicans and everybody else because the president has invoked executive privilege to keep them under wraps. It brings us to Joe Johns live from Washington, D.C. this morning. Good morning.
JOE JOHNS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad, the contempt issue moves to the full House of Representatives as early as neck week. Holder is the first Obama administration official to be held in contempt by congressional committee. The point man on all of this for the Republicans, of course, is Chairman Darrell Issa. He talked about what he wants from the justice department. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA, (D) CALIFORNIA: It is my position of the committee that if we're given the documents we have been seeking, that I will ask for there not to be a vote on the floor. Our direction has always been not about any one individual but about in fact the documents required.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: It is also the Obama administration's first assertion of executive privilege. Holder responded to the vote in the committee just yesterday. He said "I met with Chairman Issa to offer additional internal department documents and information that would satisfy what he identified as the committee's single outstanding question. Unfortunately Chairman Issa rejected all of those efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation. Instead he's chosen to use his authority to take an extraordinarily unprecedented and unnecessary action intended to invoke unavoidable conflict."
What happens next, a vote on contempt in the full house would be next assuming there is no negotiated settlement which is typically what happens in these cases. After that, it will be referred to of all places the United States attorney for the district of Columbia who works for the justice department headed by Attorney General Holder. Very unlikely the justice department would agree to prosecute their own attorney general. That throws it all into the courts. And if they don't get an agreement they could go on for years with this, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Joe Johns updating us there. Thank you, Joe, appreciate it.
Right to Christine Romans with a look at some of the other stories making news this morning. I want to remind everybody we're going to be talking more about that particular store with Elijah Ccummings, my guest in just a moment.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk about the brutal heat wave striking the northeast. Temperatures expected to break records again today. Meteorologist Rob Marciano here with the details.
ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: We're off to a fast start. Already 82 in the big apple and doesn't include humidity. Humidity does not allow your body to breathe basically. Temperatures yesterday were records, 97 in Boston, 99 today maybe, and 94 central park, 99 expected today. So we'll be a couple degrees warmer today. If you thought yesterday was hot, today even hotter heat advisories and warning for 10 states across the northeast. There is a little bit of relief coming but really not until late tomorrow and really not until Saturday and Sunday. There is a slow moving front and huge rain in Duluth and finally getting some cooler and dryer air in Chicago. The next two days or day and a half across the northeast will be brutal.
ROMANS: You mentioned Duluth. In Minnesota it wasn't heat but high water roaring through the streets leaving a seal on the road. Torrential overnight flooding in Duluth is forcing the evacuation of low lying homes and even zoo animals. Zoo workers safely recovered two seals and a polar bear that managed to escape. The water wiping out a bridge and all of that softening up the roads and on opening up a sink hole that swallowed a car. No reports of serious injuries. We'll have a live report next hour.
Closing arguments less than two hours away in the child sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky. The defense rested yesterday without calling the former Penn State football coach to testify. Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing ten boys over a 15 year period. The jury is expected to begin deliberating after today's closing arguments.
After refusing to accept his resignation in April, city managers have fired Police Chief Bill Lee. Lee came under fire for his handling of the Trayvon Martin shooting after deciding not to arrest gunman George Zimmerman. The interim chief will remain on the job while searching for a replacement.
Middle school kids brutally harassing and bullying an elderly school bus monitor so bad they made her cry. One of the students posted the disturbing video online.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god, you're so fat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're fat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're so fat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god, your glasses are fogging.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's funny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is there water on your face?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am crying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: The relentless bullying went on for nearly 10 minutes. Karen Kline, a hearing impaired grandmother has worked for the Central School District in upstate New York for 23 years. Support for Kline is pouring in from all over the world. A website is raising funds to send her on vacation and so far raised more than $100,000. And so far all of the children who were doing that taunting have been identified and even the police have been called in now to take a look.
O'BRIEN: It is so brutal to watch that entire thing. It goes on for 10 minutes. They're awful, awful, awful, really words don't describe it accurately. Thank you for the update. Back to the top story this morning, Attorney General Eric Holder could be held in contempt of Congress after a party line today by the house oversight committee. The recommendation goes to the full house. Congressman Elijah Cummings is the ranking Democrat on the house oversight committee joining me. Nice to see you as always. Did you know before it happened the president would assert his executive privilege in this case?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: We knew about a half an hour before it was done.
O'BRIEN: You were not surprised it came as a surprise to a lot of people. What do you think about the president doing that?
CUMMINGS: I thought the president had no choice. First of all, this is a situation that could have been avoided if the Republicans had been a little bit reasonable. He had no choice. These were deliberative documents that all attorney generals have held close and not released. This attorney general released about 1,000 of those documents voluntarily, and Mr. Issa wanted more and more.
And as the attorney general said in the meeting last Friday, this is his watch. He had to do what attorney generals have done overall the years that attorney generals have been in existence, that is protect the office. And basically that's what the president did. He had to inject himself into the process.
O'BRIEN: Congressman Issa said that Eric Holder told him the other day it was about embarrassment. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has been a tendency on the part of this administration to try to hide behind executive privilege.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: My apologies, sir. That obviously is not the right clip. Do we have that, guys? This is Chairman Issa. I will read it, if I can. He said "I can tell you he told me just last night that many of these documents he was willing to have us obtain if we agree to settle the case would be very embarrassing. You were in that meeting." Is that correct? Is that what Eric Holder told him?
CUMMINGS: I didn't hear that. I did not hear that. Again, Chairman Issa said several things that I didn't hear in the meeting. I was there the entire time. I think clearly this was a situation where attorney general has cooperated to the nth degree, and the only thing he asked for is that we come to some type of conclusion with regard to this contempt situation. And again what this happened yesterday was extreme, Soledad. I understand in all of the years in existence of the Congress no attorney general has been brought up for contempt in the House. And basically I think you have once again the far right of this party pushing and pushing and I just find it extremely alarming that we have gotten to this point and it is very unfortunate.
O'BRIEN: There are Republicans that would say asserting executive privilege is an indication that maybe the White House was involved. Is that how you read it?
CUMMINGS: Not at all. I think this is a situation where this president has done what presidents have done for years, and again, it seems as if when he does it, or when Eric Holder does what attorney generals have done, suddenly it is a major criminal case and has to be taken to the floor of the House.
Keep in mind back in the 1990s Janet Reno was voted for contempt in a committee, but even Newt Gingrich said, no, we cannot take this to the floor of the House. So this is -- we are seeing the far right operating at its very best.
O'BRIEN: President Obama is not the first president to use executive privilege, as you well know, although this is the first time he is claiming it. When President Bush used it for his sixth time, the president, Obama, then a senator, said he talked about he thought that it was about coming clean, not to use executive privilege because the people deserved to hear and it was about coming clean. It sounds like he is contradicting himself in that position now that he is not a senator and he is the president.
CUMMINGS: Not at all. We have a situation here -- keep in mind what I just said. This attorney general voluntarily released 1,000 pages of deliberative communications. That's unprecedented. In other words, he bent over backwards to give the Republicans what they want.
But understand, this is not about the facts. This is about politics. Anybody who looks at this, knows that. The chairman made up his mind and this is the result that I guess he wanted and now we see where we are. Again, this could have been avoided, just if the chairman had been the least bit reasonable.
O'BRIEN: Elijah Cummings is a congressman, Democrat from the state of Maryland. Nice to see you as always. Appreciate your time.
CUMMINGS: My pleasure.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, Mitt Romney facing a Latino test. Can he win over Hispanic voters? We'll talk to the president of the national Latino group he will be speaking to today.
Our "Get Real" this morning going to Joe the plumber. He is really tying gun control to genocide?
He liked the island so much, he bought it. The CEO who now owns a huge chunk of Hawaii. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.
ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Minding your business this morning, Fed Chief Ben Bernanke says the U.S. economy is slowing down. The Fed expects the economy to grow at a rate of 1.9 to 2.4 percent this year, down from 2.9. And the unemployment rate is expected to be higher than first thought, between 8 and 8.2 percent. The Fed chief also announced the extension of the Fed's Operation Twist stimulus program and extend that to the end of the year. It wasn't enough to give the markets a boost. The Fed's warning is mushing markets lower worldwide. U.S. stock futures are trading lower and Dow down about 30 points now.
The third richest man in the U.S. just spent a small chunk of his billions on a tropical paradise get away. He bought his own Hawaiian island. He is the CEO of tech company Oracle and he purchased 98 percent of Lanai island, also called pineapple island. Local reports say it cost him around $600 million. It is beautiful. You can see it from Maui. It is one of the treasured Hawaiian islands.
O'BRIEN: That is quite nice. Reminds me why I should have been a billionaire. I, too, could buy my own island. Cross that off the list of things possible.
ROMANS: Not on the shopping list.
O'BRIEN: Darn. Thanks, Christine. Appreciate it.
It is one of the most anticipated Supreme Court decisions that could shake up the 2012 presidential race. Today the high court could rule on Arizona's immigration enforcement law. The court issue, do states have the power to enact their own immigration policies. It could come as president Obama and Mitt Romney try to court the U.S.'s estimated 12 million Hispanic voters. They're both going to be addressing the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Orlando. Mitt Romney is expected to speak today, president is expected to speak tomorrow. That brings us to Sylvia Garcia, she's the president of NALEO. Thank you for talking with us. I know NALEO is non-partisan, but you're a Democrat. What do you want to hear from the candidates as they address your organization?
SYLVIA GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NALEO: Good morning. It is great to be here in the sunshine state to kick off the convention and we're all anxiously awaiting both the president and governor Romney. Governor Romney will speak today and we're going to sit and listen and hope that he does address all the issues that really impact Latino families and Latino communities throughout this country.
O'BRIEN: So give me some of those issues. Obviously what people I think often point to is immigration. I think if you look at the actual polling, Latinos vote on issues like the economy and other issue that is people who are not Latino also have on the top of their list. How important do you think immigration will be to both of these candidates if you will and the president and Mitt Romney?
GARCIA: Well, you're absolutely right. It is more than immigration. I think that the thing that probably is in everyone's mind in the Latino community is just like all Americans, the economy. It's about having good jobs and that keep families together and also about access to health care and to health insurance. It is also about a good system of education. And, of course, as you mentioned it is also about immigration and full comprehensive immigration reform. O'BRIEN: So let's talk about that. You know well about the president's plan for young immigrants and young illegal immigrants in this country. Do you think what he has done over the last week will be significant enough to pull more voters to him?
GARCIA: Well, I think it was a very important step. It was very significant, particularly for all of our students, our dreamers who have been dreaming about this day. And it came and it was a very monumental step for us.
But we also recognize that the pathway to citizenship and full immigration reform is still a battle that continues, and we will work with the administration. We will work with the department of homeland security to make sure we find something that works and that works to make sure that everyone does have a pathway to citizenship and that we take people out of the shadows all over this country.
O'BRIEN: Mitt Romney has been a little unclear about whether he supports a policy. I will play you a chunk of a standard answer he has been given when pressed about it. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It would be over taken by events if you will by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals such that they know what the setting will be and understand just for the term of the president but a permanent basis.
With regards to the law and the capacity to do what's been proposed or what he has asked the department of homeland security to do that. It is something we'll let the lawyers and I presume it will be challenged in the courts determine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: He hasn't exactly said, yes, I support the policy or, no, I think the policy is wrong. Do you think that will have impact that he gets from NALEO today?
GARCIA: I think that is the number one question this morning. We were advised by the campaign that he is going to use this opportunity to clarify his position. It has evolved, and we know he had a rough primary, and we're anxious to see what he says. I think everyone will be at the lunch today with great anticipation to see what he says, not only about full comprehensive immigration reform but particularly the dream act and the policy change of last week.
O'BRIEN: Sylvia Garcia is the president of NALEO joining us this morning. Nice to have you. Thanks for being with me. I appreciate it.
GARCIA: Sure. Thank you for having me.
O'BRIEN: You bet. Still ahead on STARTING POINT. A big change coming to college football, winning a national championship could literally be a whole new ball game.
And say it ain't so, Joe. Joe the plumber is comparing gun control to one of the greatest atrocities in in history. Is it time for him to get real? Our starting point team is heading in. We have Celeste Headlee joining us, Margaret Hoover as well, and Will Cain. And we always start with Margaret's playlist, "Shiny Happy People." Are you shiny and happy today? Yes, as always.
ROMANS: Welcome back to starting point. I'm Christine Romans with some quick headlines. A big change for college football. The NCAA's top athletic conference proposing a four-team playoff system to determine the national college football champion. The group will make a presentation to BCS officials today in Washington. If approved, the playoff system would begin in 2014.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell meeting with Dick Durbin of Illinois to talk bounties. The NFL boss taking steps to stop the controversial practice saying he established an anonymous tip line where players can report problems. And a new seconds covering bounties has also been added to the player's handbook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bounties are not a part of football. We don't believe they should be part of sports. We have taken very strong action to make sure they're not a part of sports going forward and that the integrity of the game and the safety of our players is paramount.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Senator Durbin says the league's actions have convinced him to put aside plans for a congressional hearing and possible legislative action. Coming up, former NFL player Tiki Barber will tell us if he thinks they're going far enough.
LeBron James has a 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 three games to one in a best of seven series. They will try to clinch the championship is tonight in front of the home crowd at American airlines arena. Soledad?
O'BRIEN: Yay. I am dying to see this game. I can't wait. I can't wait. Go, team. How much money did we put on this.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Like a dollar, I think.
O'BRIEN: That's true. I only bet a dollar. I really only do dollar bets. That doesn't mean it will not moral authority when I win.
O'BRIEN: I agree. This better work out. Other members of our team this morning, Margaret Hoover is with us, the author of "American Individualism," and Celeste Headlee. Let's talk about Joe the plumber. No, he is not gone. He is back.
MARGARET HOOVER, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN INDIVIDUALISM": He is running for Congress.
O'BRIEN: You remember his real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher and here is what he is saying in the new campaign video. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1939 Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945 6 million Jews and 7 million others unable to defend themselves.
I love America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: OK, so he is linking Nazi gun control to the holocaust and the death of 6 million Jews and now the national Jewish Democratic council demanding he apologize and he is disrespecting the millions killed in the holocaust and he is not saying it caused the holocaust but he does quote Hitler in a tweet. He wrote that his agenda would not be possible unless the people were disarmed and goes onto say "Facts, liberals, hate them and ignore them."
Samuel, Samuel, Samuel. And his campaign spokesperson weighs in and says blacks couldn't own guns in the south during slavery.
CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST, "THE TAKEAWAY": It is problematic when you make the extremely volatile comparisons and saying later no, I wasn't saying that. It is not a good idea. Could we just declare a rule, stop talking about what caused the holocaust or slavery.
O'BRIEN: And connecting it to your local political race ever, ever.
HEDLEY: Jon Stewart says stop calling people Hitler except for Hitler.
O'BRIEN: I agree.
HEDLEY: Probably we need to come up with the rule it is not a good idea.
O'BRIEN: Would you draft it and we can run it through congress?
HEDLEY: It would be 140 characters at a time.
O'BRIEN: You know, Joe is a student of history. He didn't say a good student of history. He just said a student of history.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on starting point, the NRA pushing lawmakers to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in connection with operation fast and furious. We'll talk to NRA executive vice president Wayne La Pierre and a few drinks during pregnancy, OK or is it not? I fully support that by the way. Here is Celeste's playlist, Dean Martin, really old school. You're watching STARTING POINT.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. In just a few minutes, the NRA Executive Vice President Wayne Lapierre is going to be talking to us live. We are going to ask him why the NRA is pushing lawmakers to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
The Senate convinced that the NFL is doing enough to deal with the bounties. We're going to talk to Giant's great Tiki Barber asked if he agrees with that.
So welcome back to STARTING POINT. I want to get to a look at the headlines. First, Christine has got that for us. Hi, Christine.
ROMANS: Thanks, Soledad. Everyone watching the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference in Orlando today is where the presidential candidate, Mitt Romney will be speaking and many are wondering if he will counter President Obama's recent executive order on immigration.
In a recent Gallup poll, Romney is trailing the president in Latino voters by 42 points. CNN's Jim Acosta live from the conference in Lake Buenavista, Florida this morning. Jim, can we expect Romney to talk immigration?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That is a safe bet, Christine. The Romney campaign held a conference call with reporters yesterday. A policy director on that call said Mitt Romney will be some making news today.
He will be talking about a few new things is the way they described it on immigration and the reason why that is happening is because Mitt Romney is carved out a pretty conservative hard line stance on the issue.
And as you mentioned just a few moments ago, he is trailing President Obama among Latinos by a wide margin no matter what poll you look at these days. He is really trailing the president by a significant margin among Hispanic voters and there is a reason why.
Latino leaders will tell you it is because of some of the positions that he has taken on immigration. Take a look at some of the examples that came out during the campaign of where Mitt Romney stood on some of these issues.
He vowed to veto the Dream Act. He opposed tuition breaks for the children of undocumented workers who may be in college at that time. He also advocated what he called self deportation, meaning people who are in the country illegally should go back to their country of origin and that the country should design and craft laws to encourage that kind of self deportation.
But then came what happened last Friday when the president came out and announced a new policy on the deportations of very young undocumented immigrants in this country, people who have been college, in high school, in the military.
And that caused the Romney campaign to sort of reassess things and Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, the top Republican in the Senate was asked about this, why haven't many Republicans in the Senate taken a position on what the president has had to say?
And he basically said that a lot of Republicans are waiting to see what Mitt Romney has to say later on today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: I think we'll wait until we hear what Governor Romney has to say on the issue. There may be others behind me who want to address it, but my view is he is the leader of our party from now until November. And we hope beyond and we're going to wait and see what he has to say about it and be happy to respond to that at that point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Jim Acosta with audio problems there for us. He is at the NALEO conference and we'll have news for us when it happens, when Mitt Romney make any comments about immigration.
In Washington, it's decision day for the Supreme Court. Today, the justices could issue their opinion on constitutional challenges to the president's Affordable Health Care Act and Arizona's controversial immigration law.
But if they don't really today, Monday will be the next day to watch. The justices heard arguments on both topics earlier this year.
A non-profit group has released the first ever hospital safety score, which grades hospitals from across the country and let's just say you will want to live in Massachusetts maybe.
That state ranking number one with 76 percent of hospitals getting an A. Maine was next on the list with 74 percent and the other states in the top five for hospital quality, Vermont, Illinois, and Tennessee. There are some doctors criticizing the study though saying the grades are flawed.
All right, have you ever seen a pregnant woman taking a drink, a woman in a bar and you cringed? Well, a new study out of Denmark has actually found that drinking alcohol while pregnant may not be as dangerous as originally thought.
It suggests that drinking one to four drinks a week and even five to eight drinks a week might be OK. However, the study has a few caveats and not show be taken as a free pass to drink while pregnant.
Bottom line, there are still no definitive answer on how much is too much and a lot of ob-gyns have been pretty cautious on this.
A California judge has ordered Halle Berry to pay $20,000 a month in child support to her ex-boyfriend, model, Gabriel Aubrey. Last April, Aubrey asked a judge to award him $15,000 to $20,000 a month to cover housing costs and other expenses.
Aubrey says he wants the four-year-old daughter to remain in the kind of surroundings to which she has become accustom when had she stays with him.
O'BRIEN: That's serious money. Thanks, Christine. Appreciate it.
The National Rifle Association is putting pressure on lawmakers to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The House Oversight Committee has voted to site Holder in contempt and the issue is expected to go to the full House next week.
The NRA has said it would be scoring the vote and in a letter to members of the committee this week, NRA Executive Director Chris Cox wrote this, the reason we support the contempt resolution is the same reason we first called for Attorney General Holder's resignation more than a year ago, the department's obstruction of congressional oversight of a program that cost lives in support of an antigun agenda.
Holder is accused of withholding documents from the Justice Department's botched "Fast and Furious" program and that program let guns fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels and were used eventually in the death of a U.S. border patrol agent.
Wayne Lapierre is the executive vice president of the NRA and joins us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with me. Appreciate it.
Based on the letter that you would like this to go to a full vote in Congress and that you would like to see the attorney general held in contempt, is that right?
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NRA: Yes. We want the truth out. I mean, something must stink to high heaven in these papers for the administration to be willing to walk into this briar patch.
I mean, executive privilege is the last gasp of a cover up. What are they hiding? We need the truth. It looks like the only way we'll get it is if we proceed with this contempt.
I think the attorney general ought to resign. I think they ought to be a special prosecutor to tell you the truth because a cover up is a crime.
O'BRIEN: You have called for his resignation before. If it is a cover up, have you seen in the past other presidents using executive privilege, so maybe some people who would side with the administration on this would say it is not about a cover up, it is about politics and purely politics, exhibit A, the vote along party lines in the committee.
LAPIERRE: Well, it is about politics. It is about the politics of this administration. I believe what this is about and why they won't release these papers is what "Fast and Furious" was about was a political attack on the second amendment of the United States, to heck with some botched sting operation.
The fact is that that's what the administration is trying to hide. That is what they don't want people to find out. The president wants to lead people to believe he is not attacking the second amendment.
I believe these papers will show that they were doing everything to attack the second amendment and the gun and hunting states are going to decide this election, and this administration cannot afford that out before the election.
O'BRIEN: Mr. Lapierre, hold it right there for one second while I talk to my panelists here. You're shaking your head no. Is what he is saying not true?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, I have no idea what's in the documents that Eric Holder is refusing to hand over, but there are documents that legally because of confidentiality agreements you can't just release.
There are legal protections for people within a government office that allows them to talk freely inside an agency. Otherwise, it could have kind of a chilling effect on the frank and honest discussions.
O'BRIEN: That certainly is the administration's position as they try to explain why the president is calling for a presidential privilege on this.
Let me ask you a question. The goal of gun walking, both under President Obama and under President Bush is to track down those AK-47s and other weapons making it into the hands of the high level drug cartel members.
You said in a letter the program cost lives in support of an antigun agenda. I would assume that you would be against having guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members, right?
LAPIERRE: Absolutely. Let me make the difference. It is not being said between what President Bush was doing and what the Obama people are doing. What President Bush was doing with a small number of guns, they informed the Mexican government they were tracking the guns. What the Obama people were doing is they had a massive communication effort to sell the American public that 90 percent of the guns the cartels were getting were coming from the United States. That was not true.
Yet this program sure made it seem like it was true. After all said and done, they ran thousands of guns to the cartels. They have no prosecutions. They didn't keep track of the guns at all as to where they weren't.
They had a massive campaign with this whole phony 90 percent thing to manipulate public opinion and they were ruining the lives of honest gun dealers in the United States.
Letting the American media write stories saying gun dealers like Bill Carter in Georgia, I mean, in Texas, were dirty dealers and ruined their lives when they knew the truth.
O'BRIEN: So because of the attorney general does not support gun rights in the way that you support gun rights, do you believe that he should be held in contempt, sounds if that's what you're saying.
LAPIERRE: After all is said and done, what this administration did is with thousands of guns in the hands of the cartels and didn't keep track of anyone. We never even would know about it if Brian Terry hadn't been killed.
It would still be going on today and to try to get the truth out of the attorney general is like pulling teeth. You get a cloudy cover up and when he does say something, rather than tell Americans to fear the Mexican drug cartel who is are a real threat.
They still try to make Americans fear their second amendment freedoms, and I believe the American public is choking on it and we need to know the truth.
O'BRIEN: Wayne Lapierre is the executive vice president for the NRA. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for your time.
LAPIERRE: Thanks, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Appreciate it. Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a bullying victim now speaking out. Not a teenager. We're talking about a 68-year-old grandmother of six who was reduced to tears by kids on the bus she was monitoring. We'll show you that awful video coming up.
And a senator says he is convinced that the NFL crackdown on bounties, but is it realistic? We'll get a view from the locker room, from former Giant's great, Tiki Barber, is our guest. You're watching STARTING POINT.
O'BRIEN: Have you seen this entire videotape? My goodness, it is so awful and so upsetting. A 68-year-old grandmother being bullied and brought to tears by kids. Her name is Karen Kline. She is a bus monitor for the Greece Central School District, which is in upstate New York.
Relentlessly tormented by middle school kids. It goes on for 10 minutes. Here is a tiny portion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fat --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What size is your shirt?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless you have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: OK, so it is beyond the fat insults and the threats start getting violent. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- pull it out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull my knife out right there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I stab you in the stomach my knife would go through like butter. What is your address?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a crack at the mouth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come to your house and steal everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: It goes on like that and on like that and on. In the middle of the 10-minute clip, they start touching her like touching her ears and poke her with a year book.
It seems like a lot of it started when they wanted to take a look at the class year book and the worst comes at the end of the tape and what one kid tells Karen, this bus monitor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have a family because they all killed themselves because they didn't want to be near you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: So you can see her face gets sort of stunned and she starts looking down and that's where the tape cuts off. What they may or may not know is that her son took his life. He did kill himself 10 years ago.
Now she lives alone. Anyway, it is literally one of the most horrific things I have seen and the schools said it tracked down the kids on the tape and will be disciplining each bully and referred the incident to the cops. And Karen says that support is pouring in. This web site, you know, sending her funds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A guy just set it up. He saw this on the web and it is interesting to me that in this particular case you can almost make the argument it is the triumph of social media over evil.
One of the kids posted this on the Facebook page and another person said I don't support this and I am putting it on YouTube and it went viral and it led to all the support for this woman.
CAIN: What's interesting about that to me that she said the goodness came out once kids were removed from the situation. You see, this is less about bullying and much more about lemmings to me.
These are scared little lemmings following each other into ugliness. They are one upping each other on this bus. A very few things make me angry, but this gets me angry and shows a total lack of individualism or bravery among everyone of those little punk around there.
HOOVER: It should be a moment, but how incredible, exactly that, technology has become the sunlight that can be the disinfectant for bad behavior.
O'BRIEN: A $116,000 is what it's up to now. You can go on and contribute --
UNIDENTIFIELD FEMALE: From all over the world.
O'BRIEN: You can go on and contribute.
HOOVER: And she's going to have a $100,000 vacation.
O'BRIEN: She is doing a family cruise or something. It's such a sad thing, I think.
All right, still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, former NFL great, Tiki Barber is going to join us weighing in on the bounty scandal.
Is the league going far enough to prevent bounties on players? You're watching STARTING POINT. There he is joining us. Hi, Tiki. We're back in just a moment. We should have your play list, man.
O'BRIEN: Congress will no longer hold planned hearings into the NFL bounty scandal. Instead, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has promised to handle the problem internally. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Bounties are not a part of football. We do not believe they should be part of sports. And we have taken very strong action to make sure they are not a part of sports going forward.
And that the integrity of the game and the safety of our players is paramount. And that we are going to continue to take very aggressive steps to protect that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: After meeting with Goodell, Senator Dick Durban said he was satisfied with the NFL's plan and will cancel planned hearings. The new reforms follow an investigation that found that New Orleans Saints players were paid to injure their opponents.
Among the new steps taken to protect the players, the league is going to create an anonymous hotline to report bounties and it's going to add a section to player handbooks.
That brings us right to Tiki Barber, former running back for the New York Giants and also the author of "Tiki: My Life In The Game And Beyond." It's nice to have you.
TIKI BARBER, FORMER NY GIANTS PLAYER (1997-2006): Thank you.
O'BRIEN: I think some of the points that Goodell is saying are going to be the reforms, does it go far enough?
BARBER: Well, there are two things at play here. One, we all remember a couple of years ago, the NFL was slapped around for not doing enough about concussions, and they had a concussion hearing down in D.C.
And a lot of information and negative black marks came out about the NFL at that time. This is a similar situation. This exists. Bounties have existed for so long in the National Football League.
Usually it's for guys who don't make a lot of money. Go work your butt off on special teams, make a great hit, and we'll give you $1,000, whatever it may be.
The difference with the Saints is that they kind of formalized it. They put it on paper and people were extremely accountable. The NFL knew it was coming. They did not want the Senate or any congressional committee to look into the practices of the NFL so they got ahead of it.
I commend Roger Goodell for what he did to get ahead of these guys. I feel like the punishment was a little harsh on some of these guys, for the Saints and Jonathan Vilma in particular, Coach Payton as well. But I understand why he did it.
CAIN: The reforms, the ones I've read, the teams will have to put up posters in the locker room informing them about bounties and provide a hotline for players to call in.
O'BRIEN: Sounds weak. Honestly.
BARBER: It will be laughed at probably.
O'BRIEN: Will it make a difference?
BARBER: You know, it will make a difference downstream. And I talk about this often when I talk about the NFL. Everything that happens in the NFL gets pushed down to the college level. It gets pushed down to the high school level.
So by being tough about it, at the NFL level, it will go downstream. And that's really where it's more important. We're professionals. Well I'm not anymore.
But the professional football players are paid to do a job, do it very aggressively, and do it very well. So these things that we're talking about, they don't stick in your head.
You're more worried about is Ray Lewis going to rip my head off or is Peyton Manning going to throw for 350 yards against me today, or how am I going to beat this guy across the line from me.
This is not something that's important. The damage that happens downstream is what's really important.
O'BRIEN: Let me talk to you about college football during a playoff.
BARBER: That's interesting. There's a lot going on around the bowl system and how we can't determine a champion unless we do it with a playoff. And they need it because the debate is always out there, but I think people may like the debate.
O'BRIEN: I think you're right.
BARBER: I do.
O'BRIEN: I can tell. That smile.
BARBER: You can make the Bowl game for playoff games.
CAIN: The only person that doesn't support it is the president.
O'BRIEN: Tiki Barber, it's always nice to have you. Thanks for talking to us this morning.
BARBER: Glad to be here.
O'BRIEN: Appreciate it. We're following some breaking news this morning coming into STARTING POINT. George Zimmerman detailing moment-by-moment events in the Trayvon Martin shooting to police. We've got those police tapes. Going to bring those to you at the top of the hour. Plus, floodwaters tear through Minnesota. Some of the damage is, amazing. We have a live report from the flood zone straight ahead.
And we'll tell you why Denver College is trying to give illegal immigrants a tuition break and why the state is trying to stop that.
And way to change the subject, nice move by Alec Baldwin. Did you see this? Way too much shown is what I say. We'll explain on the other side of this break. You're watching STARTING POINT.