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U.S. Afghan Commander Investigated; No Decisions Made on Personnel Matters; White House Briefing; Obama's Full Plate; New Details in Petraeus Scandal; New York Still Suffering from Hurricane Sandy; What People Say of Petraeus' Affair; Funny Moments in Presidential Race

Aired November 13, 2012 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Suzanne Malveaux. You can see there on your screen, we are waiting the White House briefing at the podium there as reporters, journalists gathering there. Jim Carney -- Jay Carney, rather, will take questions clearly on any potential cabinet shakeups and the scandal that has -- that's shaken up Washington as well. We are talking about another high-ranking military officer getting caught up in a scandal that brought down former CIA Director General David Petraeus. We're talking about General John Allen. He is under military investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate e-mails to Jill Kelley.

Now, she's the woman whose complaints led to the resignation of Petraeus. General Allen, he is the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. He was nominated to become NATO's supreme commander. He has denied any wrongdoing. So, how are these people linked in this scandal? We'll walk you through this here, it could be complicated. General Petraeus resigned after admitting to having an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

The affair was uncovered because a friend of Petraeus, Jill Kelley, asked the FBI to investigate harassing e-mails she was receiving from Broadwell. Well, now it's come to light that there are allegedly inappropriate e-mails between Jill Kelley and General Allen. In addition, the "Wall Street Journal" says that the FBI agent who initiated the investigation at Kelley's request is now under scrutiny. The agent has not been identified but he allegedly sent Kelley shirtless photos of himself.

So, first, former CIA Director General Petraeus resigns. Now, General John Allen's nomination to become NATO commander is on hold. What does it mean for Allen's career? And how is this going to affect the efforts to actually wind down the war in Afghanistan where you've got more than 60,000 troops still there deployed? Jay Carney is at the podium. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- around the world. In each call, he thanked his counterpart for their friendship and partnership thus far and expressed his desire to continue close cooperation moving ahead. The president spoke with President Karzai of Afghanistan, Prime Minister Monti of Italy, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, President Putin of Russia, and President Zapatero of Spain. With that, I will take your questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jay, thanks. A couple of questions about the scandal that many of us are now covering. One in specific and a bigger picture one. On General Allen, we're learning more about questions about him and the Pentagon's investigation of his alleged behavior. Does the president have faith that General Allen can continue to lead the war in Afghanistan in this really critical period of time when he's under investigation by the Pentagon?

CARNEY: I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of General Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan. At the request of the secretary of defense, the president has put on hold General Allen's nomination as supreme allied commander of Europe pending the investigation of General Allen's conduct by the Department of Defense I.G. Now, the president remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan who General Allen continues to lead as he has done so ably for over a year. Meanwhile, the president nominated General Dunford to be the next commander of ISAF and reiterates his belief that the Senate should act swiftly to confirm General Dunford. His hearings, I believe, are this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, is it accurate to say the president still has full faith in General Allen?

CARNEY: He has faith in General Allen, believes he is doing and has done an excellent job at ISAF, and I would refer you to the Pentagon for the process under way with regards to General Allen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally, just to kind of take a step back. It's been only a week since the (INAUDIBLE) e-mail we've seen. The CIA director resigned under pressure and disgrace over the scandal. We've now seen the leader in Afghanistan implicated in this. What's the president's reaction to this? Is he -- is he disgusted? Is he embarrassed? What should we know here?

CARNEY: Well, the president was certainly surprised when he was informed about the situation regarding General Petraeus on Thursday. He greatly appreciates General Petraeus' remarkable service to his country, both in uniform and at the CIA. And as he said in his statement, his heart -- his thoughts and prayers go out to both General Petraeus and Holly Petraeus at this time. He's focused on his policy agenda, and he has confidence in the acting director at the CIA and he has confidence in the military to carry out the various missions that he has asked them to carry out. On specific individuals and matters pertaining to the recent revelations, I would refer you to the Pentagon and the I.G., on the one hand, and to the FBI with regards to General Petraeus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he's not -- I mean, if you picture watching us, he's not shaking his head saying, guys, we need a more credible, confident sense of leadership?

CARNEY: He's not going to make grand pronouncements or decisions about things based on, you know, two situations, two individual cases. He's focused on the missions that the military is tasked with carrying out and the CIA and the General intelligence community is tasked with carrying out, and with enacting his overall agenda which encompasses not the -- not just national security policy but, obviously, domestic policy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks.

CARNEY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE.)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jay, has the president spoken to General Allen directly?

CARNEY: Not that I'm aware of, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has he spoken to secretary Panetta?

CARNEY: I'd have to check that. I'd -- you know, Secretary Panetta has been traveling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a sort of follow up defense question, does the president see this, in General, as an unwelcomed distraction at a time when he's just -- was re-elected and has a bunch of priorities in terms of fiscal cliff and in terms of the cabinet?

CARNEY: Well, I certainly, I think, wouldn't call it welcome. Obviously, the -- as I said to Ben that the information about General Petraeus came to him as a surprise and he is very appreciative of General Petraeus' remarkable services to his country. But the president is focused on the agenda that he believes is important for this country, that he has to carry out working with lawmakers here in Washington. And that includes, as you know, his number one priority, which is jobs and economic growth. And he is engaging in meetings this week on those issues, on the issues of the approach we need to take to ensure that we have the right economic policy, the right fiscal policy to help the economy grow and help it continue to create jobs.

He is also, of course, continuously focused on his foreign policy and national security agenda. He has great confidence in the acting CIA director. He has confidence in his military and the second of defense and the defense department to carry out the missions that he's assigned to them. But he's got, obviously, a lot that he wants to get to work on and he's doing that this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Broadly, how does this affect, though, his need to revamp the national security team?

CARNEY: Again, I think these are specific questions about specific individuals and posts. I can say now, even though you haven't asked, that I have no announcement to make with regards to personnel and no speculation to engage in. I can tell you that the president has not made a -- decisions on personnel matters and you will not hear me discuss them until the president has made those decisions and has announced them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

CARNEY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jay, your saying these are regarding two specific people that you can't extrapolate but two of the president's top military brass either involved in an extramarital affair or seemingly involved in what might be inappropriate behavior. Is the president, as commander in chief, at all worried about a culture -- an inappropriate culture in the military?

CARNEY: I really would ask you to not extrapolate broadly. The president has great confidence in the military, great confidence in his commanders and will continue to have that confidence. With regards to the specific instances here, I think you need to address your questions to the Justice Department and the FBI or the Defense Department. The president's focused on doing the work that the American people re-elected him to do and he's continuing to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the White House have reason to believe that national security was ever breached or threatened at any point in either of these instances?

CARNEY: You know, I think that questions like that, which go to matters under investigation, I refer you to the investigative bodies. You know, the president is focused on the work that he needs to do and, again, I think there's been substantial reporting on some of this and, you know, the president spoke with and met with General Petraeus and agreed with his decision that he could no longer lead the CIA and accepted his resignation. He has great faith in the acting director and you know the president's focused on the agenda that he's -- wants to carry out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. On another topic, I know you're not going to address personnel matters. Does the president have confidence that -- I know he's a big fan of Ambassador Susan Rice. Does he have confidence that she could pass the Senate confirmation for any post in a future cabinet?

CARNEY: Again, I will not engage in speculation about personnel matters. I can tell you that the president believes that Ambassador Rice has done an excellent job and is grateful for her service.

Yes, John?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jay, this investigation has been going on for months. How is it that the White House didn't have any idea of this until the day after the election and did Congress a few days later?

CARNEY: Well, I would refer you to the FBI. They have, as my -- as I understand it, protocols in place for when they notify the legislative and executive branches of the investigations. And, you know, it is simply a fact that the White House was not aware of the situation regarding General Petraeus until Wednesday and the situation regarding General Allen until Friday. So, you know, the FBI's is a place to go in terms of explanation of the protocols they follow. But I understand that that is the answer that they will give, that there are protocols they follow that govern how they inform the various branches of government of these kinds of investigations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do you understand how people would think this is utterly bizarre? I mean, the day after the election and the anger you're hearing on Capitol Hill that they didn't know this was going on? It's just -- I mean, the timing, at least the appearance?

CARNEY: Look, all I can tell you is, when the White House was informed and I would let the relevant members of Congress explain to you how and when they were informed. My understanding is there are protocols that the FBI follows in -- with regards to these kinds of notifications, and I would refer you to the FBI and the Department of Justice for an explanation of those protocols. You know what, again, the president is focused on is the work that we have to do right now to help our economy grow and help our economy create jobs. And, you know, there are obviously a whole host of other issues that are out there and that he and others have to contend with and he and others are doing that. But his focus, right now, is on working with Congress to move the country forward economically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Collins says that it's imperative that General Petraeus testify in the hearings on Benghazi. We've heard similar statements from Senator Feinstein.

CARNEY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that it is appropriate for the former CIA director to be testifying about what happened given that he was director at the time and given that he has conducted his own review?

CARNEY: Well, I would say two things. One, that it is up to Congress to make decisions about who is called to testify. But the president is confident that acting director moral is fully informed and capable of representing the CIA in a hearing about the incidents in Benghazi.

OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jay, I want to go back to something that Justin (ph) just asked about Ambassador Rice.

CARNEY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If she were to go before a Senate confirmation hearing, just hypothetically, and I do need an answer.

CARNEY: For you, I'll break the hypothetical rule, April (ph). Nobody else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. If she were to go before a national confirmation hearing, could she answer questions with a simple yes? Are questions answerable?

CARNEY: I'm not sure what you're asking, April. Again, I'm not going to speculate about personnel matters and who will or will not be participating in nomination hearings. You know, I can tell you that the president believes that Ambassador Rice has done an excellent job as the United States ambassador to the United Nations. And I believe that -- and I know that he believes that everyone here working for him has been transparent and in the way that we've tried answer questions about what happened in Benghazi and going back to briefings that we had again and again that the information that we provided was based on the available assessments at the time. And as those assessments evolved and became more detailed and clear, we provided additional information. And that was certainly true of the questions that I answered and the information that I provided and it was true, obviously, of Ambassador Rice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in the coming weeks, I understand there are a lot of moving pieces on this chessboard. We also understand that Governor Deval Patrick is maybe one piece that you might be bringing in. He did have -- he did have dinner with the president. Could you give us a read out on that? And are we expecting his resignation as governor soon, what?

CARNEY: I have nothing to say about hypothetical -- hypothetical personnel moves. I can tell you, as I think I did the other day, the president and -- considers Governor -- the governor of Massachusetts a very -- a good friend. He has broken bread with him on numerous occasions in the past and I'm sure will in the future. And I'm -- I was not a participant in this particular meal, but I'm sure that they had a discussion on a broad number of topics and enjoyed each other's company.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it was just a friendly meeting of business? Nothing strategic?

CARNEY: Yes, I don't have a read out of a personal dinner the president had. But they are friends. So, I would say, yes, a friendly dinner.

John (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jay, is the president satisfied with the explanation he's gotten from the FBI? (INAUDIBLE) conversation with Director Muller?

CARNEY: I'm not aware that he's had a conversation with the director. I can simply tell you that, you know, the process -- when --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) --

CARNEY: When the White House was notified, when the president's notified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But is he satisfied with how this has gone?

CARNEY: You know, the president was obviously surprised, but he -- as I think was made clear by the statement that he put out, he was very appreciative of General Petraeus' service and both in uniform and at the CIA, and as well as Holly Petraeus' service, and wanted that to be made clear. I -- you know, I -- there are protocols in place, as I understand it, and I haven't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) --

CARNEY: I don't have --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy (ph) with how this -- it sounds like you don't have an answer.

CARNEY: Well, I just -- I think it would be --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he was satisfied with --

CARNEY: I would totally (ph) not suggest that the president, you know, is -- given that he was surprised that he is, as I said before, pleased with the, you know, events of this past week, but the past several days. But the fact of the matter is, you know, there are processes in place to handle these kinds of things. They are playing out appropriately and the president is focused on, you know, working with members of Congress to enact an agenda that he believes the broad majority of the American people want enacted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it sounds like he doesn't like the fact that he was blindsided?

CARNEY: No, I didn't say that. I'm just saying that, you know, he has great admiration and respect for General Petraeus and his service --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Director Muller here (ph).

CARNEY: No, I understand that. But, again, I would refer, as I said earlier, to processes that are in place, as I understand it, at the FBI for how they deal with notifications of investigations. And I think that, you know, they are the best place to go for an explanation of those processes and procedures and why they're written the way they are and followed the way they are. All I can tell you is, the actions that were taken here and the notifications that have happened here and, you know, how the president has handled them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president concerned that Petraeus, this whole soap opera, (INAUDIBLE), this whole soap opera slows down the fiscal cliff negotiations, makes it harder, makes it easier? What's (INAUDIBLE) --

CARNEY: I haven't heard him make a judgment or express an opinion on that. I think that the issues that confront us are important enough and consuming enough with regards to the so-called fiscal cliff and the budget that he expects that those who are engaged in conversations about it, and negotiations about it, will be as focused as he is and will be in the days and weeks ahead.

So, you know, we have very concrete deadlines that are governing some of the actions that we have to take. And what we know is that on January 1st, everyone's taxes go up, everyone in this room, everyone, around the country, unless the House passes the bill that the Senate passed, which would extend tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people and 97 percent of small businesses. And the beauty of that partial solution to the fiscal cliff is that everyone supports it, everyone, Democrat and Republican, supports extending those tax cuts for the middle class, extending them for 98 percent of the American people and 97 percent of the small businesses.

So as you heard the president say on Friday, and as I know you'll hear him say when he meets with you tomorrow, you know, this is a step that the White House -- I mean that Washington can take that would create certainty for almost all Americans, certainly for almost all small businesses, would help alleviate some of the potential damage caused by -- that could be caused by the fiscal cliff and would enable -

(END LIVE FEED)

MALVEAUX: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney there, the daily briefing, getting a lot more attention than normal there, making the case here regarding the scandal that the president still does have faith in General Allen, faith in leading the war in Afghanistan. That he thinks very highly of General Allen. That is according to Jay Carney. Also saying that the president, again, was surprised to hear about the former CIA director, General Petraeus', affair and -- but accepted his resignation earlier in the week. And also emphasizing, as well, the timing of when the White House and the president notified about the problems and the scandal involving both of these top generals on Wednesday getting the news about General Petraeus, on Friday the news about General Allen. We're going to have a lot more on all of this with President Obama's deputy White House communications director, Jen Psaki. We're going to talk to her also about the president's plans to move forward now in his second term.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Four more year. A lot more work to be done. President Obama already in the middle of it. He has got to choose new cabinet members, of course. Find a way to keep us going off the fiscal cliff. Now he's got to deal with this growing scandal involving his former CIA director and the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. I want to bring in Jen Psaki. She is the traveling press secretary for President Obama's 2012 campaign and a very hard worker.

Jen, I promise you we will get --

JEN PSAKI, OBAMA 2012 CAMPAIGN TRAVELING PRESS SECRETARY: Hi there. How are you?

MALVEAUX: Good. Congratulations.

PSAKI: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: We will get to the policy questions in a moment. But let's first deal with what is on the table here. We saw Jay Carney. He got a lot of questions about this scandal. And one of the things I want to follow up here, and I think several of the reporters were trying to get at this, Jay Carney said a couple of times that it was FBI protocol when the president was notified. You got this investigation that happens weeks, if not months, but the president is notified about General Petraeus on Wednesday and the problems that he's having, and then General Allen on Friday. Is the president satisfied that this is -- that he was notified in a timely manner? Is he satisfied with the FBI protocol?

PSAKI: Well, Suzanne, I would refer to what Jay said. Obviously he said the president was surprised. This isn't what you're looking for the first week after you're elected. There is an investigation underway that the administration's moving swiftly on. And I expect they'll see that through. So, you know, in the meantime I think that people will be looking for answers and the administration's looking to find the answers that the American people are looking for.

MALVEAUX: Do you know if there is anything afoot? Would there be any effort that would be made on the White House behalf to change the FBI protocol so that the president would be notified of these kinds of problems earlier?

PSAKI: Well, that's not something I would be in the loop on. Obviously I don't work in the White House anymore. But, you know, protocols are in place for a reason. The president was informed. The administration has acted quickly. As you know, there's an investigation underway by the IG at the Department of Defense. And I expect as soon as there are details to be shared, that those will be shared.

MALVEAUX: Jen, the president obviously needs to get the security team in place. And Secretary Panetta has asked the president at least to put off General Allen's confirmation hearings for his NATO command position. Do you have any sense of how long that would be put off, if there's any kind of deadline or some sort of guidance in terms of how long that's going to last?

PSAKI: I do not. From being there, I expect they're probably taking it day-to-day. Of course they want to have people in place. The president has every confidence, as Jay mentioned, you know, in the personnel who are in place at this time. And, you know, I expect they'll be -- they'll be taking it day by day.

MALVEAUX: Tomorrow the president has his first press conference after the election, the re-election. He's going to get a lot of questions about this. How much of this, Jen, do you think is a distraction now to what you guys need to do moving forward?

PSAKI: Well, the president, of all people, knows, you don't govern in a bubble. He learned that over the first four year of his administration. Obviously he has an agenda that he wants to push forward. That's moving forward on resolving the fiscal cliff, getting to a second term agenda, whether that's comprehensive immigration reform or tax reform or many of the other item he talked about on the campaign trail. I expect he'll be fully prepared to answer questions then. You know, but he, like many other people in the White House and in the administration, are going to be seeing through these investigations that are underway already.

MALVEAUX: We know that Jay said the president has not made any decisions regarding cabinet members or a cabinet shakeup. He is meeting with labor leaders behind closed doors today. Also an impressive group of business leaders tomorrow. What is he hoping to accomplish?

PSAKI: Well, one of the other lessons the president learned from the first term is, you have to take the case to the American people. The American people are looking for less talk and more action. And part of that is having conversations with labor leaders and business leaders. I know he'll be meeting with civic leaders later this week about resolving the fiscal cliff, about what happens moving forward. So I expect that will be a big topic on the agenda today and in the week ahead.

MALVEAUX: Is there any indication from the president that he is hopeful that they're going to be able to avoid the fiscal cliff, the automatic spending cuts and the tax hikes that would go into effect next year?

PSAKI: Well, I think every indication. You know, one -- this is one of the topics that was discussed during the election. And the president, nearly every day, said, we can't afford to extend tax cuts to the high income. We can, right now, take a step to make sure middle class families know their tax cuts are extended. That's something the American people heard from him. You saw exit polls coming out of the election that more than 60 percent of the American public thinks that tax cuts on the highest income we no longer can afford them. So, you know, I do think that that's part of the conversation, that's a part of the decision making process. The president already has a plan in place. We can move forward on this right now. And I think he's very hopeful that members of Congress can come to an agreement and avoid the fiscal cliff before January 1st.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jen Psaki, good to see you, as always.

PSAKI: Thank you. Great to see you.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

New details on the scandal surrounding former CIA Director General Petraeus, live from the Pentagon, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: New details surrounding the scandal involving former CIA director, General Petraeus.

Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

What are we learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We are now hearing from two individuals who have knowledge of this, that General John Allen has adamantly denied he had any inappropriate relationship, any extramarital affair, with Jill Kelley. We have been told by a Pentagon official that General Allen directly denied this when asked to his bosses. We're told it's not Panetta -- he denied it, too -- but another senior official above him.

And Nick Patton Walsh is getting a statement from someone close to General Allen and it says, quote, "There is no affair. She's a bored, rich socialite involved with every single commander at CENTCOM because she's worked as an honorary ambassador." This official close to General Allen goes on to say that General Allen has never been alone with her, that they have apparently all mingled at social events, and that General Allen goes everywhere with his wife.

This said, it is still the case that General Allen is under investigation by the inspector general for what the Pentagon is calling inappropriately flirtation e-mails apparently with Julie Kelley, of course, the woman Paula Broadwell thought was moving in on David Petraeus. Broadwell sent e-mails to Kelley and that's what started all of this. Now General Allen now dragged in.

So where are we? Inspector general is still investigating General Allen, whether he had inappropriate e-mails to Kelley. But General Allen's saying through intermediaries he did not have an affair with this woman -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: This might be a basic question here. If there are flirtatious e-mails back and forth, is that grounds for dismissal or punishment?

STARR: Yes. Right.

MALVEAUX: What is that in the military role?

STARR: Right. Right. What are we talking about here? If you call someone "Sweetheart" or "Hon" in an e-mail, can you lose your career over that? We asked that question around the Pentagon and you get non-specific answers.

Basically, under military law, anything you do, as an officer, especially a senior officer, that brings discredit on the military, you can be held liable for. They -- I mean the blunt fact is, Suzanne, they can get you if they want to get you. That's the actual reality here.

So depending on what these e-mails show, depending on what was said, depending on what the intent was, I think this will all come out.

But you know what is interesting? Defense Secretary Panetta went right to the inspector general and sought a full investigation. No review, no analysis, none of those intermediary steps.

MALVEAUX: Barbara Starr, thank you. Appreciate it.

STARR: Sure.

MALVEAUX: Two weeks ago, this area in New York was on fire. Superstorm Sandy carved a path of destruction. A look at the devastation that still remains.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: It's been two weeks since Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast and several pockets of New York City, life is anything but normal. Some folks have lost everything.

Victor Blackwell is in Belle Harbor, New York, of Queens, talking to folks who lost their homes and they're simply trying to recover.

People forget a lot of people still are suffering.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a lot of people who are suffering. And, as you can see, it's raining, it's a very cold day in Belle Harbor, New York and we spoke with the people who lost their property, lost their homes, and they gave us one word -- overwhelmed. This is why. Take a look, beach 130th here in Belle Harbor and the Houses have been burned to their foundation.

The difficulty when telling this type of story that is people are used to seeing this on a television screen, right? But typically, it's a movie or a television studio. These are homes. People lived here.

This was a nest egg for one man. We spoke with Ron Wall, who owns a house to my right, and he says he got a message from his neighbor. It was just two orders in a text, and it said, "It's gone."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(on camera): When you heard those two words, it's gone, what did you feel?

RON WALL, STORM SURVIVOR: Oh, dread. This is my life savings. I don't have a mortgage. This is my retirement, kid's college. This was -- still is -- I hope to collect. It's overwhelming. I still can't believe it, that a week ago this -- two weeks ago this was a house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: It was his nest egg, his retirement plan. Hoping it still can be, once he gets all of the information back from his insurance adjuster, who he met with today -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Is there much help that these folks are getting where you are?

BLACKWELL: The cleanup has begun. You can see some work is happening behind me. Out to rock away beach where we saw bull dozers taking sand off the streets that went in for several blocks. Putting it through sifting machines to rebuild the beach and get rid of the debris. Also the boardwalk was ripped apart so they're going to start rebuilding that soon.

We saw a towel someone had written a phrase on at the beach, and it said" Never retreat, never surrender, not now, not ever. Rockaways forever." This community's determined to return.

MALVEAUX: Good for them.

If you want to help the storm victims in the northeast, it's easy to do. Log onto to CNN.com/impact. Find all kinds of information, how to contribute to the relief effort. Just go to the site.

New details keep coming out about the scandal surrounding the former director of the CIA, and what people are saying about this affair.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Here on the "Help Desk," we're talking about your mortgage.

With me, Greg Olsen and Carmen Wong Ulrich.

Carmen, this question's for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A single parent who manages a lot of different finances, what is best way to get ahead with my mortgage and to ensure that I am maximizing the value of my home?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: What is best way?

CARMEN WONG ULRICH, PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER, ALTA WEALTH MANAGEMENT: A great question because it's what she should not be focused on now. You mortgage is cheap money. It's something you need to pay on time every time. As a single parent one in six single parents declare bankruptcy. Protect yourself more than anyone who is in a couple with emergency fund, retirement savings. Those take priority over prepaying mortgages. Best thing you're doing is paying on time.

KOSIK: Pay the minimum. Don't be in a rush to pay off the mortgage.

WONG ULRICH: Right.

KOSIK: Look to pay other things off.

GREG OLSEN, PARTNER, LENOX ADVISORS: Exactly. Hopefully, she went with 30-year mortgage because that's the only time that inflation is working for you. Inflation works against your investments long term, but when you have a 30-year mortgage and debt, inflation works for you.

Make monthly payments on time. She has a low interest rate environment in mortgage.

(CROSSTALK)

OLSEN: So it's not an opportunity to refinance but if there's an opportunity she can do that as well.

KOSIK: Thanks.

If you've got an issue you want experts to tackle, upload 30-second video with your "Help Desk" question to ireport.com.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: We're getting news in here. Senator Diane Feinstein telling our Dana Bash she hopes to call in former CIA director, General Petraeus, into a closed session to have him come in and answer some questions, perhaps as early as Friday. Their committee, of course, Intelligence Committee, looking into the matter of Benghazi, the attack on Benghazi, when and what officials knew at a particular time, and whether or not the CIA and the White House and the Pentagon properly protected officials who were there on the ground who were killed in that attack. Petraeus having stepped down as head of the CIA over the scandal, she's hoping certainly that at least, in closed session, they'll be able to get answers from him, perhaps as early as Friday.

Petraeus scandal raising a lot of questions as well. Members of Congress want to know why they weren't informed earlier. There's also a lot of regret. You have a stellar military career ending this way. People have been involved in scandals on their own are reluctant to throw stones.

Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM MCGREEVEY, (D), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I'm sure there will be plenty of people to cast stones and those stones will be thrown. It's just that when you look at General Petraeus, you look at General Allen, these are exceptional men, and that clearly there were inappropriate or seemingly was inappropriate relationship.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R), MAINE: I am puzzled by much of what has occurred in the FBI investigation and also the latest information that perhaps General Petraeus' friend had access to some classified information. I will say that I think it's absolutely imperative that General Petraeus come and testify.

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's a very sad situation to have a distinguished career like that end in this manner.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D), FLORIDA: I agree with Secretary Panetta, who said that we -- absolutely there should have been notification of the intelligence congressional leadership, as is the proper protocol, long before it occurred.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: If you want to know more about this story, the scandal surrounding former General Petraeus, visit "Security Clearance" on CNN.com.

The presidential campaign has come and gone. It's only been a week. But it leaves funny moments to remember. We'll take a look back the 2012 election, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Mitt Romney's former running mate, Paul Ryan, says President Obama won fair and square. Ryan admits the Obama camp did a better job at reaching voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R), WISCONSIN & FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I really have no regrets at all. It was an honor to be on this ticket. It is an honor that comes to very few people. It was a well- run campaign. We made this campaign about big ideas and big issues, which is the kind of campaign we wanted to run. So we ran the kind of campaign we wanted to run. And it just wasn't enough at the end of the day. We just had to accept that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Congressman Ryan brushed aside any talk of a 2016 White House run, telling the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel," "I think we're all tired of presidential politics at this time."

The presidential race might be over, but it left us with some pretty unforgettable moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks and they brought us whole binders full of women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Comedian Dean Obeidallah has the funny moments from the presidential race, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: What a difference a week makes. Remember last Tuesday, yes, just a week ago, that was election night. And just seven days ago, the country was hyped up about the long lines in Florida, voter I.D. laws and, of course, Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. Now we've got this bizarre Pentagon scandal stealing the headlines.

Our friend and comedian, Dean Obeidallah, is joining us.

Dean --

(LAUGHTER)

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, COMEDIAN: Yes.

MALVEAUX: -- I can't believe it was a week ago, just a week ago, like, I mean, I don't even get it.

OBEIDALLAH: I miss it so much, I still check the polls every day to see if there is any changes. There are no new polls.

(LAUGHTER)

I was obsessed with the election. I'm coming down to earth now and relaxing.

MALVEAUX: You know what, I love it, because you gave us some real highlights, moments that we're going to remember for a good long time. One of those highlights, of course, a lot of bloopers that everybody made.

OBEIDALLAH: yes.

MALVEAUX: And you have a list of your favorites here, starting with Herman Cain and foreign policy. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN, (R), FORMER GODFATHER'S PIZZA CEO & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And when they ask me, who is the president of Ubeki-beki- beki-stan-stan, I'm going to say, I don't know. Do you know?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: What did that mean for you, Dean? That was a turning point.

OBEIDALLAH: This is a man I wanted to get the Republican presidential nominee. You know how much funnier this campaign would have been if Herman Cain was the nominee and not Mitt Romney? Herman Cain even sang songs, like "Imagine there's no pizza." He should host a variety show -- him and, like, Sarah Palin could do a "Sonny and Cher" type of team. They would be hilarious. I think big ratings. I think people would tune in and watch those two together.

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: You also love this one too. This is one that kind of raised a lot of eyebrows. The "binders of women" with Romney in the second presidential debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I said, well, gosh, can't we find some women that are also qualified? And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said can you help us find folks and they brought us whole binders full of women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: You used that quite a bit. That got a lot of --

(LAUGHTER)

-- it was a lot going on after that. I don't think he meant it to be funny, but it was a lot of fodder afterwards.

OBEIDALLAH: When I was a teenage, I had binders full of women I hid under my bed so my mom couldn't find them.

(LAUGHTER)

So I know exactly what he's talking about. I had really talented women in those binders. That, and Big Bird were the two big things with Mitt.

MALVEAUX: I want to play the clip, the president singing --

OBEIDALLAH: Sure.

MALVEAUX: -- because that really kind of turned the corner for some folks who thought, you know, he wasn't being warm and it was kind of dry. He started singing. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(CHEERING)

(SINGING)

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So, Dean, I know a lot of people who turned that into their ring tone on their phone.

OBEIDALLAH: Really?

MALVEAUX: I kid you not. People were really that enamored by that moment. What do you make of that?

OBEIDALLAH: It is a great moment. A very warm moment. And he carried a tune, which is nice.

But you have to remember, Mitt Romney also sang during the campaign, sang "America the Beautiful." We should have had "American Presidential Idol." Put them up. Let them sing. Put them on "The Voice." Let us vote that way. I think more young people would have voted in this election. It was a great moment. It makes them human to be honest with you. Makes the president a human being. And it is a nice quality.

MALVEAUX: One thing that wasn't human that was really weird was this Clint Eastwood chair little thing he did at the RNC. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: How do you handle it? I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just -- you know, I know people -- (END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: All right, Dean, wrap it up for us. That was the moment.

OBEIDALLAH: It was very funny. It looked more like a commercial for ginkgo biloba, some memory loss product. Overall, I think Clint Eastwood -- I thought he was more endearing and funny. I'm sure Mitt Romney, backstage, not laughing at all. But Clint Eastwood was funny. He should tour the country, him and the chair.

MALVEAUX: I think people were actually suggesting that.

Dean --

(CROSSTALK)

MALVEAUX: -- I can't believe still it was just a week ago, seven days ago was the election, but now we got lots more to talk about. And, of course --

(CROSSTALK)

OBEIDALLAH: Sex scandals.

MALVEAUX: The scandal, among many other things.

Got to let you go, Dean. I'm sure we'll find the humor in some of that as well.

OBEIDALLAH: Thanks.

MALVEAUX: CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Ted Rowlands.

Hey, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Suzanne.