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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Gen. John Allen Investigated; Interview with Congressman Tom Price of Georgia; Manhunt For John McAfee; Gen. John Allen Investigated; Petraeus Scandal Deepens; The Brilliance Of Thomas Jefferson; The Human Factor: Astronaut Goes Into Space With Parkinson's Disease
Aired November 13, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody.
Our STARTING POINT this morning, some new developing news to get to, as the bombshell Petraeus scandal is really getting to another general, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, who's General John Allen. He is now being investigated for his relationship, his relationship with a woman who sparked the original probe into General Petraeus.
Plus, the feds pay a visit to the woman that Petraeus had an affair with, Paula Broadwell.
And another twist, an FBI agent who's investigating the entire situation could be in trouble himself for his own alleged misconduct.
We'll explain it all for you straight ahead this morning and take a look at just how deep this goes.
We have correspondents this morning at the Pentagon, and at the White House and in Beirut as well -- a packed show.
We're going to be talking to Georgia Congressman Tom Price. He chairs the House Republican Policy Committee.
Florida congresswoman and DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is back with us.
And the author of the new book, Jon Meacham. A new book about Thomas Jefferson. He's going to join us as well.
It's Tuesday, November 13th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning, talking about the breaking news, Suzy Welch, columnist and bestselling author; Roland Martin, the host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin"; "EARLY START" co-host John Berman with as well.
We are, of course, talking about some breaking news. New information about the top allied commander who's now been dragged into the scandal that forced the CIA Director David Petraeus to resign.
It gets very complicated. So stay with me.
The new general in this case is General John Allen. You might remember that he took over for General Petraeus in Afghanistan. Now, he is under investigation for alleged inappropriate communications with a woman named Jill Kelley.
Pentagon officials found evidence that General Allen had exchanged thousands of pages of documents, inappropriate e-mails -- inappropriate communications is what they're calling it -- with Ms. Kelley. Ms. Kelley has been described as a Petraeus family friend.
Apparently, at the very beginning of all this, Ms. Kelley, she's on the right of your screen there, she unwittingly exposed the Petraeus affair with Paula Broadwell. That's the woman on the left after she went to the FBI to complain about those anonymous, threatening e- mails, turned out to be from Paula Broadwell.
Meantime, the FBI -- "The Wall Street Journal", rather, is reporting that the FBI agent who launched the initial Petraeus investigation when Ms. Kelley went to him to complain about those e-mails, he's now under investigation, too. Why? Apparently, he sent a shirtless picture of himself, or at least one -- maybe more -- to Jill Kelley. That would be the woman there on the left side of your screen now, who kicked off all of this with those complaints about inappropriate e- mails that she was getting.
Paula Broadwell wasn't home but the FBI paid a visit to her home in North Carolina overnight. A team of agents was searching her residence, there for nearly five hours. They were seen leaving with boxes and duffel bags full of potential evidence.
Lots to get to this morning.
Chris Lawrence is at the Pentagon for us. Brianna Keilar is at the White House.
Chris, why don't you start on this with us about General Allen? To me, 30,000 pages of documents is a shocking amount of back and forth between a high-ranking general and a woman who is, in essence, a party planner. True?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, you're talking about someone who was running U.S. Central Command and then running the war in Afghanistan. I mean, you're talking dozens of pages of e-mails every day for the better part of two or three years. Defense sources say that these e-mails began in 2010 and just ended this year.
Here is the physical connection. General John Allen was based at U.S. Central Command in Tampa. That's where Jill Kelley lives. He then left for Afghanistan to take over the war effort from David Petraeus.
He was just 48 hours away from starting his confirmation hearings to become the head of NATO. Now, the Pentagon has asked that hearing to be put on hold. But, right now, the Pentagon is saying they're standing behind General Allen as the commander in Afghanistan for now.
O'BRIEN: So then, let me ask you another question, which is -- what are the implications of all of this? I know one of the areas they're investigating is a comment that Paula Broadwell made while she was giving a speech on October 26th. And in that speech, she talked about whether Libyans were being held at the CIA or by the CIA in Benghazi and potentially some of the attacks on Benghazi could have been connected or correlated to the holding of Libyans.
Now, there has been word that that is -- according to multiple sources -- that that's not true. I know it was report that was almost mentioned on FOX, I believe.
So, how does that connect to all of this, do you think?
LAWRENCE: Well, it raised questions for people wondering if she had access to, you know, certain classified information that was out there, divulging it when perhaps she shouldn't have been. But again, intelligence officials have told us that that's categorically untrue, that there were no prisoners at the annex in Libya. And again, there were news reports that she could have got this from and it also calls into question the revelation of General Allen, who knew what when.
In other words, you know, people have been saying, well, the White House knew all these details for months and months. But why would the White House then allow the Pentagon to put Allen up for the head of NATO, why would President Obama release a statement praising him and formally nominating him for the head of NATO, why would they schedule all these meetings and then have it fall apart at the last minute?
I'm not saying that the White House didn't have some knowledge of this, but it does raise the question that perhaps the administration did not know everything that was going on in this investigation.
O'BRIEN: There are so many whys on this case at the moment when it seems to be on its face a sex scandal. But a lot of just really complicated and conflicting information in this.
Chris Lawrence for us this morning -- thank you, Chris.
Let's turn to some of those whys and go right to D.C., as we mentioned, confirmation hearing on General Allen's pending nomination to command the U.S. European Command and NATO forces in Europe is now delayed because of the scandal.
White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us with more on that. You heard a moment Chris lay out all those whys that we do not know. If the White House knew everything, it does seem odd that they would so aggressively be behind General Allen and now have it sort of explode on them, even though I have to reiterate he has claimed no wrongdoing on this so far.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. And it makes you wonder if this detail about General Allen came somewhat behind the information about General Petraeus, because, Soledad, we understand, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, that General Allen is here in the U.S., ahead of what was to be his confirmation hearing on Thursday.
A statement coming out from the White House, the first reaction that we've had since we've learned the new details involving General Allen, a spokesperson for the National Security Council saying that at the request of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, President Obama has put that hearing on hold and they are urging that General Joseph Dunford, his confirmation move forward quickly, because General Allen is in charge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as you know. He was already set to be succeeded by General Dunford, whose confirmation hearing also set for Thursday. It is going to proceed.
It is somewhat of a critical time, President Obama figuring out with those remaining 68,000 American combat troops in Afghanistan how to really structure the timeline to bring them out by the end of 2014 as previously planned. So having a structure, military structure in place there and having continuity, very important, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: That's right.
Brianna Keilar for us -- thank you, Brianna. Appreciate that.
I want to turn right now to Congressman Tom Price. He's a Republican from Georgia, currently running for the chair of the House Republican Conference, which will be the fourth highest position among Republicans.
It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us.
REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: Hi, Soledad. Thank you.
O'BRIEN: What do you think of this? I mean, all of it, and it's all complicating little winding tentacles that seem to be expanding every minute. What do you think?
PRICE: Well, I think you asked the right question, there's a lot of whys out there. And Congress', one of Congress' role is oversight. There will be oversight hearings this week.
But the real question is about this administration. Why the opaqueness? Why not the transparency? What did they know, when did they know it and why was it communicated? As Senator Feinstein said over the weekend, she didn't even know what the White House knew as it related to General Petraeus. So, there are real questions that need to be answered, this administration and these individuals need to answer questions about whether or not there was any compromise in American intelligence or security.
O'BRIEN: Do you think General Petraeus should have resigned? We've been having this debate kind of all in the commercial breaks all morning.
You know, here you have a guy who is very experienced. I think there are people on both sides of the aisle who would say that they are huge fans of General Petraeus and think that he has done a good job, you lose a lot of experience with his resignation.
And if it is, as it seems to be -- although it's getting more complicated every minute, if it's a sex scandal at the end of the day, I guarantee you, I'm willing to put money on this, he is not the first general to have some kind of affair with a younger, you know, colleague in some capacity. Do you think he should have resigned?
PRICE: Well, I think his statement was that if he had violated the trust in the manner that he did, how could he then enforce the rules for individuals that were serving under him? So, not for me to decide that.
But, look, this points out human frailty -- humans often times come up short. And it's just so very sad -- sad for General Petraeus, sad for his family. But we need to -- we need to dust ourselves off, make certain that American security and American intelligence weren't compromised and then get back to the hard work of serving the American people.
O'BRIEN: I agree with you on that. It is sad because there are a lot of kids involved. This is a big, giant mess.
We mentioned you're up for the chair of the House Republican Conference. Are you interested in that gig?
PRICE: Well, these are decisions that are made by our conference, by the new Congress, 113th. We're so excited. This is orientation week here in Washington for the new freshmen who --
O'BRIEN: Is that a yes or no, sir?
PRICE: Absolutely. We're raring to go, because we've got positive solutions. The House Republicans Conference over the past two years have put forward positive solutions based on fundamental principles for all the challenges that we faced. We've sent them over the Senate. They've languished over in there.
So, we urged the president to call Harry Reid and asked him to at least address the issues that we put solutions on the table for.
O'BRIEN: It's nice to have you with us, Congressman Price, with us.
PRICE: Thanks so much. O'BRIEN: John Berman has got a look at the day's top stories, more happening that's not a scandal in the U.S. military --
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: There is news out there that's not a scandal, believe it or not. A little bit.
"The Washington Post" is reporting President Obama is preparing to make a major cabinet shuffle. It says the president is considering Democratic Senator John Kerry to serve as his next secretary of defense, and that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador of the United Nations, would take over for outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Cold and fed up, thousands now are entering week three without power after superstorm Sandy. And the hard-hit Rockaways and Queens are marking a grim anniversary, the crash of Flight 587 two months after September 11th, 2001. They're doing that while dealing with this ongoing disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARTHUR PAMINTUAN, BELLE HARBOR RESIDENT: I'm a survivor. I used to work in Saudi Arabia until the war broke out. And then I went home. I went back to the old country, I'm from the Philippines.
And then Mt. Pinatubo erupted. I survived that. I'm a survivor. This doesn't bother me. And then the plane crash over here across the street two months after September 11th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Meantime, New York City has now okayed $500 million to repair schools and hospitals.
Authorities in Indianapolis still don't know what caused that explosion that leveled the neighborhood over the weekend. Dramatic new pictures show the extent of the devastation. Two people were killed and seven others injured in that blast.
All right. It's not a secret that President Obama is a Beyonce fan. Well, check out this video -- a video just posted by a couple on YouTube at the time the president asked to hear the story about how they got engaged. This happened while the president was making a stop at one of his campaign offices way back in August.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just got engaged yesterday.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ad it was someone who works in analytics --
OBAMA: So, I'm responsible?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're responsible. We met at the -- OBAMA: Where is the guy? Where is he?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's probably over there in analytics.
OBAMA: What's his name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Matt Danny (ph).
OBAMA: Matt? Where's Matt? Matt, come on over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really need to take care of this.
OBAMA: You got to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm stressing here a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like put a ring on it.
OBAMA: Put ring on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: All the single ladies.
BERMAN: Why didn't the video come out before? That was actually pretty funny.
MARTIN: A lot of campaigns want to keep personal.
BERMAN: I guess that's fair.
SUZY WELCH, AUTHOR: That hand gesture, everybody in America would recognize.
BERMAN: All the single ladies. Put a ring on it, baby.
O'BRIEN: That was funny.
All right. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT: you might not know him but you probably have his software on your PC somewhere, John McAfee. Remember he was famous for that antivirus program that everybody has. Well, now, he is wanted in question for the murder of his neighbor. We're going to talk to someone who knows him well. That's coming up next.
O'BRIEN: A manhunt is under way this morning for cyber security pioneer, John McAfee. Authorities at Belize are searching for him in connection with the murder of his neighbor and fellow (INAUDIBLE), Gregory Fall (ph). McAfee is 67 years old. He founded the anti-virus software company which was named after him back in 1987. 2008, he moved to Brazil where those close to him say he started to show some erratic behavior. He's been arrested twice before in 2009 for weapons possession, again, in April of this year for unlicensed drug manufacturing.
Jeff Wise is a science technology and psychology columnist. He's known John McAfee for awhile, last five years, written a lot about him for the technology website, Gizmodo. Nice to have you with us.
JEFF WISE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & PSYCHOLOGY COLUMNIST: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: So, how did you meet him and when?
WISE: Well, I originally met him back in 2007. I travelled to his ranch in New Mexico. At the time, he was trying to introduce a new sport to Americans.
He thought that it would be great if everyone embraced the past-time that heat (ph) invented called arrow tracking, which involved making tiny aircraft and find them over the desert at very low altitude like 10 feet off the ground and like buzzing over (INAUDIBLE).
And he thought this would be a great idea. And so, I write a lot about adventure and aviation. And so, I went and I tried this. And it was a lot of fun.
O'BRIEN: How did he seem to you, though? Because, you know, he had left McAfee software.
WISE: Right. By this point, he'd been sort of wealthy, you know, man of leisure for 15 years or so. And he's just been doing whatever he wanted. He was traveling around the world. He did long distance jet ski trips and he would sink his jet skis and he would do these ATVs cross country and crash his ATVs.
O'BRIEN: But fun --
O'BRIEN: -- adventurer or crazy adventurer? Because there's a difference.
WISE: Well, you know, different people have different thresholds for crazy. But, I personally found it really fun. I thought he was --
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, EDITOR, THOMPSON REUTERS DIGITAL: But somewhere along the line, he stepped over into some kind of dealings with drugs, right? I mean, isn't that where he went off the track from fun to sort of danger?
WISE: I've been writing about him for five years. I have to say, I frankly started out really liking him, really admiring him. He's a larger than life, very charismatic person.
O'BRIEN: But? WISE: But as time went by, I realized that there was a darker side to him. He's a person who's very adept at presenting a facade. And it took me years to slowly piece together. People would come forward to me after I wrote an article and say you should know about this, comments sections, of stories, company article in 2010, Gizmodo article last week.
People came forward and said look at this. And I notice, sure enough, that his facade seemed to crumble.
O'BRIEN: Do you think he killed this guy? It's a neighbor. Apparently, there was a dispute over -- I mean, has it crumbled to the point of they believe he may have killed his neighbor. Do you think he's on that?
WISE: I'll put it this way. Listen, we're all innocent until proven guilty. The people in his community were frightened of him. I was frightened -- last time I visited him, he welcomed me warmly into his home. He's invited me to spend the night at his house, stay for dinner, whatever. The hairs on the back of my neck were up. He's scary.
O'BRIEN: He sold McAfee for like $ 7 billion, almost $8 billion. So, was he still a gajillionaire or did he not -- you know, was he running out of money? Because that makes a lot of difference in how long you can hide and release for it.
WISE: (INAUDIBLE) something like -- I don't know the figure. He did not own it by that point. When he sold out, he got about $100 million. He's often called the billionaire. He's not technically. He's a very rich guy, granted, but, yes, he has resources presumably to do what he wants.
O'BRIEN: Wow. It's an interesting story. Jeff Wise, I have the feeling we are not anywhere near the end of that story with this guy, huh? Thanks for talking with us about it.
O'BRIEN: This is sort of the morning of crazy, huh?
Still ahead on STARTING POINT, we're going to get back to the story of Jill Kelley, there she is in that picture. She is the woman who triggered the investigation that ended up uncovering the Petraeus affair. We got a report straight ahead on that and much more. We'll be back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: The FBI probe that uncovered General Petraeus' affair with his biographer stemmed from alleged harassing e-mails that's the biographer sent, apparently, to another woman. Now, we know who that other woman is. It's this woman right here. Her name is Jill Kelley. She's 37 years old. She's said to be close friends with Gen. Petraeus. Jason Lanning is with our affiliate, Bay News 9, and he's in Tampa this morning, outside the Kelley home. Tell us a little bit more about Miss Kelley.
JASON LANNING, REPORTER, BAY NEWS 9: Well, we know Jill Kelley hosted a number of military parties at her home, Soledad, here in Tampa. You can see that home now. Things have been quiet. The family keeping a very low profile, but it is at this home where this whole scandal with General David Petraeus began, possibly back in 2011.
We want to show you a picture of 37-year-old Jill Kelley. She's known here in Tampa as a volunteer and social liaison for the MacDill Air Force Base. That's where David Petraeus once served as commander. 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, we know, served as deputy commander and, for a short time, temporary commander at U.S. central command here in Tampa. That was from 2010 to 2012. We also know Jill Kelley had a social relationship and a friendship with General Petraeus.
We don't know what of any kind of relationship Kelley may have had with Allen when he served here in Tampa. We have learned, though, this morning, Soledad, Jill Kelley has hired an attorney, Abbe Lowell (ph) to represent her. If you know Aib Lowell (ph), you know, he used to represent President Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Jack Abramoff.
The family has also brought in Judy Smith as a crisis manager. Smith used to work as a crisis manager for Monica Lewinsky. Now, we don't know if these heavy hitters that have brought in -- been brought in to represent the family can tell us anything about what's contained in those 20,000 to 30,000 documents, but obviously, outside of the family's home here in Tampa, a lot of questions continuing to mount -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: And the only think I'll only add to that is, I think, it's 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, which is, I guess, a difference -- teeny tiny difference. That's a whole bunch of pages of documents. Jason, thank you very much for the update. We certainly appreciate it.
Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, we're going to talk to the DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She'll weight in on this scandal.
And also, another second-term headache for the president, the fiscal cliff.
And also, return of the Jedi. A navy reservist surprises little boy. Take a look at this. How cute is this? Wait till the big reveal. It's awesome. We're back in just a moment.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT.
The Pentagon is now investigating General John Allen. That is our breaking news this morning. He, of course, is the top commander in Afghanistan. His investigation surrounds the David Petraeus sex scandal. General Allen allegedly had inappropriate communications, which we're not exactly sure specifically what that means.
But the woman involved in that is Jill Kelley. As many as 30,000 pages of documents are at the center of that inappropriate communications. Miss Kelley is the Florida woman, you might remember, who triggered the initial Petraeus FBI investigation after she received anonymous, threatening e-mails from a woman who turned out to be General Petraeus' mistress, Paula Broadwell.
I feel like I could use a chart to really spell this out for everybody. So over night the FBI conducted a five-hour search of Miss Broadwell's home. They're calling it consensual search, leaving with boxes and duffel bags full of material.
CNN's Chris Lawrence is at the Pentagon for us with more this morning.
Any idea, Chris, what they were taking out of that home?
LAWRENCE: No, Soledad. Not just yet. I mean they have already looked at her computer. Paula Broadwell showed the FBI what was on her computer. And so we believe this was probably a consensual search as well with Paula Broadwell essentially probably just saying you can come in and take a look at whatever you want to.
O'BRIEN: How big of an impact is this -- sort of the web, I guess, if that's the right word to use, expanding to include General Allen who, I should say, has said -- you know, said there's no wrongdoing on his part in all of this?
LAWRENCE: It's huge. And remember, from what we know about those e- mails between Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley, there were generals -- plural -- involved. So this may just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of other people who may be involved. But General Allen was just 48 hours away from a Senate confirmation hearing to perhaps become the head of NATO. That has now been postponed.
And right now the Pentagon is saying they're still going to stand by him in Afghanistan in terms of allowing him to keep that position for now.
Here is what Secretary Leon Panetta said, releasing a statement saying, "While this matter is under investigation and before the facts are determined, General Allen will remain commander of ISAF. The secretary has asked the president and the president has agreed to put his nomination on hold until the relevant facts are determined."
So, in other words, he'll keep the job, but they still want his replacement to get pushed through the Senate to relieve him of that command in Afghanistan as soon as possible. O'BRIEN: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon for us this morning. Thank you, Chris.
O'BRIEN: Let's get right to John for a look at other stories making news.
BERMAN: Thanks so much, Soledad.
Now the news about Afghan commander, John Allen, obviously not the kind of distraction Defense Secretary Leon Panetta needs as he prepares to meet with defense ministers in Asia and Australia.
As Chris just said, in a statement, Panetta says General Allen will remain as commander in Afghanistan while alleged inappropriate communications with Jill Kelley are being investigated. And as we mentioned his nomination to be Supreme -- Allied Commander in NATO in Europe, that is on hold.
Meanwhile, politics takes an ugly turn just southeast of Phoenix. Police say an Arizona woman ran over her husband because he didn't vote in the presidential election. Witnesses called 911 saying -- this is what they said. They says they were watching 28-year-old Holly Solam in her SUV Saturday at first weaving around her husband, then just flat-out hitting him. He ended up pinned under the SUV in a curve. He's in critical condition. She's in jail on aggravated assault charges.
O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, wait a minute. So many more questions. It's like, who were they voting for? I mean what position.
MARTIN: Doesn't matter.
BERMAN: He didn't vote at all. He wasn't even split ticket issues.
MARTIN: Vote, doggone it. What, Holly?
WELCH: I was out vote.
WELCH: This one is not about --
BERMAN: You're going out on the limb with that.
BERMAN: All right.
MARTIN: I guess that slogan vote or die really said volumes to holly, huh?
BERMAN: All right. Moving on now. UPS joining Intel announcing that it will no longer give money to the Boy Scouts of America as long as the group discriminates against gays. This move comes after more than 80,000 people sign an online petition, protesting annual grants to Boy Scouts. The UPS foundation, a company charitable arm,. gave more than $85,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2011, according to its federal tax return.
This story I love. I am your father. An extremely touching video on YouTube. The little boy in Wichita, Kansas, thought he was having a light saber battle with his cousin at his 5th birthday party but it was really his Navy reservist father dressed as Darth Vader. He was returning home from training in California. As can you see, the son had no idea that his father was home. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get him, Aidan. Oop. You got him. You got him. Really good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: I just love those videos. Very nice. Darth Vader turned out to be a good guy.
O'BRIEN: That is so cute. That is so sweet. Love that. Kind of takes us away for a moment. We're all teary eyed about that, I love that. I could watch hours of that every single day.
MARTIN: Mom and dad voted.
O'BRIEN: It kind of -- kind of takes our mind off our top story this morning, which is the craziness, apparently, in the U.S. military.
General John Allen, the top man in Afghanistan, is now also being investigated in this expanding sex scandal that originally involved David Petraeus.
Let's get right to Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
I know, sorry for the introduction.
O'BRIEN: But we've got to dive right into this. She, of course, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and usually we're talking politics. And I guess this is starting to involve politics.
But let's talk first about your reaction as this expands to include General Allen. What do you make of this? He has claimed no wrongdoing, I should add.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: I mean it's just -- I mean, disturbing is the word that has come to my mind since all of this has come to light. Really, I think it goes without saying that if you're the director of the CIA, if you are a, you know, four-star general in the United States army that you have to hold yourself to a higher standard. And you can't put yourself in a compromising position. And, you know, I realize that there's a lot of back and forth over whether or not these are, you know, personal allegations and personal relationships.
But the fact is that if you're in a position like the two of them are, the possibility of being compromised is there. And, you know, it's just something that is disturbing and requires much more significant, further investigation.
MARTIN: We've heard this from several polls. When should Congress be told certain things? Because when you have investigations, let's be honest, Congress doesn't hold many secrets very well. Stuff gets out real quick, especially for political purposes. But when should the FBI do what they're supposed to do and then go to congressional leaders?
Because people are saying White House should have known, Congress should have been told immediately.
O'BRIEN: Well, let's talk a little bit of what Congressman Tom Price, who spoke to earlier today, said about that. And we'll have you answer the question on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM PRICE (R) GEORGIA: The real question is about this administration, why the -- why the opaqueness, what did they know, when did they know it? Why wasn't it communicated from this administration? And these individuals need to answer the questions about whether or not there was any compromise in American intelligence or security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: Well, I think so far it's been clear that there hasn't been any compromise and that that's why they didn't move it up. But 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.
MARTIN: That's actual protocol that --
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: It is.
MARTIN: That is a leader such as Petraeus is under investigation, the intelligence head in the House and Senate are notified ?
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: And there is -- is always a push me, pull you on when that notification occurs. Those congressional intelligence leaders are in a constant battle. I used to sit on the select intelligence oversight panel and the appropriations committee. And there is a constraint. Now it's not the rank and file intelligence members but the leadership.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: The big four are supposed to be notified. And --
O'BRIEN: How about the White House in this, right? I mean Congressman Price's point is that -- and I think a lot of people, Chris Lawrence from the Pentagon, also has said why is the president forward with a lot of fanfare, I think, General Allen if in fact all of this is going to be revealed? It doesn't make a lot of sense. So either they don't care or they didn't know.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: No, I mean, at least thus far what it appears is that they didn't know. I mean, there was -- there seems to have been -- and that's why an investigation has to be done. A thorough and clear investigation. We shouldn't bring politics in it.
This seems to have is purely about protecting the United States' interests, protecting Americans and making sure that American interests are not compromised. You know, the what did he know and when did he know it? That smacks of politics. We have to come together, make sure there's no question it should be investigated. It is going to be investigated like the defense secretary said.
Intelligence, congressional leaders should have been notified sooner. But let's not have this spiral downward into something that, you know, just becomes more politics. We just came off an election --
O'BRIEN: I think there's a steady growth. I got to tell you, I mean I just -- there are so many weird things. The FBI, taking stuff out of her house.
O'BRIEN: The 20,000 to 30,000 pages of -- look, there's a lot of weirdness that isn't just random sex scandal.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: That's comes out like 40 -- someone said that comes up about 41 e-mails a day? Thirty.
O'BRIEN: It's a lot. Can I ask --
O'BRIEN: Can I ask you about fiscal job before we lose her.
Let me ask you about the fiscal cliff and then you guys can jump in on that. So here -- Grover Norquist was on our show the other day. And I'm going to play a little choke of what he told us, and then we'll talk on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: We're in exactly the same position we were two years ago. President Obama said the economy is doing so poorly we can't raise taxes now. The economy is doing as poorly now as it was two years ago. And to raise taxes now would hurt the entire economy and last -- two years ago, they extended all of the tax cuts for two years, they should consider doing exactly the same thing and focus on the problem they created which is too much spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: So do you see yourself as a bridge builder in Congress? Are you going to say yes? Let's cut spending and in exchange for cutting spending, we've got to raises. Because when we talk to Jason Chaffetz he sure is like doesn't tell if he's going to raise anybody's taxes.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: There's no -- I absolutely consider myself as a member of Congress as a bridge builder. In spite of the fact that I'm the head of the Democratic National Committee there's no -- clearly Grover Norquist didn't get the memo of Tuesday's election. I mean President Obama spent 18 months campaigning on the idea that we needed balance. We have to deal with deficit reduction.
But the number one thing we have to deal with is creating jobs and turning the economy around. When Grover Norquist says that we extended those Bush tax cuts two years ago, it was because of Republican intransigents. They were ready to shut the government down.
O'BRIEN: We would all say the House wasn't re-elect -- I mean for the most part, right, the House is still run by Republicans.
O'BRIEN: And it's not like Governor Romney got 20 percent of the vote. He got, what, 49 percent of the vote?
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: The margins are closer -- the Republican mantra of, you know, lower taxes, don't raise taxes under any circumstances, that we should lower the rates and close unspecified loopholes, that notion, that notion lost. What won on Tuesday --
O'BRIEN: By this much.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: No, no, no, not so much by this much.
MARTIN: When you lose, you lose.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: The president won with 332 electoral votes, he won by more than three million votes across the country.
O'BRIEN: Right. But half the nation didn't agree with him. I mean, with all due respect, right? And I get it. The president won, he won.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: Fifty-five members of the United States Senate -- it was a close election, but it was very clear. Two paths, two visions.
WELCH: It's not going to put a dent in the deficit, even if you raise the taxes. Even if that --
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: We have to make spending cuts.
WELCH: Even if you closes -- there has to be spending cuts.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: There's no question. I voted -- just to give you an example. I voted last summer for the debt ceiling deal that included $1.5 trillion dollars in deficit reduction and spending cuts, which included, as many Democrats did also, cuts that I've spent my career opposing. And then I had to go home and defend those cuts to my liberal district because I know you -- it can't be my way or the highway. But if Tom Price and Jason Chaffetz, both of whom I get along really well with, don't understand that the balanced approach won last Tuesday, then we are in for a real problem.
O'BRIEN: Congressman -- Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, joining us this morning. I always mangled your name and your title -- almost every single time.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: That's why I tell people just vote for the longest name on the ballot.
O'BRIEN: I am going to apologize for that.
O'BRIEN: Until the end of this year. Nice to have you with us. It's always great to have you in person.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Much more appreciated.
MARTIN: Middle name and (INAUDIBLE).
O'BRIEN: That's right. Come on, you must have more name?
O'BRIEN: You've got a lot of Latinos in your area.
MARTIN: Debbie, Deb, Congresswoman Debbie Beth Wasserman Schultz.
WASSERMAN-SHULTZ: Deborah. It's even longer.
O'BRIEN: There we go.
MARTIN: There we go.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, he is one of our most revered founding fathers, more than 200 years later. A new book takes a very close look at Thomas Jefferson, the politician and what today's leaders could learn from him, that's coming up next.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Stop talking about Jefferson, everybody because we're going to introduce our next guest. Thomas Jefferson, of course, one of our most revered founding fathers, the author of the "Declaration of Independence" and the third president of the United States.
In recent years, though, some of the more salacious details of his life captured the attention of biographers. There's a new book out. It's called "Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power." It takes a very careful look at Jefferson, the politician.
The author is Jon Meacham. It's nice to have you back with us. It's always a pleasure.
JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR, "THOMAS JEFFERSON, THE ART OF POWER": Thank you, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: You really dig into Thomas Jefferson, the politician. You approach it very differently than I think past biographers have. Why this direction?
MEACHAM: Because one of my many character flaws is I like politicians.
O'BRIEN: I'm so sorry, sir.
MEACHAM: I know.
MARTIN: You need help.
MEACHAM: It keeps us all not missing any meals particularly this week. And until we find a better way to run our lives and do it collectively, I think we have to know as much as we possibly can about people who are engaged in political work.
O'BRIEN: How would you describe Thomas Jefferson in ways that -- you say he's a seducer?
MEACHAM: My gosh, yes, he was a terrific retail politician, wonderful eyes. Women tended to swoon for him. He did not, however, have any e-mails -- he might have, had he had the opportunity.
He was able to make people fall in love with him without knowing quite why. One of the things that he was so good at, he was a brilliant writer and he was an architect of really the politics of op optimism. Reagan, Clinton, hope and change themes of 2008 are part of the Jefferson tradition of projecting hope, optimism, tomorrow will be better than today.
O'BRIEN: I look at today from the hostile e-mails I got from our last segment and tweets and think we're really divide as a nation from the last election, 49-51, but it was 48-51. Was it as bad then?
MEACHAM: Well, it took Thomas Jefferson 36 ballots in the House after the election of 1800 to become president.
O'BRIEN: Thirty six?
MEACHAM: Thirty six. He governed in intensely partisan atmosphere. There were ads in newspapers in New England saying you could have God and John Adams or Jefferson and no God. I mean, this was -- the culture wars were very much with us from the very beginning. And what I think is so interesting about him, he managed to transcend them and get just enough done.
BERMAN: When he was the vice president just abandoned the president.
MEACHAM: Well, he ran against him, yes.
MEACHAM: That was a tough moment. Now the system was different then. If you came in second you became vice president. So imagine the Obama/Romney administration if so in that sense.
But, you know, he and John Adams were the great frenemies in American life. You know, they were very warm and as younger men, they fell apart -- fell out over politics in the 1790s and came back together again.
It's actually an interesting tale of redemption in many ways because they fundamentally disagreed about the most important things about the country, but they admired each other in the sense that they were both fighting in a cause.
O'BRIEN: Can we ask about Sally Hemmings? You write this, slavery was a real subject where Jefferson sense of realism kept him from marshaling his sense of hope in the service of cause of reform.
So on one hand, big reformer, you know, and you talked about optimism. On the other hand, his actual life completely contradicted that.
O'BRIEN: And people describe Sally that she was in love with him. And others have said that was completely untrue, that she was a slave and in a position that she was going to do whatever it took to survive. There's a range of theories on that. Why was he like that when he so seemed to be for everything -- against everything that slavery stood for?
MEACHAM: Because he was a human being.
O'BRIEN: Right. MEACHAM: And he was fundamentally flawed and could not imagine a world -- could not imagine his world without slavery. As a young man, he tried four or five times in law and in politics to reform the institution and failed decisively and publicly each time.
Every politician I know dislikes two things, failing decisively and failing publicly. It's my argument that he was quintessentially a political creature because he gave up on reforming a system that.
As a young man -- he died in 1725 instead of 1826 he would be a source of wonderful quotations about the emancipation and the two great original sins of American life, slavery and the removal of Native Americans.
MARTIN: They were perfect, wonderful individuals that we need to say, no. There's a mirror here that they should own up to the aspect as well.
MEACHAM: That is totally so important. They were men before they were monuments. And if we put them on a pedestal, I think it forecloses their capacity to teach and it keeps us from being able to learn as much from them.
O'BRIEN: The mirror is right here.
MEACHAM: If flawed people can do the good he did, then maybe we can, too.
O'BRIEN: Jon Meacham, the book is called "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power." It's so great to have you with us. We certainly appreciate it. It's great to see you.
MEACHAM: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Got to take a break. STARTING POINT is back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Here is an incredible story of overcoming odds. After two missions into space, Astronaut Rich Clifford was diagnosed with a debilitating degenerative brain disease.
This week's "Human Factor," CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us even that didn't stop him from flying.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For most of us, this view was the closest we'll ever get to outer-space. But it's also the view that Astronaut Rich Clifford has had three times, when he blasted into space aboard space shuttle "Discovery" in 1992, on "Endeavour" in 1994 and "Atlantis" in 1996.
As he flew his last shuttle mission on his way to space station, Clifford was carrying a secret. He had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
RICH CLIFFORD, ASTRONAUT: I didn't really have any symptoms of it other than my right arm didn't swing naturally when I walked.
GUPTA: When he told his doctor that his arm was affecting his rocket ball game he was immediately sent to a neurologist.
CLIFFORD: He looked at me for 5 minutes and said you have Parkinson's disease.
GUPTA: His bosses at NASA asked him what he wanted to do.
CLIFFORD: I said I wanted to fly again.
GUPTA: NASA doctors eventually cleared him and nine months later, Clifford was heading back into space aboard "Atlantis." Only the shuttle commander knew.
CLIFFORD: I was certificated to fly and that was good enough for them.
GUPTA: And with that flight came once in a lifetime opportunity, six- hour spacewalk.
CLIFFORD: Definitely fantastic. Doing a spacewalk is a privilege and something every astronaut searches for.
GUPTA: For years the stiffness in his arm was the only symptom then three years ago, the trembling began followed by head bobbing. His neurologist tried to convince Clifford to go publicly with the story many times. Last year, 17 years after being diagnosed, he finally did.
CLIFFORD: I got diagnosed with Parkinson's when I was 42 years old. Got to keep focused on what it is you want to do in life and proceed down that path. Nothing should hold you back.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
O'BRIEN: "End Point" is up next. Stay with us.
O'BRIEN: And we are out of time. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. Good morning, Carol.