Return to Transcripts main page


Petraeus Scandal Deepens; Common Ground at the Fiscal Cliff?; New Twist In Petraeus Sex Scandal; General John Allen Investigated; FBI Agents Search Broadwell's Home; Snowboarders Trapped On Mt. Rainier; Cold And Fed Up; Recovering From Sandy; A Healthy Cola?; Oprah Going Organic?; In A "GIF"; Petraeus' Successor Now Linked To Scandal; The Other Other Woman?

Aired November 13, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Florida congresswoman and DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz joins us.

It's Tuesday, November 13th, STARTING POINT begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Morning, welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning. Breaking news. Another top military general has now been linked to the sex scandal that forced out CIA director, David Petraeus. Forced him to resign.

General John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, is now under investigation for alleged inappropriate communications with Jill Kelley. Now investigators are said to be looking into the 20,000 to 30,000 pages of e-mails and other documents that he sent to her. Kelley, of course, is the Florida woman whose original complaint to the FBI about threatening e-mails inadvertently exposed the affair between General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell.

Meantime a team of FBI agents searched Broadwell's home in Charlotte, North Carolina, overnight, and spent nearly five hours there wrapping up -- wrapping up just after 1:00 in the morning.

"Wall Street Journal" is reporting that the FBI agent who launched the Petraeus investigation himself is under investigation. In part because he sent shirtless pictures of himself to Jill Kelley. Jill Kelley, the woman who kicked off all of this investigation by complaining about the e-mails that she was getting from the Petraeus mistress.

So the agent who knew Kelley allegedly sent those pictures before any investigation began, but as you can see, the story is getting much more complicated.

We've got team coverage of the breaking news this morning. Chris Lawrence is at the Pentagon for us.

Chris, I don't even know where to begin because there's so much to talk about. Let's start with General Allen. What's the implications of this -- of him being brought in to Petraeus scandal and what has he said about it?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So far, from what we've heard from Defense officials, Soledad, John Allen has denied any wrongdoing in this matter.

What is the matter at hand is on Sunday the FBI notified the Pentagon that they had 20,000 to 30,000 pages of e-mails, which contained inappropriate contact between General John Allen, and Jill Kelley. Yesterday, Secretary Panetta asked that John Kelley -- or John Allen's nomination to be the head of NATO be pulled back and put on hold while the inspector general starts to dig through all of these pages to find out exactly what happened.

Here's how it all connects. General John Allen was stationed in Tampa when he was at U.S. Central Command. So was General David Petraeus. Jill Kelley worked as sort of a social liaison with a lot of the commanders there. In fact, she's been -- won awards for her work with some of the military families, and the military down there.

Now, Paula Broadwell started e-mailing Jill Kelley. And from what we know, some of those e-mails were basically took the tone of, you know, stay away from David Petraeus, sort of, I know sort of your relationship with some of these other generals, it's inappropriate.

At the time it didn't make sense. Because what we've been told is, David Petraeus and Jill Kelley are family friends. That David Petraeus and his wife Holly have spent time with Jill Kelley and her husband. That there was no romantic involvement between Petraeus and Kelley. But apparently Broadwell may have thought so. And so started this whole e-mail chain because of what she may have believed, which now has spiraled to include not only Petraeus, but General John Allen.

I know that's a lot. But it is hard to sort of piece all of this together. But that's what we believe right now -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: That is just very bizarre. All right, thank you for updating us. We certainly appreciate it.

Chris Lawrence for us at the Pentagon this morning.

Let's get to retired General James "Spider" Marks. We were talking to him yesterday, of course. CNN military analyst, knows both General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell well.

Thank you for talking with us. So, let's go to Miss Kelley now, whose name has now been added to this mix. Twenty to 30,000 e-mail documents is what we're hearing about. General Allen says that he's done nothing wrong, according to what Chris Lawrence just told us from the Pentagon.

How unusual would this be? I mean, she is the honorary social ambassador, which basically means a party planner. Fill me in on what this means and the implications. GEN. JAMES MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Soledad, I need to tell you, this is incredibly -- as you said, it's incredibly confusing. I don't know where to start. First, 20,000 to 30,000 e- mails, of course, that's what's been suggested. What will investigators will figure all that out. That's a heck of a lot of time behind the computer sending notes to a party planner. From a senior officer who has, obviously, a bunch of things on his plate.

And he's burning a lot of daylight spending time with a party planner over the -- over e-mail. So that's just bizarre in my mind.

The fact to the point of what has been described as an honorary ambassador to the community, this liaison between Tampa and the commanded MacDill Air Force Base, a role like that is certainly not unusual. In my experience there is always a very tight bond with the local community in terms of what it, the community, can do to facilitate the service members on post, make their lives a little easier, thank them for their service.

And so this interaction is really a mosaic. It's just kind of the fabric. And it's really -- frankly it's really pretty neat. And you're very thankful for all of that. But this -- the implications of Jill Kelley -- her husband, the Petraeus's, Paula Broadwell, John Allen, I mean this is just a mess in my mind.

And I'm not suggesting that there's anything nefarious going on here. It's just we're spending a heck of a lot of time while our nation is still at war concerned about, you know, bad behavior, possible, possible bad behavior --


O'BRIEN: Can I ask you a question, sir?

MARKS: It's crazy.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. One of the things as we now know a little bit more about how Paula Broadwell and General Petraeus were communicating, I find it stunning that someone who would be the head of the CIA is basically chatting with his girlfriend over Gmail.

I guess that -- that, actually of all this, I find that the most remarkable thing.

MARKS: Yes, it's a thing called hubris. It's a thing -- assuming you're like -- and I'm going to try to transpose, let me get into David Petraeus' shoes, for a second, and say, you know, I've been doing this for four decades, I'm now out of the army, my goodness, I feel isolated in this new, quote, "civilian world" I'm a part of, maybe the rules don't apply to me anymore.

And I'm just -- I'm just guessing on my part. But clearly that's what it demonstrates. That's what it demonstrates.

O'BRIEN: Yes, well, I agree. It's so interesting, and sort of bizarre. So Spider Marks joining us this morning. Thank you for calling in to the show. We appreciate your time, thanks.

MARKS: Sure. OK.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's turn to Washington now where of course there was a confirmation hearing for General Allen's pending nomination to command the U.S.-European Command and NATO forces in Europe. It's all going to be delayed because of this scandal.

White House correspondent Brianna Keilar has been following developments on that front for us.

Hey, Brianna. Good morning.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad. And I'll tell you, we just got reaction in from the White House. The first since this new development involving General Allen. This reiterating what we'd heard overnight in a written statement from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. This is from the spokesman for the NSC, the National Security Council, says, "At the request of the secretary of defense the president has put on hold his nomination of General Allen as Supreme Allied Commander Europe."

That's the top U.S. commander in Europe, the head of NATO forces in Europe. This is pending the investigation of General Allen's conduct by the Department of Defense inspector general. Says, "The president remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan, who General Allen continues to lead as he has so ably done for over a year. Meanwhile the president has nominated General Dunford to be the next commander of ISAF." So the head of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, "And reiterates his belief that the Senate should act swiftly to confirm General Dunford."

Now, General Allen, Soledad, I'll tell you, is in Washington, because he was supposed to be going through this confirmation hearing process on the Hill on Thursday. That is what has been put on hold here. General Joseph Dunford had already been lined up to replace him in Afghanistan, and this is President Obama, basically saying please move forward with that, and his confirmation hearing on Thursday is expected to move forward as planned.

At a critical time as President Obama tries to figure out how to bring home those 68,000 remaining troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 as scheduled -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Brianna Keilar for us this morning. Brianna, thank you.

So Vernon Loeb who is "The Washington Post" reporter who co-wrote Paula Broadwell's book about General Petraeus says he was absolutely dumbfounded by the affair. He wrote an op-ed that was posted last night and he says this, in part, in the op-ed, "On rare occasions, her good looks and close access would prompt a colleague to raise an eyebrow about their relationship. But I never took it seriously."

He also said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VERNON LOEB, WASHINGTON POST LOCAL EDITOR: I never fully understood it but I always sort of rationalized it in my own mind as something that he felt, you know, he could control, and that because it was so public, that both of them felt there was never any danger of it becoming anything other than, you know, journalist/subject, professional relationship.


O'BRIEN: In a few minutes we're going to be talking with Congressman Jason Chaffetz, he's a member of the House Oversight Committee.

First, though, want to get to an update on some of the other stories that are not scandal this morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I've got to say, you know, to coin a term they use a lot, this thing is a hot mess.

O'BRIEN: And seems like it's only going to get more messy if you listen to Paula Broadwell's father, who did an interview with "The Daily News." He said this is essentially just the tip of the iceberg. So we'll see where it goes.


BERMAN: There is other news today. Not as much of a hot mess as this but a lot going on in the world.

"The Washington Post" is reporting that President Obama is preparing to make a major Cabinet shuffle. It says he's considering Democratic Senator John Kerry to serve as his next Defense secretary and that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, would be his top pick to take over as secretary of state for outgoing Hillary Clinton.

O'BRIEN: So that means, who would come in to replace him in the Senate?

BERMAN: That's the big problem right there. There would be a special election. A lot of people think that Republican Senator Scott Brown, outgoing Republican senator, would be the favorite. That's actually working against Senator Kerry's nomination for anything because you don't think that the Democrats don't want to lose a seat potentially in the Senate.

O'BRIEN: That's what I was saying.

BERMAN: The man who made sure our computers stay virus-free wanted for questioning in connection with a murder. This thing is a mess, too. John McAfee, who created the popular anti-virus software, is in hiding after his neighbor was found shot to death in Belize. Police say they want to talk to McAfee but they say right now he is nowhere to be found. Republican Congressman Paul Ryan says losing last week's election was, quote, "a foreign experience." But, in his first interview since his failed VP -- VP bid, he said he's not dwelling on it.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I really have no regrets at all. It was an honor to be on this ticket. It's 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. It just wasn't enough at the end of the day and we just have to accept that.


BERMAN: Ryan says President Obama's re-election campaign did a better job of getting voters to the polls. And he says they won fair and square.

O'BRIEN: That was an interesting interview.

BERMAN: It was.

O'BRIEN: Interesting to see that.

All right, thank you, John. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, going to have more on those breaking news stories.

Two major U.S. leaders caught up in a sex scandal. The investigation began months ago in the summer. So why did the FBI not tell Congress any earlier?

We're going to be chatting with Jason Chaffetz, he's a member of the House Oversight Committee. He's going to join us up next.


O'BRIEN: Morning, welcome, everybody. Our team joining us this morning.

Suzy Welch is back. She's the columnist and best-selling author. Always wearing fabulous shoes, I might also point out.

Nice to have you with us.

Roland Martin is going to join us in a minute. He's the host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin." He'll be with us in just a moment.

And also joining us are Congressman Chaffetz, we'll be chatting with him about what is happening with our U.S. military. It's completely out of control. John Berman sticks around with us, as well. Let's talk about the new information in this scandal surrounding the CIA chief David Petraeus. We're now learning that General John Allen, the man who took over for Petraeus as command of the U.S. naval forces in Afghanistan, is being investigated, as well, for alleged inappropriate communications with Jill Kelley.

Who is Jill Kelley? She is the woman who kicked off the original Petraeus probe when she complained about hostile e-mails that she was getting from the person who turned out to be Petraeus' mistress.

Congressman Chaffetz, so much to start with. Let's begin with John Allen. How much concern is there for you? He said that he has done nothing wrong. How much concern do you have in fact that this investigation is widening?

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R) UTAH: Well, look, these are some of our top commanders. You're not a four-star general unless you've -- you have some serious gravitas to actually get some stuff done.

I want to make sure that the president is fully engaged. One of the things that's troubling to me is the idea that, for instance, going back to David Petraeus, that he just learned about it last week. I have a hard time believing that. If months and months and months ago this investigation started, he's not the head of Fish and Wildlife. He's the head of the CIA. And if he's been compromised in any way, shape or form, the president of the United States needs to know that. And Congress needs to be notified of that.

O'BRIEN: Are you annoyed that you were not notified? We know that Eric Cantor knew, I think, in September or October? He was told.

CHAFFETZ: Look, you're not going to notify all of Congress. But you do have a fiduciary responsibility to tell the chairman and the ranking member of both the House and Senate of the intelligence committee. And if they were not informed, and it looks like Senator Feinstein was not informed, then something is grossly wrong. Those people have to know.

O'BRIEN: As you know, there are people who'd say it's a sex scandal. He is not the first general -- I'm going to go out on a limb, and say he's not the first general to have an affair. Maybe the first one who's been got caught in a public way.


CHAFFETZ: But it's a crime. It's a crime in the military. And those are four-stars. You don't go to the bathroom without six people knowing where you're going. So there are a lot of people that are knowing, you know, where he was, who had proximity, and again, these are some very serious positions that can compromise -- who are these women? Do they have ties to other states? Do they -- what is their background? What is going on here?

Because, I mean, whether you eat Corn Flakes or Froot Loops in the morning there are other intelligence agencies that want to know that. And if you're sleeping around, that's some pretty serious. O'BRIEN: You know what I find weird in all of this? The whole use -- maybe I'm the only one, I'm just amazed that like Gmail? It just seems for people who are responsible for our nation's security and at the highest levels of military intelligence, are using like the Gmail account and doing that --


BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) within Gmail, right?

O'BRIEN: They just seems so --

SUZY WELCH, COLUMNIST AND BESTSELLING AUTHOR: Just think about distracted they were. I mean you're carrying on a relationship, and they must have been so distracted, so distracted that you would send this kind of communication through Gmail. It shows, how much were they thinking about the work that we are hoping they're thinking about? You know, the military, we're hoping -- these guys are sending 20,000 e-mails?

O'BRIEN: To 30,000 on General Allen's case, to a party planner. That seems --

CHAFFETZ: I still think, though, that General Petraeus should testify before Congress about Libya and Benghazi. I feel --

O'BRIEN: Will he? I mean you could make that happen, right?

CHAFFETZ: We could. But I don't want to take eye off the ball. We have four dead Americans. We've got people in the hospital tonight. We've got embassies all over the world that need time and attention. And I don't want to let, you know, a salacious story distract from the fact that General Petraeus should put his duty, his honor, his country first and foremost and testify before Congress.

O'BRIEN: See, I'm not so curious, I'm not even sure if it's only salacious, which is sort of how it started, right? Because the FBI is at Paula Broadwell's house, or they were this morning.


O'BRIEN: They wrapped up at, like, 1:00 in the morning. Why? Taking computers and things from her home.

CHAFFETZ: Well, and that does -- it does suggest that there's something more serious. Look, if you have a woman who is jealous about another, that's not enough to go get the kind of warrants that you need in order to gather this information. Dive into the CIA director's e-mail. There has to be something of much more serious --

O'BRIEN: We're going to ask you to stick around as we continue our conversation. Because we have to talk about the fiscal cliff with you this morning. Forty-nine days and counting. Is that enough time to get a deal done with Congress?

We're back in just a moment. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT. We're back with Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

Let's talk about the fiscal cliff. We've heard a lot of conciliatory words. I think it's better to put it that way. Do you think that there's going to be an agreement?

CHAFFETZ: I hope so. The country needs one. I think the country, more than ever, wants us to come together. Of course --

O'BRIEN: So what does it look like in your mind? What agreement? Is it an agreement where both people give something or an agreement where one person gives everything?

CHAFFETZ: Well, no one person gets everything they want. I mean we want a growth plan. We want to get our fiscal situation under order.

O'BRIEN: So what does it look like? Draw it for me.


CHAFFETZ: Well, we need --


O'BRIEN: But wait, we love having you in person. I got to tell you.


I could just reach out tap him when I'm going to interrupt him and say, come on. So spill it out.

CHAFFETZ: The upper cuts during the commercial break --

O'BRIEN: What? What? I was having breakfast during the commercial break.

What does it look like? What does the agreement literally, specifically look like in your head?

CHAFFETZ: Look, I believe we need to cut spending. We have to --

O'BRIEN: OK. That's part of it.

CHAFFETZ: We have to cut spending. We have to engage in entitlement reform.


CHAFFETZ: We have to do that. And we've got to revise the tax code. Now revising the tax code is going to be hard to do in literally the days that we have before the fiscal cliff. But I do think we can come to some common ground, particularly as it relates to getting rid of some of these loopholes and exceptions -- O'BRIEN: Close loopholes. OK, so then --

CHAFFETZ: We can do that.

O'BRIEN: Side people on the (INAUDIBLE), what loopholes?

CHAFFETZ: Well, there's a host of them out there. Isn't it? Romney said during the campaign there's so many out there. And I want the president to suggest some, as well. One of the things that Democrats --

O'BRIEN: Mortgage deductions?

CHAFFETZ: Maybe there should be some sort of cap as to the total number of deductions --

O'BRIEN: Child tax credit.

CHAFFETZ: There are all sorts of -- there's no limit on the ones that are out there. There are literally thousands of these that are out there. Some are bigger than others but we have to get responsible on our spending platform.

O'BRIEN: Raise taxes for people who are making $250,000-plus?

CHAFFETZ: That's not something I think that we should be doing. I don't believe we should be increasing the tax rate. I like what Speaker Boehner said and said, look, let's work on closing these loopholes and deductions. That is common ground. There's no reason why we can't come together.

ROMANS: But that would be taxes on people. And so this is where you get this fight in the Republican Party. Because if your taxes go up but your tax rate doesn't go up, is that a sell Republicans can live with?

CHAFFETZ: It's not -- it depends how it's mixed up. We don't want to raise the tax rate. If you're closing loopholes and broadening the base, lowering the rate, then I think we could get there.

O'BRIEN: You signed Grover Norquist's pledge, I'm going to assume, because pretty much every Republicans congressman did.

CHAFFETZ: Yes, it's pretty -- yes.

O'BRIEN: So would you be fine doing a compromise where you would go against your signature on that pledge? I mean if that's what it came to and you felt like there was a compromise on the table, would you be fine to say --

CHAFFETZ: I do not -- I do not --

O'BRIEN: To the pledge --

CHAFFETZ: I do not --

O'BRIEN: Dramatic, wasn't it?

CHAFFETZ: It was dramatic.


O'BRIEN: But I need these notes so I'm going to put them back like that. OK.

CHAFFETZ: I do not intend to do that. I want to fight for the principles I believe in. I, too, was elected, and I think that's part of the give and take.

ROMANS: But Grover Norquist did not elect you. Your constituents elected you.

CHAFFETZ: I know. But I believe in that.

ROMANS: Grover Norquist said -- you don't represent for Grover Norquist. You represent your constituents and the American people.

CHAFFETZ: I didn't sign it because I was trying to please Grover Norquist. I signed it because I believe it. I don't believe that we are one good tax increase away from prosperity in this nation. I really do believe that we have to rein in spending, we've got to broaden the base, lower the rate and get this country working again.

WELCH: Most people, nost Republicans are where you are, do you actually see some kind of compromise occurring? Because it sounds like where we were six, seven months ago. No, don't raise the tax rate, and others saying raise the tax rate. And then, where's the movement?

CHAFFETZ: You know, it's interesting. A lot of people argue well, let's go back to the tax rates of President Clinton. And remember, let's remember that there was a Republican House back then. But let's get also the spending down so the spending levels. Right now we're spending in excess of 24 percent of GDP. In the Clinton years we were spending about 19 percent.

So if the president is going to argue let's go back to the Clinton tax rates we're going to argue let's go back to the Clinton spending rates.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Chaffetz, it's nice to have you with us. We're going to make you stick around all morning. We'd appreciate that.

All right. We've got to take a short break. Coming up we're going to talk more about this scandal that has now expanded into General John Allen who announced that he has done nothing wrong.

We're going to be talking to Congressman Elijah Cummings, he's the ranking member of the House oversight committee. That's ahead.

And Oxford Dictionary has chosen its word of the year. Hmm. We'll tell you what it is. Back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're following breaking news this morning. The Pentagon now says they're investigating General John Allen. He is the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, all in the David Petraeus sex scandal.

Allen is under investigation for alleged inappropriate communications with Jill Kelley. Officials say they have uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of e-mail and other documents. Investigation could block General Allen from becoming NATO's supreme allied commander.

As for Ms. Kelley, she's the Florida woman who triggered the initial Petraeus FBI investigation after she got anonymous threatening e-mails that turned out to be from Petraeus' mistress Paula Broadwell.

I know, follow. Stay with me, people. It's very complicated. I could get a flow chart for you. So overnight the FBI, you're looking at pictures right here from Charlotte, North Carolina, that's folks from the FBI doing what they called a consensual search of Paula Broadwell's North Carolina home.

They spent nearly 5 hours there, departing eventually around 1:00 in the morning. Let's go right to Nick Paton Walsh. He is in Beirut for us this morning, Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon.

In fact, Chris, let's start with you. The pictures of the removal of items from Paula Broadwell's house, I think, brings this scandal, which has so far been a sex scandal, kind of to a new level at least for me.

Why would they be at her home removing documents this late when we know that they discovered the original evidence of an affair back in the summer?

LAWRENCE: Well, it would suggest, Soledad, that this was consensual. In other words, that Paula Broadwell consented to allow them to go in and get whatever they needed.

Because at this point, we don't believe this is some sort of criminal prosecution, at this point. It would seem that Paula Broadwell may be cooperating with the FBI.

O'BRIEN: For what, though? Like cooperating on what front? I mean, she said she had an affair apparently, General Petraeus said they had an affair. If it's all about a sexual relationship, it kind of starts there and ends there, doesn't it? So what are you getting out in boxes that -- that's where I'm kind of perplexed?

LAWRENCE: Because, remember, they did find some classified material on Paula Broadwell's computer. Now whether she got that from David Petraeus, or perhaps from one of her other many, many sources out there, that remains to be seen.

But it did call into question how she knew about some of the movements of the CIA director that weren't publicized. They may be going in to see exactly what else is in there and, the bigger question, who else may be involved in this?

O'BRIEN: Yes, that's the really interesting question. Especially since it's now, Chris, expanded to really bringing a General John Allen. Explain to me what we've been calling a party planner. Others have called a social ambassador, honorary social ambassador. What is that position? What does that person do?

LAWRENCE: Any time you've got a big military base, as U.S. Central Command is in Tampa. The military commanders, they reach out and form alliances, relationships, with the community. You've often got people in the community who become liaisons to the military post there.

Organizing events, things at which the military and the community would coordinate on. That's what Jill Kelley was, an integral part of that community and its relationship. The relationship between all three stems from the fact that General Allen and David Petraeus were both based in central command.

They're in Tampa, physically where Jill Kelley lives. Now we're told from sources that Jill Kelley and Petraeus had a simple friend relationship, the couples, wives, husbands, were all friends.

But that Paula Broadwell may not have seen it that way and may have e- mailed Jill Kelley as sort of a warning, because she thought that there was a relationship that perhaps wasn't there.

O'BRIEN: Which is how it all -- I'm sorry, Chris.

LAWRENCE: Just this -- this revelation of Allen really calls into question the time line of who knew what and when. And by that I mean those who have said the White House had known all about this for months and months, it just doesn't wash.

Because if they knew all about this, why would the Obama administration put General Allen's name up for nomination, release a statement praising his service, schedule all these hearings, fly him here from Afghanistan, only to have all this fall apart at the last minute. If they knew all these details, it just doesn't make a lot of sense.

O'BRIEN: And why are they searching her home if, in fact, it's just about a sexual relationship between biographer and her subject. All right, Chris Lawrence, thank you.

General John Allen, of course, denying any wrongdoing as we've mentioned. Nick Paton Walsh was recently on the ground with the troops in Afghanistan. He's spent time with General Allen. He is in Beirut for us this morning.

Tell me a little bit about General John Allen. I think that there are so many things that are so complicated about this story. So give us some insight into who he is and how he treats certainly the folks who -- who served with him.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much respected career soldier. He became the head of U.S. forces in the NATO campaign in Afghanistan.

A man with acute understanding of the problems that the conflict faced there even though his job to the most extent was a public relations man to try to sell the success of that particular war.

A man who also had an incredibly complicated task ahead of him, much of what's going to happen in Afghanistan is being decided in Washington, significantly months ahead and he's simply implementing it.

A man also inspired great loyalty of many of the people working alongside of him. I remember one aide who had done lengthy service in Iraq said he would take a call from General John Allen at any time to go and work with him again.

He did that in Kabul and described to me once there a story of how they were in a diner, in Iraq, shell landed near that ding facility and a younger soldier leapt under the table to try and get cover.

John Allen stayed in his seat and leaned under the table and said, son, you're not going to win the war from down there. Very much a man who made those around him work hard. Fearless sense of respect and loyalty and I'm sure they'll be surprised at what they're hearing now.

O'BRIEN: Nick Paton Walsh for us this morning, thank you. In just a few moments, we're going to be talking with Congressman Elijah Cummings about the Petraeus scandal.

First though, I want to get right to John with an update on the day's top stories.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. At first light, rescuers will try to return to the place where they spotted two stranded snowboarders on Washington's Mount Rainier.

Darkness and bad weather forced rescuers to back off last night. They had to spend a second night on the mountain. They called 911 Sunday to report they were trapped in a blizzard.

Thousands now entering week three without power after superstorm Sandy and anger is boiling over especially at LIPA, the power company that serves Long Island and hard-hit far Rockaway in Queens.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I can't get light on for my kids? I can't get power, heat, garbage pickup, nothing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All we need is help. I'm a taxpayer. I don't get this. I pay my mortgage. I do what I do are the right things. I don't take from the government, but I need the government to help me now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We go to bed at night, shivering, wearing tons of clothes every single night. We have not seen one LIPA truck come down my block. Not one. I have not seen any on any of these blocks. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Meantime, New York City has now OK'd $500 million to repair the city schools and hospitals. And in New Jersey, gas rationing ends today.

And your "A.M. House Call," a fat fighting soda. Pepsi Cola is to debut its new fiber infused drink today. The Pepsi special contains dextrin, a fiber designed to help reduce fat levels.

O'BRIEN: Sixteen ounce cup --

BERMAN: I expect that's the question of the day.

O'BRIEN: Gallons of that.

BERMAN: On the stuff that could help, Oprah Winfrey is going organic. She's apparently adding food and hair and body products to her empire. Online patent documents show she filed several applications this fall for Opera's Organics, Oprah's Harvest, and Oprah's Farm. The products reportedly range from frozen veggies and soups to soap and sunscreen.

And you can thank social media once again for adding to your vocabulary. GIF is Oxford's word of the year for 2012. It stands for graphics interchange format. It's one of the oldest formats for posting pictures on the internet. GIF edged out YOLO, short for you only live once, and superstorm, a late addition after Sandy, of course.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: GIF, that's the best I can do.

O'BRIEN: I know?

BERMAN: The reason it's big now is you can animate it. You can actually make it move and stuff and that's a big deal.

O'BRIEN: Very much --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shows how old you are. Like anybody under 30 today, GIF is how they communicate with each other.

MARTIN: That's the best they can do?

O'BRIEN: I agree. I just don't think --

MARTIN: That's the best they can do.

O'BRIEN: Superstorm made an entrance about two weeks ago.

BERMAN: Didn't have time to pick up --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we could do better.

O'BRIEN: No need to introduce Roland Martin who jumped right in. We've been talking all morning about Petraeus sex scandal.

MARTIN: This is crazy.

O'BRIEN: It's now expanded. We know that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, is also under investigation for these, what they called inappropriate communications. Jill Kelley, Jill Kelley linked to the scandal because she was the recipient of the hostile e-mails.

That were coming first anonymously from what turned out to be Paula Broadwell, who turned out, we should do a chart, turns out to be the mistress of General Petraeus. Defense official tells CNN that authorities were looking into some 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents between Ms. Kelley and General Allen.

Secretary Leon Panetta announced it all in a statement released at 1:00 in the morning, this morning saying the FBI referred the case to the Pentagon. The Pentagon is now investigating.

Let's get right to Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. OK, let's start with General John Allen, which is the latest thing and we now know about announced by -- Leon Panetta at 1:00 in the morning.

How much concern do you have about what's happening in the story? Are we really just seeing sort of a tangled, you know, connections of what is essentially a sex scandal and nothing more than that?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I'm not sure what it is. And I think that that's why we need to let these investigations go forward to try to figure out what we have here.

I do believe that it's becoming quite serious when you're talking about 20,000 to 30,000 e-mails. I think we need to let it run its course as one who has done investigations.

And as a lawyer I can tell you that I think what the FBI has to do and which I know they are do something following the evidence wherever it may lead. And so we will just have to wait and see.

O'BRIEN: So General Allen says there's been no wrongdoing on his part. And yet I don't think I've even sent 30,000 e-mails to my producer who I talk to a zillion times a day.

I mean, that's a tremendous volume of messaging somebody who is in essence a party planner. Then you have the Fbi removing boxes of material from Paula Broadwell's house. What's the -- what's happening there? We're looking at pictures of it, by the way.

CUMMINGS: You know, I'm not sure what's happening. You never know how the FBI is operating and what they are finding. Again, in any investigation, a lot of times, Soledad, what happens is that things that they did not expect to find, they find.

And then again, they follow the evidence wherever it may lead. And so, I think that again we have the FBI investigation. We're going to have, I'm sure, the intelligence committee involved in this. I heard Senator Feinstein talking about her plans, so I think that we will get to the bottom of this.

And I think what will probably happen in the end is that we'll figure out what went wrong here. And it will be one of those critical moments where we have to correct our course, whatever mistakes may have been made, if any. But I do believe that this is a critical moment for our military.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Elijah Cummings joining us. He is a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

CUMMINGS: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he resigned after a sex scandal of his own. Former New Jersey Governor Jim Mcgreevey is going to join us to talk about sort of the fallout and how people deal with the fallout. That's straight ahead. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. That FBI probe that uncovered General Petraeus' affair with his biographer stem from alleged harassing e-mails that the biographer sent to another woman, 37-year- old Jill Kelley is that other woman, said to be close friends with the Petraeus family.

Jason Lanning is with our affiliate Bay-9 News outside of the Kelley's house in Tampa, Florida, this morning. Any comment yet from the Kelley family about all of this scandal, which is now, as you well know, growing by day?

JASON LANNING, BAY-9 NEWS: No. They've kept a very low profile since the weekend, as this controversy has grown for Jill Kelley, Soledad. Outside of the Kelley home today, things are fairly quiet.

Some media still camped out here. But you're looking live here at the Kelley home in Tampa that has hosted several military parties from McDill Air Force Base. That's how we have learned Kelley became friends with General David Petraeus.

And obviously, how this controversy started, that led to the scandal, and the end of General Petraeus' career with the CIA. We want to show you a picture of Jill Kelley right now, known here in Tampa as a volunteer and social liaison for McDill Air Force Base.

The Pentagon says it is now investigating inappropriate e-mails between Kelley and General John Allen, a top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. There are reports that there may be as many as 20,000 to 30,000 documents linking Kelley to Allen.

General Allen served as deputy commander, and for a short time, temporary commander, at U.S. Central Command here in Tampa, that from 2010 to 2012. Now we know Kelley had a social relationship and friendship with General Petraeus during that time. But we don't know what, if any, kind of relationship Kelley had with Allen when he served in Tampa. We do know that the Kelley family has hired ABE LOWE to represent them. He is an attorney that is known for his past representation of President Bill Clinton and Jack Abramoff, also John Edwards.

We also know the Kelley family has hired Judy Smith. That's a crisis manager that has previously worked with Monica Lewinsky. So if that gives you an idea of who the Kelley family now has representing them, it could say a lot about what may be contained in those 20,000 to 30,000 documents.

O'BRIEN: So, I should mention, it's 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, which is still a lot. But I think that's a critical detail to clarify. And when you talked about Judy Smith, of course, Judy Smith, the TV show "Scandal" is based on what she does. She's a crisis manager so they've hired now, the real-life Judy Smith to help --

MARTIN: One of the top in the business.

O'BRIEN: That's amazing. All right, Jason Lanning is with our affiliate Bay-9 News outside the Kelley home in Tampa, Florida. Thank you, Jason. We appreciate the update.

Ahead this morning, we'll talk to a man whose political career was brought down by a sex scandal of his own. The former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey will chat with us a little bit about that. That's straight ahead. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We've been following these pretty dramatic developments this morning in the Petraeus sex scandal. The man who took over for General Petraeus, General John Allen is now under scrutiny as well.

There are sources that investigators are going through between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of potentially inappropriate documents between General Allen and Jill Kelley. Jill Kelley is also linked to the Petraeus scandal.

Jim McGreevey certainly dealt with a similar situation. The former New Jersey governor, you might remember, he gave an unforgettable speech in 2004. That was his wife, standing by his side, where he resigned from office.

And then he announced he was a gay American, quite a bombshell at the time. It's nice to have you with us. We appreciate it.


O'BRIEN: Let's dig a little deeper into sort of the anatomy of a scandal. I'm kind of two minds. We've been chatting about it in all the commercial breaks. Is it a sex scandal and do we care because it's salacious and interesting details? Is it important because national security is at risk? I mean, you know, I'm kind of two minds at this. If it's just the relationship between the two of them I'm not sure I care.

MCGREEVEY: Soledad, for me, you grapple with your individual person so where you are at that moment in time in your office and then there's, obviously, legal and governmental concerns.

The responsibilities that the government has to discharge for which you are responsible and then, of course, there are familial concerns. All three come in at different parts, stronger or weaker but those three aspects are there.

O'BRIEN; So are you thinking I've got to protect my family or are you thinking listen, I'm a powerful legislature and I need to think about my career, which at the moment was in sham -- what was your mind-set?

MCGREEVEY: Well, at that moment in time, I think I had come to peace with myself and my God and I understood that I'm letting this go. I'm going to try to do the next right thing.

And obviously having been in the closet for so many years, I recognized that was an unhealthy place. So, in a sense for me, it was actually freeing to claim one's own truth.

And I think the painful thing that we see in this scandal unfolding is that the general has a family, has a wife.

O'BRIEN: The Kelleys have a family.


O'BRIEN: The Broadwells have a family.

MARTIN: It's also important to note that you were involved with someone you appointed to a position. So that's someone who is under your authority.


MARTIN: When it comes to Petraeus, here is someone who was writing a book. She was privy to sensitive information. She knew the whereabouts of the head of the CIA, which is closely guarded. I think this goes far beyond, well, there might have been an affair.

Now you have so many other pieces because she's talked publicly about the CIA operating a secret prison in Benghazi. So she's sharing details publicly that I'm sure the government is saying, wait a minute. We need to know what this woman knows.

MCGREEVEY: I'm sure there will be plenty of people to cast stones and those stones will be thrown. It's not just when you look at General Petraeus and General Allen, these are exceptional men and that clearly there were inappropriate or seemingly was an inappropriate relationship. If you look back to history, great generals during the course of World War Ii, there were allegations that some of the greatest generals in the pantheon --

O'BRIEN: It's not a shocker.

MCGREEVEY: It's not a shocker. And so it's -- when you look at General Petraeus and General Allen, these are men that the nation needs. So, yes, we need to make sure that military secrets -- that the CIA was preserved and protected, but we also need to understand the human dimension.

O'BRIEN: What are you doing now? Obviously, we talk about like what does Petraeus do next? People talked about him running for president one day. That certainly seems off the table for now. What do you do now?

MCGREEVEY: I work with women in jail and in prison. It's interesting, Soledad, when you talk about people rebuilding their lives. These are women that are victims of sexual violence, physical violence that grew up in Camden or the hard streets of New York City.

We try to teach them a new value system. We talk about jobs, living arrangements and unifying with their families. One out of every 99 Americans is in jail. We have more people in prison than any nation in the world. When you talk about reclaiming souls, second chances, God willing, America could do a little better with this.

O'BRIEN: Jim McGreevey, it's nice to have you with us.

MCGREEVEY: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: He is the former governor of New Jersey. Got to take a break. We're back in just a moment.