Return to Transcripts main page


Pistorius Defense Fights Back; Interview With Dan Pfeiffer

Aired February 20, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Guards chase our CNN crew investigating Chinese hackers.

A gynecologist accused of secretly videotaping his patients.

A professor's bizarre lecture, it included a strip show.

And Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg talks to CNN about teaming with Google for a multimillion-dollar science prize.

I'm Wolf Blitzer with Kate Bolduan. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's one of the most closely watched court cases in the world right now, and this is only the bail hearing for the South African athlete, Oscar Pistorius, charged with murdering his girlfriend. Much of today's hearing focused on the bathroom of Pistorius' home, where he shot Reeva Steenkamp through the door of the toilet room.

Prosecutors say he shot her deliberately. Pistorius says he thought he was shooting at an intruder.

CNN's Robyn Curnow was in the courtroom.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a bit of a roller- coaster day, so much so, I felt like I was watching a television drama. Initially when the prosecution laid out its case, they gave some quite damning evidence and also they added into the mix that they had found allegedly two boxes of testosterone and syringes in his house.

By the time the defense came in after lunch, they one -- bit by bit ripped apart the state's evidence and unraveled quite spectacularly at one stage because there was quite an interesting exchange between Oscar Pistorius' lawyers and an investigating officer and he said, well, how do you know this is testosterone? Have you tested it yet? And he said, well, no, I just read the label on the box.

And he said, well, if you had gone to any pharmacy or any chemist, you would know that this is a herbal medicine. That's the kind of interchange that was taking place. Also, the investigating officer really looking quite red-faced by the end of his stint on the dock. He admitted that he didn't wear protective foot covers or shoe covers when he walked into the house so he contaminated the crime scene. And we also know that the defense said that they had this key witness that had heard shouting, arguing in the hour before the shooting, but when pressed further, it emerged, much to the shock -- the court gasped -- it emerged that this witness actually lived 300 or more meters, that's more than 1,000 feet away from Oscar Pistorius' house.

So, really, various aspects of the state's case started unraveling and I think for anybody who supports Oscar they would have been pleased with that outcome. His family even issuing a statement saying that they found they were satisfied with the bail hearing, particularly, I must say and this is the clincher, Wolf, the investigating officer said that he actually couldn't find any inconsistencies with Oscar Pistorius' version of events.

BLITZER: Yes, that's obviously good news for Oscar over there. Did you see a difference in his demeanor today? Yesterday, he was sobbing, he was breaking down. What about today?

CURNOW: Yes, absolutely. We talked about it.

He was physically sort of bent over yesterday and physically he seemed to sit straighter today and for me that told a lot, that he seemed to be dealing with the information that was coming out of the court a little bit better, obviously because his defense team were really hammering holes into the state's case.

Just let me give you a sense of what his family is saying. His uncle has been talking to the press. Take a listen to this.


ARNOLD PISTORIUS, UNCLE: He's in extreme shock and so he's grieving and he's -- I don't expect him to get over it even soon and so he's still emotionally tough time.


CURNOW: OK. And, of course, all of the focus on the drama in the courtroom today, but many South Africans say as Oscar Pistorius spent his seventh night in jail, just remember Reeva Steenkamp's family, their seventh night of realizing, trying to come to deal with the fact that she's not around anymore, that she won't be here. So it's still a very emotional day, but very much a focus on the court proceedings.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: To better understand the legal ins and outs of what we're seeing play out in South African, joining me now is Dr. James Grant.

You specialize in criminal law there, Dr. Grant. So thanks so much for joining me.

I want to ask you just a couple questions. We're seeing a lot of detail playing out in the courtroom. We are just in the bail hearing phase. And I think a lot of our viewers here, especially in the United States, are surprised we're hearing so much detail. Why is that?


One of the issues that an accused person would want to address at the bail hearing is the strength of the state's case, and argue, in fact, that the state doesn't have much of a case to meet in any event. And that's why you're hearing so much detail at this point.

BOLDUAN: And criminal trials in South Africa, they do not have juries. This is going to come down to this, it will up to the judge. We are in the bail hearing phase, and from what you have seen and heard, do you expect Oscar Pistorius to get bail, or do you expect him to spend a lot more time behind bars?

GRANT: Correct. We don't have juries in South Africa. They were abolished, probably, I think in the '50s or '60s.

And they were abolished precisely to avoid racial discrimination, precisely because of the history of apartheid in South Africa. Do I believe that Oscar will get bail is the bottom-line question. My sense is, at this point, he possibly will. I'm hesitant to say he probably will, but, unfortunately, I haven't been privy to all of the evidence that's been presented at the trial.

Ultimately, though, what it comes down to is essentially two factors. Is he going to present himself for trial if he is released on bail? And secondly, if he is released, will he interfere with witnesses or otherwise with the state's case?

So far, I'm not convinced that there's good evidence that he would interfere with the state's case. It's a tough call on whether you could or -- one should expect him to flee the country.

BOLDUAN: One other thing that has really stuck out is that they say that Oscar Pistorius, the first person that he called after this all happened was someone who managed he has estate, someone who worked on the property. What does that tell you?

GRANT: I should just point out that we don't have 911 in South Africa, so it's not the -- it's not on everybody's speed dial, whereas it is possible that one might have on one's speed dial the manager of the estate where you live.

I say that as a possibility. However, it is, of course, questionable why, if on his own version, he had just discovered that he had shot his girlfriend, that he didn't phone what is South African -- the South African equivalent of 911, which is either the police who would have then immediately put him through to ambulance services, or alternatively dialed a directory service to put him through to medical assistance.

So fair questions being asked there.

BOLDUAN: All right. We will be watching all along the way. That's for sure. Dr. James Grant, thanks so much for your time.

GRANT: My pleasure.

BLITZER: We're only nine days away from $85 billion in forced budget cuts and the White House and the Republicans in Congress, they're trading blame instead of trading ideas to avoid the drastic spending reductions that will impact almost every American.

Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, went to the White House to press for some answers today.

Jim, what did you hear?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf and Kate, the White House basically said it's up to the Congress to act. So, in other words, the White House and the Congress moved one step closer, one day closer to those automatic budget cuts that start going into effect at the end of next weekend. And as we have been saying throughout many of these manufactured crises, here we go again.


ACOSTA (voice-over): The White House sounding the alarm. Poor children will be tossed out of classrooms, health services will be slashed, border security will be compromised, and the economy will take a hit if forced budgets cuts begin to happen on March 1, and the Obama administration says Republicans will be to blame.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The choice that the Republicans are making are throw these people out of work in order to protect these special tax breaks for corporate jet owners and oil and gas companies. It's just -- it makes no sense.

ACOSTA: But when pressed on whether the president has his own plan to stop the cuts, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pointed to the grand bargain Mr. Obama failed to reach with House Speaker John Boehner two years ago.

CARNEY: When you ask, where's the president's plan, it's been there. It's on It's in the proposal that he submitted to the speaker of the House, that the speaker walked away from.

QUESTION: The budget plan for the long term, where is...


QUESTION: ... prevent sequestration from happening next week?


QUESTION: Shouldn't the president take the lead and present that...


CARNEY: The president -- well, first of all, Congress has to act. ACOSTA: Less than two months since the fiscal cliff that resulted in tax increases on wealthy Americans, budget brinksmanship is back.

In an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" Boehner notes the idea for the automatic cuts originated in the White House, adding, "Mr. President, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?"

The White House fires back, pointing out Boehner seems satisfied when it was all set in motion two years ago as part of the debt ceiling deal of 2011.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: When you look at this deal that we came to the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy.

ACOSTA: The GOP responded by e-mailing out an interview featuring the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, saying the president shares some of the blame as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is part of this...


ACOSTA: And as Max Baucus was about to say during that interview, before that piece petered out there at the end there, Max Baucus told an affiliate in Montana that the president shares some blame for the sequester, so the Republican Party was e-mailing that out to reporters earlier today.

But when pressed on this issue, Wolf and Kate, the White House has basically said that the Congress should adopt what the Senate Democrats proposed last week, and that is basically a package that includes a lot of spending cut, but also some tax increases. That is something that the Republicans have said up on Capitol Hill is a nonstarter.

And I asked a top GOP aide earlier this afternoon whether or not there's been any new outreach from the White House, some kind of outreach to prevent this sequester from taking effect, and that top aide told me, Wolf, there's been no old outreach, no new outreach -- quote -- "no anything."

So we're still heading towards the end of next week when these sequester cuts take effect, Wolf.

BLITZER: Nine days to go. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

BOLDUAN: So it looks like former Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will have to do prison time. Today both Jackson and his wife pleaded guilty to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds, spending the money on things like appliances, fur coats, even a pair of Michael Jackson's hats.

He will be looking at three to five years in prison when he's sentenced in June.

BLITZER: And take a look at this. It's the moment a natural gas explosion ripped apart J.J.'s Restaurant in Kansas City. Officials just announced the construction subcontractor breached a gas line with an underground boring machine, leading to the explosion. The restaurant had been closed because of the odor of gas. At least one person is dead and six others are still hospitalized. Three are now described as being in critical condition.

BOLDUAN: And it's a rodeo week in Tucson, Arizona, but in addition to the horses and cattle and cactus, there are snowmen in Tucson today. A winter storm moving through the Desert Southwest is expected to create big problems as it moves east. Forecasters are predicting heavy snow in the Central Plains, freezing rain in Kansas and Missouri, and dangerous thunderstorms in the South. We will be watching all of that head our way.

BLITZER: We certainly will.

And in a rare interview today, the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, talked with CNN's Ali Velshi about a big award the nation's tech giants are giving out for medical research. Facebook, Google, Apple, and other firms set up what's being called the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.


ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: How does this fit into a Facebook world in five years or 10 years when this thing is a really big deal?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: Oh, it doesn't. There are things that -- I focus on Facebook because I think it's a really good thing for the world. I really believe in our mission of helping people connect and making the world more open and connected, but there are lots of things that I think would be awesome to see exist in the world that Facebook isn't the right vehicle to work on those things through.

And it's awesome to be able to work with a lot of folks who are really smart and have been successful in other areas and draw on their experience to do things like this as well.

VELSHI: But while we're here live on CNN, any announcements you want to make about Facebook?



VELSHI: Well, I guess that's it.


BLITZER: The Breakthrough Awards are sort of like the Nobel Prize, but it pays twice as much. The first recipients are 11 health researchers who will be getting, get this, $3 million each.

BOLDUAN: It shows if you work hard, sometimes you get $3 million.

BLITZER: Yes. You have got a good idea to come up with that award?

BOLDUAN: To win that prize?


BOLDUAN: I don't think so.

BLITZER: Chinese hackers allegedly targeting U.S. companies from a complex in Shanghai and look what happened when we, CNN, went to investigate. We have details of what we found.


BLITZER: You may have heard about the massive hacking operation targeting companies like Coca-Cola and American oil pipelines and power grids. But the hack was traced back to a building in a military complex in China.

We sent CNN's David McKenzie to the Shanghai building to check it out and he was chased. Watch this.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Driving in the northern part of Shanghai. This is a hub of the low-tech industry, but it's also allegedly high-tech hub of corporate, and potentially government espionage.

The allegations come from a group called Mandiant from the U.S. They say that there are tens if not hundreds of Chinese hackers working in conjunction with the Chinese government to hack into mostly U.S. companies and steal data and corporate secrets.

Mandiant says after years of investigations, they pinpointed the hacking to this group of buildings. They said that the hackers would go in to an institution, through back-door means, and spend potentially years there, stealing secrets. Some of these industries were national security industries, like aerospace, high-tech, and I.T.

It's clear that this installation of buildings is closely watched by the People's Liberation Army, and the allegation is that they're working in conjunction with civilian hackers. As we got closer to take a look, we got in trouble.

Keep driving. Drive away, drive away. Drive away.

We have had to move out of sight of that facility. Now, the question then, was that a response because it's a military installation, or is there something more here? Is this a secret center of Chinese bloggers working for the Chinese government and attacking U.S. institutions? That's certainly what Mandiant is saying, but the Chinese government says that's not the case.

They say this is a baseless accusation, and -- quote -- "irresponsible." Chinese say that 14 million computers are hacked every year here in China, and they blame the U.S. The question is, is this just the just next salvo in a cyber-war?

David McKenzie, CNN, Shanghai.


BLITZER: Let's get some more with the head of the company that uncovered all of this. Kevin Mandia is the CEO of Mandiant. He's joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Kevin, thanks once again for coming in.


BLITZER: All right, you discovered this building in Shanghai, you put it in your report. Are you surprised by what we just saw from our David McKenzie?

MANDIA: I have got to admit, I'm surprised they almost caught the car, so that was pretty impressive.

But, yes, I think that sort of bolsters and confirms the report. We spent seven years investigating this group. And two things led us to that exact location. One, all the technical threads, all the geeky evidence led us right to Shanghai to this one place, and then open source collections about this unit 61398 and the buildings that it used led us to the exact same location. There's pretty much no doubt in our minds this is a government-run facility for hacking.

BLITZER: Now, they're clearly upset by your report. They don't like the fact that that building has been pinpointed. As soon as I heard about all of this, I said to myself, these guys are pretty sophisticated. How worried you that they're going to going to try to target your company, Mandiant, try to hack into your computers?

MANDIA: I think that's almost inevitable.

Right now, we know they have tried to break into Mandiant before. In the report that we published that is 60 pages long, there's an example where they impersonated me, impersonated my e-mail address and sent it to two Mandiant employees, trying to break in. And that's commonly how they do it.

I'm very convinced there will be some repercussions in cyberspace from Mandiant.

BLITZER: But you have a lot of precautions, I assume.

BOLDUAN: Yes. What do you do?

MANDIA: We have as many precautions as we can have. I just think that they exploit human vulnerability and human weakness and we have got over 300 employees. It only takes one of them to be kind of foiled or fooled into doing something and we could have compromise.

BLITZER: Just hit a link and it goes in and it could smash your whole thing.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Just today, the Obama administration, they rolled out their trade secret theft strategy, that's what they're calling it.

I want to read you some of the priorities that they laid out in this. It says they want to convey to countries with high levels of incidence. This is really relating to exactly what you have uncovered. They also say, press governments on protection and enforcement, give private sector warnings and threat assessments, increase public awareness of threats and risks.

This comes just a day after your report is put out, I mean, seven years after all the work you have done. So what you see here from the Obama administration, is that good news? Does that change anything, in your view?

MANDIA: There's a couple things that came out of this. When you respond to this many intrusions, you see all the theft of intellectual property that we have witnessed, you recognize there's technical solutions that we have got to pursue, but there's never going to be the Holy Grail, where we have got the whole field covered. So you need diplomatic things done as well.

And that's one of the reasons why Mandiant released its report, is we felt the tolerance in the private sector, that it's just shrinking. People are sick and frustrated with how much I.P. we have lost to Chinese hackers. So we felt it was just a natural timing. Let's get this report out, let's up the ante, and I think there's a real challenge on the diplomacy side of things.

But one thing that struck me is that they said they would increase our diplomatic engagement. I think that's automatically good. Without diplomacy, technology alone is not going to solve this problem.

BOLDUAN: So good news, in your view, what you heard from the administration today? A first step?

MANDIA: Certainly top of mind now, which is good.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I guess it's good news.

Kevin Mandia, thanks so much for coming in yet again. Good work.

BLITZER: Good luck not getting hacked.


MANDIA: Thanks a lot.


BOLDUAN: Good luck not getting hacked, that's true.

Still ahead, to hear President Obama tell it, the sky will fall come March 1 when $85 billion in forced spending cuts kick in. Is the White House hyping the impact? We will find out.


BLITZER: Unless there's a last-minute deal between the White House and Congress, forced spending cuts will hit federal workers in only nine days.

I'm joined now by President Obama's senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, joining us from the White House.

Dan, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: You saw the article the House speaker wrote in "The Wall Street Journal," the op-ed page, today, blaming this budget crisis on what he called the president's failed leadership.

But he posed this question. I will put it up on the screen. He said: "Mr. President, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?"

So what -- you need $85 billion in spending cuts to avoid what's called these forced budget cuts or sequestration. Do you have $85 billion in mind?

PFEIFFER: We do. We have $85 billion in mind. We also have $1 trillion in mind to go along with tax revenue that would raise money for deficit reduction by closing loopholes for the wealthy.

So we can solve this problem over the short-term. The House and Senate Democrats have a proposal that has money from defense cuts, money from cuts in farm payments, combined with asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more by closing loopholes. So we can do all of this. The question isn't whether we have a plan. We have a plan. The question is whether Republicans are willing to compromise, so we can actually solve the problem.

BLITZER: All right, of the $85 billion, the plan that you have in mind to afford the forced budget cuts, give me examples of where you would cut.

PFEIFFER: Well, we have -- the $85 billion, we have specific cuts and savings on the farm program. There are cuts in defense spending that we would do.

Overall, the overall deficit reduction, we have very specific cuts, reforms to Medicare, including asking higher-income seniors to pay a little bit more.

BLITZER: Is that part of the $85 billion?


PFEIFFER: No, that's part of our -- the president's overall deficit reduction plan that would...


BLITZER: No, because what I'm trying to do is find out, on the $85 billion, to avoid what's called sequestration, the specifics. So how much would the farm, the money you want to eliminate for farm subsidies, how much would that bring in?

PFEIFFER: That's about $30 billion, I believe, Wolf. The House and Senate Democrats have a specific plan.

BLITZER: Thirty billion this year, or over 10 years?

PFEIFFER: Over 10 years.

BLITZER: Well, I'm talking about this year. How much this year?

PFEIFFER: Well, the plan is $3 billion this year, but the whole idea of the sequester is to deal with the spending over the next decade.

And so the formula that the House and Senate Democrats are using is the same one that 85, nearly 90 Republican senators -- or senators voted for, including 40-some Republicans, just two months ago to delay the sequestration. So we're following their proposal.

BLITZER: All right. So let's go through some of these specifics, because I think it's interesting, $3 billion in farm subsidies this year. You have still got, what, $82 billion left to go. Where does that -- how much in defense spending this year?

PFEIFFER: Well, Wolf, Wolf, Wolf, as you -- what you have to look at is the House and Senate Democrats' plan.

And it includes -- it's about $110 billion, half from tax revenue, half from spending cuts. It's our belief, the president's belief and the belief of congressional Democrats that we should deal with the sequester and overall deficit reduction in a balanced way. The Republican plan is that all of the rest of the deficit reduction should come from -- should be paid for by seniors and the middle class and the wealthy should pay nothing more.

BLITZER: You saw what John Boehner, the speaker, wrote in "The Wall Street Journal."

"The president has repeatedly called for even more tax revenue, but the American people don't support trading spending cuts for higher taxes. They understand that the tax debate is now closed."

So he says, forget about additional tax increases between now and next Friday. That's closed for now.

PFEIFFER: Well, I would say two things.

One, if the speaker believes that the American people don't think that the wealthy should pay more by closing loopholes, he must be reading the same polls that had Mitt Romney winning Ohio. Second, I saw what the speaker wrote today. I also heard what the speaker wrote two months ago, when he came in to the president and said, "We could raise $1 trillion to reduce our deficit, by closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy." So, we agreed with him then. We think that's the right proposal to do.


BLITZER: Dan Pfeiffer, speaking with me from the White House. He's now the senior adviser. He was the communications director, speaking with me from the White House.

Just some perspective on the $85 billion they want to cut, these forced cuts, you know what we're -- the U.S. is spending in Afghanistan this year? You know, because I told you earlier.

BOLDUAN: It's just about that.

BLITZER: Eight-eight billion dollars.


BLITZER: So if the U.S. were to withdraw this year, all of its troops, as opposed to next year, $88 billion the U.S. could...

BOLDUAN: Some good, tough questions for him. It just does appear that these two sides are not any closer to reaching a deal right now.

BLITZER: No. Especially when it comes to taxes.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

BLITZER: That's the key issue.

BOLDUAN: The fight continues.

Still ahead, making waves in the Senate, speaking of Congress, with no apologies. The Tea Party sees a hero in freshman Senator Ted Cruz, but even some fellow Republicans say, he's going a bit too far. He talks to CNN, next.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If we lose our liberty here, where do we go?

It ain't rocket science. What do we need to do? Stop spending money!

And to explicitly agree with the characterization of the United States as the world's bully, I would suggest is not the conduct one would expect of a secretary of defense.


BLITZER: To many of his colleagues, he's the brash new kid on the block, trampling the Senate's unwritten rules of civility and respect. But to his Tea Party supporters, Ted Cruz is a true believer, and shaking things up is part of why they sent him to Washington.

Our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She caught up with this brand-new Republican senator back in Texas, just back from Texas. How did it go?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very interesting. You know that 2012 was a really bad election year for Republicans. And Ted Cruz is one of only three new Republican Senate faces, and he's already making sure he's a powerful voice of the GOP.


BASH (voice-over): It had the look and feel of a campaign event. Except freshman GOP Senator Ted Cruz isn't up for re-election for six years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great job with Hagel.

CRUZ: Thank you.

BASH: These Texans are applauding their senator's head-turning performance after only one month in office.


BASH: Joining only two others to vote against John Kerry for secretary of state, aggressively defending gun rights, and trying to take down defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel.

CRUZ: Have you been paid directly by a foreign government?

BASH (on camera): I've covered the Senate for a long time. It is unusual for a freshman to be this outspoken on a high-profile issue.

CRUZ: At the end of the day, I was elected to represent 26 million Texans and to speak the truth. You know, I think a lot of Americans are tired of politicians in Washington in both parties who play games.

BASH (voice-over): The 42-year-old Cuban-American, the first Hispanic senator from Texas, studied free-market principles and memorized the constitution as a teenager, thanks to his father, a Cuban refugee. After Princeton and Harvard Law, Cruz became solicitor general of Texas, arguing for states' right and religious freedom before the U.S. Supreme Court.

CRUZ: It was a long shot.

BASH: Tea Party activists bucked the establishment to help elect Cruz and now see their hard work paying off.

BRENDAN STEINHAUSER, TEA PARTY ACTIVIST: He's the total package. He's brilliant, he's a great messenger for ideas, he's a true believer, and he's a guy you never have to wonder about how he's going to vote.

BASH (on camera): Conservatives here in Texas who fueled Cruz's come-from-behind Tea Party Senate win may be ecstatic that he's been so aggressive so fast, but for some senior Republican senators, not so much.

One of the guiding principles of the Senate, for a freshman senator, is come in and be a workhorse, not a show horse. You don't seem to be following that.

CRUZ: The attention that has focused on me, in my opinion, is actually primarily being driven by an effort to distract from the merits of the Hagel nomination.

BASH (voice-over): Cruz angered senators in both parties, demanding to know, without evidence, if Hagel accepted money for speeches from foreign countries that oppose U.S. interests.

CRUZ: If that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea...

BASH: That got him a smack-down from Republican John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No one on this committee at any time should impugn his character or his integrity.

BASH: From Democrats, suggestions of McCarthyism.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: It was reminiscent of some bad times.

CRUZ: I do find it ironic that, in the course of attacking me and using a label like McCarthyite, they also chide me for not respecting comedy.

BASH: It's clear Cruz did not run for Senate to make friends.

CRUZ: I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do.


BASH: And one of Cruz's Senate Republican colleagues I spoke to said that, even in a place of healthy egos, Cruz stands out for his ego.

And a Tea Party activist, who was a supporter, also says that perhaps he could have a little dose, a small dose of humor, and it could go a long way. But Wolf, it was really clear in speaking to him and watching him, he is relishing in the criticism, especially from what he and others call the establishment.

BLITZER: Yes, he's got a huge following. Not only in Texas but outside of Texas as well.

BASH: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Thanks for going out and thanks for doing the report. Good -- good work from Dana out in Texas.

BOLDUAN: Always good work from Dana. And you'll remember that Senator Cruz joined us here -- here in THE SITUATION ROOM on his first day in the Senate, and hopefully, we'll have him back again soon.

BLITZER: He's invited.

BOLDUAN: He's always invited.

Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a college lecture unlike any other. You can see the bizarre video. What you don't see is the professor stripping. Details of one class students will clearly never forget.


BOLDUAN: Some Columbia University students expecting a routine lecture got something very different instead: a strip show. And now their professor is the one facing some pretty big questions.

CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll had the fortunate opportunity to cover this story today and the bizarre video connected to it. So Jason, what is going on?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think a lot of parents are asking that very same question now. The professor in question was basically trying to get the students' attention. He did that, Kate. But he also got the attention of Columbia administrators, as some in the university and outside of it, for that matter, are questioning if the professor went just a little bit too far.


CARROLL (voice-over): To say it was not the standard lesson in quantum mechanics would be an understatement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He didn't really need to go that far.


CARROLL: The behavior and interactions of energy and matter did not matter, it seems, as much as the behavior of Professor Emlyn Hughes and how he interacted with his Columbia University students during his lecture Monday.


CARROLL: Hughes stripped to his underwear while eating a banana and did not stop there. He then changed into a ninja costume.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is happening?

CARROLL: A student capturing it on video. As stuffed animals are impaled, images of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden flashed on a giant video screen.

Freshman Sarah Thompson and Katherine Nevitt were there.

KATHERINE NEVITT, STUDENT: Kind of bizarre, but, like, he has the right to do it, I think.

CARROLL (on camera): Well, clearly, he may have -- may have the right to do it, but do you think what he did was the right thing to do?

NEVITT: I think that everybody's going to have a different opinion on that, and I think -- I mean, it's a form of expression.

SARAH THOMPSON, STUDENT: I think this might have been a first in his teaching career, but, if he wants to apologize, I guess he could. I don't think he should be fired or reprimanded, though.

CARROLL (voice-over): Professor Hughes did not respond to requests for an interview. As for explanation, he told students at his lecture the following.

EMLYN HUGHES, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: In order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain, and start over again. Quantum mechanics, nothing you have learned in your life up to now will in any way help prepare you for this.

CARROLL: Unorthodox teaching methods not new. A professor at Appalachian State University suspended for showing a movie about pornography. Another at Northwestern landed in hot water after a naked woman appeared as part of a class demonstration. And a South Carolina English teacher could be terminated for stomping on an American flag during a lesson.

Experts in education say sometimes unconventional methods are needed to motivate learning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though you're a master of the material, being able to present that in an engaging and a dynamic way is part of the challenge of being an effective and good college instructor.

CARROLL: Hughes' fate at Columbia, unknown. The university released a statement which reads, in part, "Columbia's Faculty Handbook states that, in conducting their classes, faculty should promote an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, respect, and civility and should confine their classes to the subject matter covered by their courses."


HUGHES: Well, the university also goes on to say that, while one must exercise caution in judging excerpts from a lecture or short presentations from an entire course outside of their full context, the appropriate academic administrators are currently reviewing the facts of this particular presentation in quantum mechanics. So we're just going to have to wait and see, Kate, what happens to old Professor Hughes.

But I have to tell you, from talking to all the students there, they say he is well-respected, well -- well-liked, and this was completely out of character.

BOLDUAN: Well, clearly they like him, and clearly they will not forget that class anytime soon, Jason.

CARROLL: That's for sure.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

You know, I guess sometimes you got to get their attention. It is quantum mechanics.

BLITZER: Did you study quantum mechanics?

BOLDUAN: How did you know? That was clearly my major. You know, I do applaud him for thinking outside the box.



BLITZER: Just ahead, we have a special SITUATION ROOM report.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brian Todd in Baltimore. There are shocking new allegations against an ob/gyn doctor who worked at this hospital in Baltimore. Did he record his patients in the examining room without their knowledge? I'll have that story coming up.


BLITZER: Shocking allegations that a doctor may have secretly videotaped his patients with hidden cameras.

BOLDUAN: Our Brian Todd has been digging into this, and he's live for us now in Baltimore this evening.

Brian, what are you learning? What a troubling story.

TODD: Kate, Wolf, Baltimore police tell us about 300 of Dr. Nikita Levy's patients have contacted them to give information on this case. The police tell us they are now coming through an enormous amount of evidence. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): For about 25 years, he worked as an ob/gyn at this medical center, affiliated with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Now Johns Hopkins and Baltimore police say Dr. Nikita Levy illegally photographed his patients and possibly others without their knowledge.

ANTHONY GUGLIELMI, BALTIMORE POLICE SPOKESMAN: One of the cameras that we can confirm is a pen camera, and there are other types that we don't want to get into, again, given the sensitive -- sensitivity of the investigation.

TODD (on camera): How many cameras were in the office?

GUGLIELMI: Multiple. There were multiple cameras. I really can't get into a number.

TODD (voice-over): Nor can police say what else the cameras were hidden in. They say they're examining, quote, "a mountain of evidence." Still and video cameras, multiple computers, servers, external hard drives. They're investigating whether Levy might have had an accomplice and...

GUGLIELMI: What did he do with this information? Did he sell it? Was it put on the Internet?

TODD: Some of Dr. Levy's patients spoke to CNN affiliate WJZ.

JESSICA WIMS (PH), PATIENT: Dr. Levy was the sweetest person. This is all -- this is just shocking.

TASHA BYNUM, PATIENT: That's a violation. You understand what I'm saying? That's somebody you're supposed to trust with your body, your information, which is supposed to be confidential.

TODD: And now Dr. Nikita levy can't answer the allegations.

(on camera): After learning of his alleged transgressions on February 4, Johns Hopkins Hospital says they suspended Dr. Levy the next day. They say they terminated him on February 8 and offered him counseling.

Ten days later, just this past Monday, police here in Townsend, Maryland, responded to a call here at Dr. Levy's home. They say he was dead when they arrived. They're investigating it as a suicide.

(voice-over): Johns Hopkins says it promptly reported Levy's alleged activity to the police. In a statement, Johns Hopkins says, in part, "An invasion of patient privacy is intolerable. Words cannot express how deeply sorry we are for every patient whose privacy may have violated." The hospital says his alleged behavior violates its conduct and privacy rules.

Attorney Andrew Slutkin says he's been contacted by at least 25 patients of Dr. Levy's. I asked him how the alleged behavior was discovered.

ANDREW SLUTKIN, ATTORNEY: The story is that a Johns Hopkins employee noticed something unusual about Dr. Levy's examinations on February 4 and alerted a supervisor.

TODD (on camera): Do you know what that was?

SLUTKIN: No, we don't. No one knows at this point what it was other than Hopkins, and they're not speaking about the issue.


TODD: Johns Hopkins says it is conducting its own investigation. We could not reach Dr. Levy's attorney for comment. Earlier, I went to Dr. Levy's home and knocked on the door to see if anyone there would speak on his behalf. A gentleman who answered the door declined to do so and said, quote, "This is all news to us" -- Wolf, Kate.

BLITZER: What a story, Brian Todd. Thanks very much, Brian Todd in Baltimore.

CNN's Erin Burnett is going "OUTFRONT" tonight on a gruesome discovery. The body of a missing woman found inside a Los Angeles hotel water tank. Erin is joining me now live with a preview. What a crazy story, Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: It's a crazy story. And Kate, let me tell you what's even crazier is how they found out about it.

People who were staying at this hotel started complaining of low water pressure and funny tasting water. Frightening. And when they went up to investigate the reason why, they found a body. We're going to tell you about this story and exactly how this could have happened. And also, what the link is between that body and the water that people were drinking in the hotel room and who the person was.

We also have exclusive and new photos of Reeva Steenkamp, of course, the girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius, who was killed. These are some pretty amazing pictures of a man who had worked with her several times on photo shoots and they're pretty -- they're pretty beautiful.

And in tonight's essay, we talk about the post office's new fashion foray with a, yes, pretty strong opinion on that one. See you guys at the top of the hour.

BOLDUAN: As always, we'll see you at the top of the hour. Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead, a weather man goes live from a stunt plane to experience the force of eight G's, but it doesn't quite go as planned. Find out what happened, next.


BLITZER: A weatherman's wild ride. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're about to see a weatherman's face become a little more weathered. Grant Denyer was doing the weather live from a stunt plane on Australia's "Sunrise Show."

(on camera): The hosts and the weatherman were all smiles, congratulating themselves that Grant hadn't gotten sick yet. In their words, that he hadn't spewed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not one spew this morning. Sorry.

MOOS (voice-over): Grant describes himself as the crash test dummy of live television, the type who jumps through hoops...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a man with a hoop.

MOOS: ... to make the weather crazy and fun. This time, he wanted to experience the force of eight G's.

GRANT DENYER, WEATHERMAN: I've been fascinated my whole life to do this, and I don't want to do it anymore.

MOOS: But Grant urged the stunt pilot on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Picking up space and we go right and we go left. Keep squeezing. Keep squeezing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

He's passed out. Oh, God, we don't want to see, all right.

MOOS: Grant's camera went to black as he blacked out, not that he realized he had, as he later told us.

DENYER: I could have sworn I didn't pass out. And pass out like a 12-year-old girl.

MOOS: After a little more than ten seconds of silence, Grant started talking.

DENYER: That's unbelievable!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He blacked out for a second!

MOOS (on camera): Grant is far from the first to have his eyes roll back in his head on live TV.

(voice-over): It happened to one of Glenn Beck's guests.

GLENN BECK, PUNDIT: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You OK? Somebody help him, please.

MOOS: It happens all the times at political rallies. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That everybody agrees are there.

MOOS: Timber!

In Marie Osmond's case, instead of dancing, it was fainting with the stars.

The bad thing about passing out on camera...

DENYER: Man, I don't look pretty when I'm asleep. I started to look like a member of "The Addams Family" there for a bit.

(MUSIC: "They're creepy and they're kooky")

MOOS: And as the stunt pilot chants, keep squeezing in an effort to keep blood headed for the brain, your anchor back on earth has already squeezed you out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Better you than me.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That's it for us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.