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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Obama Ready To Rumble; Petraeus Mistress Loses Security Clearance; Petraeus Whistleblower Identified; Romney Blames Loss On Obama "Gifts"; Obama to Visit Storm-Damaged Staten Island; Interview with Congressman Peter King of New York; Israel Launches Strikes In Gaza; Judge Who Ordered "Idiot" Sign Speaks

Aired November 15, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, a blistering assault under way right now in Gaza.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Fighting words from President Obama sticking up for one of his own in the face of critics.

SAMBOLIN: And paying the price, BP reportedly closer to a plea deal over the Gulf oil spill that could cost the oil giant a billion dollars.

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It's about 6:00 a.m. in the East. We're going to go live to Gaza for that breaking news in a few moments.

But first, if Republicans want to pick a fight, President Obama looks like he is, in fact, ready to rumble. The President showing flashes of anger and defiant, sort of drawing two lines in the sand, more like boundaries in his first news conference since winning re-election. First, on taxes and the fiscal cliff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: But what I'm not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent that we can't, and according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The President is also making clear he has the back of America's ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, after the September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. She announced the violence there at that time was triggered by an anti-Islam video produced in the U.S. Now two top ranking Republicans are bound to block Rice's nomination if she's picked to be the next Secretary of State. It hasn't happened yet, however, this clearly angered the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: White House correspondent Dan Lothian is live from Washington this morning. I want to start talking about the fiscal cliff because he did set some boundaries. He, of course, optimistically said we could see a deal by next week if they did it his way, but that really hinges on the issue of taxes. How are Republicans responding?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, two ways. First of all, there seems to be this willingness among Republicans to find areas of agreement, to find some compromise.

But they are pushing back on the President's proposals, because they don't think that a solution should mean raising taxes on any Americans, including wealthy Americans. So there doesn't seem to be a lot of wiggle room here, but Speaker John Boehner sounded a bit optimistic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE SPEAKER: I've outlined a framework for how both parties can work together to avert the fiscal cliff, without raising tax rates. A few have looked closely what the President have had to say, have looked closely at what I have had to say. There are no barriers here to sitting down and beginning to work through this process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: The President says under his plan, 98 percent of Americans won't see their taxes, 97 percent of those small businesses won't be impacted at all.

And while the President believes that there's room to close some of these loopholes, to have some tax reform, he doesn't believe that there's enough there to make up $1 trillion and that there needs to be a comprehensive approach, so that middle class Americans won't be impacted -- John.

BERMAN: Dan, the President also talked about the Petraeus investigation. What's he saying about that right now?

LOTHIAN: And this was the first time that the President has weighed in on this publicly. He had very kind words for General Petraeus and his service, not only in Afghanistan, Iraq, but also at the CIA. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: From my perspective, at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done. And my main hope right now is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: The President said that at this point, there's no evidence that any classified information was compromised. But when pressed on other details, such as timeline, the President says that this is all part of the FBI investigation.

BERMAN: All right, Dan Lothian in Washington, thanks so much.

SAMBOLIN: It is 3 minutes past the hour. A major development in the Petraeus sex scandal and it leads back to square one. We now know the identity of the FBI agent who helped start the investigation that eventually led to the former CIA director's resignation.

He is Frederick Humphries II. He's 47 years old. He is a veteran investigator. Also, two U.S. officials say Petraeus' biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell, security clearance is now suspended pending the outcome of this ongoing investigation.

Barbara Starr is following developments live from the Pentagon for us. Good morning to you, Barbara. So, so far officials say they have found no evidence that Broadwell broke any laws or engaged in any criminal activity, so why have they suspended her security clearance?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, good morning. By all accounts, this is from the FBI, from law enforcement sources, and you heard the President say that national security hasn't been compromised, but inside the military, it is a different situation.

Broadwell is an Army reservist, a lieutenant colonel, specializing in military intelligence. And in that world, you can't have any glitches on the handling or possession of classified information.

So if they found classified information in her house or information she wasn't handling appropriately, she's got a big problem on her hand. And by all accounts, that's why her clearance was suspended.

The Army issued this statement saying, quote, "The Army has been cooperating with federal law enforcement authorities in this matter and those actions are ongoing. Appropriate actions with regard to this officer's clearance and access have been taken."

So there you have it right there. Her clearance has been suspended pending the investigation. Her problem now is she's going to have to demonstrate that she did not violate any of the military rules in the handling of classified information and try and get her clearance back and keep her career -- Zoraida. SAMBOLIN: Let's talk about General Petraeus. Tomorrow, he'll address leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees about the deadly Benghazi attack. We do know it's a closed-door session. Do you have any idea what will be discussed?

STARR: Well, we don't. This will be behind closed doors. Petraeus is going up there voluntarily. The committee is wanting to hear from him. By all accounts, what he will have to do is walk through the timeline, what did he know about Benghazi, when did he know it, what conclusions.

And intelligence was there right off the bat that this was either a terrorist attack or as Susan Rice had publicly indicated, the ambassador to the U.N., that it had something to do with a demonstration about an anti-Islamic film.

This is the big controversy, so what senators, what Congress wants to know, is how much information Petraeus had right from the beginning that it was a terrorist attack -- Zoraidaa.

SAMBOLIN: That's what everybody wants to know. Barbara Starr, live from the Pentagon, appreciate that. Thank you.

Coming up at 6:30 a.m. Eastern, House Homeland Security Committee Chair Peter King will join us. He called the Petraeus scandal and the FBI's failure to kick it up the ladder a crisis of major proportions.

BERMAN: A top Republican thinks Mitt Romney is way off base for claiming the President won re-election by giving gifts to young and minority voters. Listen to how the beaten Republican nominee is explaining his election loss in a phone call to top donors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (via telephone): What the President's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, Louisiana's Republican Governor, Bobby Jindal says that Romney has it all wrong and is not speaking for the entire Republican Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: I absolutely reject that notion, that discrimination. I think that's absolutely wrong. That is not -- I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party. And I think that has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The Republicans plan to rebound from their election loss, they have to, quote, "stop dividing the American voters."

SAMBOLIN: We're going to go back to our breaking news. A new threat of war in the Middle East, Israel launching attacks on Hamas sites in Gaza. Militants have responded, sending rockets into Southern Israel, killing at least three people.

BERMAN: The new round of hostilities escalated following Israel's assassination of the top Hamas military commander leading to a warning that Israel has, quote, "opened the gates of hell."

CNN's Sara Sidner is live along the Israel/Gaza border this morning. Good morning, Sara, what are you seeing?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. We have actually made it into Gaza and you're looking at a shot of Gaza from the top of a building. What I want to tell you is that we have been seeing and hearing the loud sounds of air strikes, over and over again.

We've seen huge plumes of smoke here in Gaza City. We have also seen the other side of the border, about a couple of hours ago. We saw rockets coming in. At least, we counted ourselves, 15 rockets coming in over the last hour or so.

So we're hearing this back and forth and seeing it for ourselves. The people here in Gaza have -- 13 people have been killed since the targeted killing of the Hamas military wing commander, Ahmed Al- Jabari.

We're seeing now 120 people who have been injured, and 13 people dead, including nine militants, two children, and a pregnant woman. On the other side of the border, there are also been deaths. There are three Israelis that have died after a rocket hit an apartment building, which was in that sort of danger zone, within seven kilometers of the Gaza border.

Rockets just coming over, one over the other. We know at one point when we were crossing, where you have to walk through quite a long ways to get from one border to the other and into Gaza, there were lots of rockets coming over towards that crossing as well.

So a very dangerous situation right now, anywhere near this border, and a lot of fear on the part of civilians on both sides. If you look in the streets of Gaza, this is a highly, highly populated place, very densely populated.

There is almost no one in the streets, very few cars in the streets. The shops mostly are closed and you're looking right now in an area where it's usually bustling with people. So there's definitely fear on the parts of civilians.

And as you can imagine why, there's been 140 air strikes in the last eight or so hours, a very dangerous situation on both sides of the border.

BERMAN: You said three Israelis now dead in rocket strikes, the escalations of bombings by Israel. Now we understand the Israeli Defense Forces calling up reserves to prepare for at least the possibility of an infantry attack. Sara, this does seem like an escalation. Is there any end in sight?

of bombings by israel. Now we understand the israeli defense forces calling up reserves to prepare for at least the possibility of an infantry attack. Sara sarah, this does seem like an escalation. Is there any end in sight?

SIDNER: This is a major escalation. I mean, this is the most fighting and most violence we've seen between Israel and Gaza since really 2008 during "Operation Casled." So there are a lot of concern this is going to rachet it up even more.

As far as an end in sight, nobody knows. It's a matter of whether or not somebody can broker some sort of a cease-fire or a truce. They tried to do that a day ago using Egypt as the intermediary, that fell through.

Now Egypt has taken its ambassador out of Israel, so who will do the mediation and who will try to get in between these two warring factions and try to get them to come together to stop this is going to be a real difficult, a real problem, I think, for the time being.

But Israel is saying, look, if you keep send rockets into our country, we are going to respond and we are going to respond with force.

BERMAN: Right, Sara Sidner inside Gaza this morning. Thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, wondering about that response for the neighboring countries and how that will escalate as well.

It's 10 minutes past the hour here. Staten Island's long been called New York's forgotten borough, not today. Coming up, how the President will pay personal attention to the victims of Sandy just hours from now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: In just a few hours, President Obama will get a firsthand look at the recovery from superstorm Sandy here in New York City. The President will visit storm-ravaged Staten Island, viewing the devastation from the air before meeting with storm victims and local officials on the ground.

Many people there saying they feel simply abandoned by FEMA. CNN's Victor Blackwell is live on Staten Island this morning. Victor, you spoke with some residents there. How are they reacting to this visit today?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's mixed, John. There's not one person I spoke with who said they did not want the President to come.

But they are saying, Mr. President, if you come, bring some tools, bring some people ready to work, bring some heavy equipment so we can start to rebuild Staten Island.

There is a lot of what you're seeing behind me. This was a tech store that was just devastated by the storm. And not just the items, not just the homes, but more than half of the people who died as a result of Sandy in New York died on Staten Island.

The President, we heard from the White House, will walk along the Cedar Grove Avenue, in the section of Neudorf here on Staten and I met a man who moved here in 1959. His name is Dominick Traina, he was 13 years old, he moved in with his parents there. And then when he turned 18, he got married and bought a house up the street.

He told us how he felt, what he did when he came back and saw that both his childhood home and the home where he raised his children were both destroyed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: When you came back and saw this, what did you feel? What did you think?

DOMINIC TRAINA, STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT: Cried. You know, I don't know what I thought. I'm still in shock. You know, right now, we're living in the basement. We have nothing. We have nothing.

BLACKWELL: How do you start over?

TRAINA: At 66 years old, I don't know. I really don't. We're just going to stick together with the kids and try to make the best of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Fifty-three years on Cedar Grove Avenue in Neudorf, and I asked him, are you going to rebuild, are you going to stay? And he said, I don't think I want to live here anymore. He's 66 years old. This is all he's known in his adult life.

But he's hoping to speak with the President when he walks down that block today and ask for support for his neighbors, although they will not be his neighbors for much longer -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks -- Victor Blackwell on Staten Island. A tough situation there, still. Thanks, Victor.

SAMBOLIN: It is 16 minutes past the hour.

Jon Bon Jovi's 19-year-old daughter is recovering this morning after a heroin overdose. Authorities say Stephanie Bongiovi overdosed in her dorm at Hamilton College in Upstate New York. She and a fellow student were charged with drug possession.

BERMAN: It's the beginning of the end for the "Twilight" film franchise. "Breaking Dawn Part 2" debuts tonight in midnight shows from coast to coast. Critics say the fifth and final chapter may be the best of all the "Twilight" films. It's been described as a love letter to all those twi-hards who I'm told by reliable sources are, in fact, everywhere.

SAMBOLIN: We have some on our staff, actually.

BERMAN: Vampires or?

SAMBOLIN: No, not vampires.

BERMAN: Oh, Twi-hards.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, Twi-hards.

BERMAN: Speaking of vampires, later on "STARTING POINT," Elizabeth Reaser joins Soledad. She plays Esme Cullen who is the matriarch of "Twilight" vampire clan.

SAMBOLIN: Seventeen minutes past the hour.

One of the most frustrated things about flying is getting through airport security, right?

BERMAN: Yes, I'd say that.

In today's "Road Warriors," Christine Roman tells us how some technology may help travelers zip through that line.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And we have all been on the plane a lot lately, haven't we? And hope we won't be for sometime.

But, right, security lines, you guys, can add hours to your trip, can add an awful lot of frustration. There are a few programs out there, though, that cut your wait time. The TSA's pre-check program allows travelers to jump to the front of the line, move through security without removing their shoes, belts, or laptops.

You can -- John Berman apparently is in this program. These are the people I kind of like scowl when I see in the plane because they're moving so much more quickly. Passengers become a member by becoming part of a frequent flyer and then invited by the airline. Or you can apply to the U.S. Customs trusted traveler program like Global Entry -- Global Entry -- to be eligible.

You're not guaranteed to enjoy the benefits every trip. Members are randomly picked to go through the designated pre-check line. Others are sent through regular security but are able to skip the line. Pre- check not available at all U.S. airports, but TSA plans to roll out more, you guys , by the end of the year. So, keep a lookout in your city.

And the Clear Card is back. After shutting down in 2009, Clear has returned and is now in four airports, Orlando, Denver, San Francisco, and Dallas-Ft. Worth with more to come. Clear allows travelers to bypass regular security lines.

The process is simple. You swipe your clear card in a kiosk. You verify your identity with a fingerprint or iScan and you move through security.

A few things to note: Clear costs 200 bucks a year almost. While members do not have to pay to be part of pre-check. There's a cost of about $100 to apply to a U.S. Customs trusted traveler program to become eligible.

So how long you've been doing this?

BERMAN: Just -- six months ago, all of a sudden, they said, you're pre-check, get in the pre-check. For a long time, I traveled a lot, like a wicked lot. And so if your a frequent traveler, they put you in that program.

ROMANS: Wow.

BERMAN: And so, it is about a tenth, I get through a tenth of the time that I use to.

SAMBOLIN: But I thought with pre-check, you have to actually sign up for it.

BERMAN: Nope.

SAMBOLIN: And go through a background check?

BERMAN: They may have done a background check on me, I'm clean. But it wasn't at my request. The airline, my frequent flyer programs may have put me up for it.

ROMANS: That's so interesting. But you don't always know if you can do it, so you still have to plan for the time in the line. That's a big surprise.

BERMAN: I'm surprised every time when they put me in this magical line that passes like instantly.

Sorry, everyone. It's kind of awesome, though.

Nineteen minutes after the hour right now.

And there is a troubling trend on Wall Street. It began really as soon as the election ended. We'll have more, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. Welcome back. We are minding your business.

U.S. stock futures are trading higher this morning.

BERMAN: For now.

Christine Romans is back with us, talking markets, fiscal cliffs, CEO talks, and BP.

ROMANS: There's so much going on, you guys. First, though, let's talk about the markets because we have U.S. futures up, but we have concerns about the Eurozone. European stocks are down right now. And we heard -- we learned now that the euro area has fallen back into recession -- back into recession. That makes it a double dip.

This is a big trading partner of ours. Of course, we're really watching what happens in Europe, and so this is a concern, back in recession for the euro area. It's second recession in just four years.

It's one of the reasons why the Dow has had some real trouble getting off the mat. In fact, since the election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down almost 700 points. It has just been one day of bad news after the other. Yesterday, the Dow was down 185 points.

You've got the euro weakness, Eurozone weakness. You've also got this fiscal cliff concern. And that's something that's a big reason why a bunch of CEOs spent 90 minutes at the White House with the President the other day, talking about how they're going to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

Honeywell CEO David Cote said this is going to get solved one way or another. Well, yes. But you want to make sure it gets solved in the best interest of the middle class, of course, and that's something that Walmart is concerned about.

Its chief executive issuing a statement yesterday, saying our customers are working hard to adapt to the new normal, but their confidence is still very fragile. They're shopping for Christmas now, and they don't need uncertainty over a tax increase.

Now, some of the elites and insiders in the Beltway are saying, it's more like a slope. It's not like a fiscal cliff.

Look, $7 trillion over 10 years of spending cuts, tax increases go -- begin to take effect on January 1st and 2nd. You don't take all of that out of the economy on the very first day, but it begins and it really hits the psychology.

The reason why it's called a fiscal cliff is because people are very concerned about how quickly and how arbitrarily money is going to be taken out of the economy. Your taxes would rise, and that's something that would certainly hurt -- your taxes would rise right away on day one. There would be spending cuts right away on day one, and that's what these CEOs are so discouraged about.

They did say, though, they were optimistic after meeting the President. They hoped to avert it, that 90-minute meeting there.

And also a story, you guys, we covered extensively: BP. Remember the oil spill in 2010? Looks like BP is nearing a settlement with the Department of Justice. Remember these pictures? Trying to measure how much oil was being spewed into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP close to a deal on the oil spill -- the company confirming it, first reported by "Reuters". BP shares, I worked it out before we came in, up 62 percent since the worst, when Tony Hayward resigned and all that. Amazing to me -- I mean, many people thought that BP was really in trouble forever.

We'll see what happens today with this. I'm really interested to see what this settlement looks like in the end.

BERMAN: What's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: Mortgage rates remain near historic lows. Mortgage rates today, (INAUDIBLE) mortgage payments. Late payments fell to a three- year low in the third quarter.

SAMBOLIN: That's good news.

ROMANS: Fewer homeowners are underwater. These rates are very slow. It's helping in this slow and steady healing in the housing market.

SAMBOLIN: You know, Poppy Harlow asked Warren Buffett about that as well, and he said, this is exactly what you want to see. Slow and steady.

ROMANS: Yes, it means it's real, it means it's real.

SAMBOLIN: That's right. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: That's good news.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

Coming up, the Cleveland judge who ordered a driver to hold an "idiot" sign for driving on the sidewalk around a day care speaks out on her unusual punishment. We're going to hear what she had to say.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Brink of war. Rocket the attacks and air strikes as the violence escalates in Gaza.

SAMBOLIN: Set to testify. The now-former CIA Director David Petraeus will tell his side of the Benghazi story by the end of the week.

BERMAN: And caught on camera. A woman dressed as a nurse tries to still an infant by stashing the baby in her purse. Oh, no!

All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SAMBOLIN: Let's head back to this morning's breaking news: a new threat of war in the Middle East. Israel launching attacks on Hamas sites in Gaza. Militants have responded, sending rockets into southern Israel, killing at least three people. The new round of hostilities escalated following Israel's assassination of the top Hamas military commander. You're taking a look at pictures of that right there. Leading to the warning that Israel has, quote, "opened the gates of hell".

CNN's Sara Sidner is live along the Israel-Gaza border. What can you tell us, Sara?

SIDNER: Zoraida, we've just heard and witnessed several huge blast airstrikes here in Gaza City. Not just behind us, but sort of all over the place in the city, seeing large plume of smoke coming up from this densely populated area.

We do know that so far, there are at least 120 people who have been injured, 13 people who have been killed, two of them children and a pregnant woman, but also, nine Hamas militants. Now, we're expecting to hear from Hamas, as you might imagine. The leaders of Hamas have gone underground, very hard to find, worried that they are going to be the next target by these Israeli airstrikes that have been quite targeted.

And they've been very clear in saying the Israeli military, that they did target the military leader of Hamas, Ahmed al-Ja'abari, that they pinpointed his car and then they struck it and killed him and the other person inside of that car.

Since then, we have seen hundreds of rockets coming over into Israel. We, alone on the border this morning saw at least 15 rockets coming in, about three kilometers from the Israel/Gaza border, coming into an area. And we heard not long after that that one of those rockets had hit an apartment building and killed three Israelis and injured another inside of that apartment building.

So death on both sides this morning, and it seems as though things are just getting hotter and hotter here.

SAMBOLIN: We're definitely worried about the escalation. On the Israel defense force's Web sites, it says they would not rule out a ground attack. Has there been any response from the neighboring countries?

SIDNER: The only response that we've been hearing directed at Israel, from one of their neighbors, is from Egypt. Egypt decided to remove its ambassador to Israel last night. We were talking to the foreign ministry, a spokesman there, who was telling us that they were not told immediately that they had to call Egypt and ask if the ambassador had indeed left. And that turned out to be true.

So you're seeing quite a bit of a response there from Egypt. Egypt making statements about what Israel is doing in Gaza, but Israel responding, saying that they have been the target of 120 rockets since Saturday. That has grown exponentially over the past day or so. They've seen now hundreds of rockets coming into Israel, and they say as long as they are being attacked, they are going to return and retaliate for those attacks.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Sara Sidner, live along the Israel/Gaza border -- thank you for that.

BERMAN: Thirty-four minutes after the hour right now.

David Petraeus will testify after all about the attack in Benghazi. When Petraeus resigned last week, he withdrew from an appearance before a congressional intelligence committee. That was supposed to be today. Republicans didn't like that one bit.

But now, the ex-CIA director has agreed to meet behind closed doors with the Senate committee sometime soon and the House committee tomorrow.

New York Republican congressman Peter King is on that House committee. He's the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee as well. He joins me now by phone.

And, Mr. Chairman, what are you going to ask him when he appears before you on Friday? What could he tell you, you don't know already?

REP. PETER KING, (D) NEW YORK (via telephone): I would think the main thing I would ask him is, first of all, you know, listen to what he says, as to what he now believes happened in Benghazi, and also ask him to square that with what he told us on Friday, September 14th, three days after attack, when he basically dismissed any possibility that it was a terrorist attack. Clearly said that it was caused by the video that was spontaneous and it was somehow connected to what happened in Egypt. And he was basically dismissing any thought of it having any al Qaeda connection.

I would ask him how he reached that conclusion on September 14th, and what changed since then, and how much has he learned since then that was different from what he knew. To me, it's a real issue as to why he was so wrong back on September 14th.

BERMAN: Mr. Chairman, that, of course, is a lot of the same explanation that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations gave. And it's an explanation that has Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham highly critical over of her -- so critical they say they would block any nomination of her to become Secretary of State.

I'm sure you have heard this clip by now already, but that upset President Obama very much in his news conference yesterday. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As I've said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House, in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So, Mr. Chairman, you know, the President, obviously, very critical there. You have called for Susan Rice's resignation. However, she had the same information that David Petraeus had, apparently given by the DNI, apparently given to people who were doing interviews.

How does that square?

KING: Actually, I think we'll find out, that was not the information that the CIA had. It's not the information that David Petraeus had. And that's why his testimony on September 14th was so unusual.

The fact is, without going into all the details, documents we've seen show that within 24 hours of the attack, people in the intelligence community believe that this was a terrorist attack, that it was a planned attack. And so when they knew that, the day after, which would have been September 12th, why on September 14th was General Petraeus saying it was not a terrorist attack? Why did Susan Rice carry that out? The same thing on December 16th.

And the President can't have it both ways. He also said yesterday, why attack Susan Rice, she had nothing to do with Benghazi. If she has nothing to do with Benghazi, why did they put her on five national television shows if she has nothing to do with Benghazi?

BERMAN: I guess I don't understand, you think now that David Petraeus when he was CIA director that he was lying to you on the 14th?

KING: I'm going to ask him tomorrow, because it was clear in intelligence reporting the days after September 11th that this was a planned terrorist attack. And without going into all the details, there was certain information there, that it was a planned terrorist attack. And yet they said that it wasn't. And why they said that, I don't know.

BERMAN: So you have called for Susan Rice's resignation, forgetting what happens to her future job. You've called for her flat-out resignation. Yet when David Petraeus resigned, you said that's a real loss for the country and a real loss for the CIA. Is that a double standard there? You want Susan Rice to quit, but when David Petraeus does for something else, when he gave you the same information, you don't seem to have a problem with it?

KING: Yes. I know what you're saying. No, his talent and ability he brought to the country, his record as commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and what he's done in the CIA, absent that one appearance on September 14th. I've also said a number of times that that appearance was so different from everything he's done in his career, that's why he has to be questioned.

But his overall career was a tremendous service to this country.

BERMAN: And you can't me get that information or tell me that information you have that leads you to believe that you're so certain that he was misrepresenting the facts?

KING: No, I think -- the fact is -- I mean, it's been reported since then that that night, there were people on the ground saying that this was a terrorist attack. There was no evidence at all that this was a demonstration.

You know, we've heard people from the State Department testify before Darrell Issa's committee, that there was no compelling evidence at all that this was spontaneous. The evidence was that it was a planned terrorist attack. In fact, in the weeks leading up to that, there were a number of threats made by al Qaeda elements against the U.S. in Benghazi.

So, all of the evidence, all of the preponderance of evidence clearly was that this was a terrorist attack. Now, there could have been caveats, they could have been saying, we can't make a final decision. I would have accepted that. And they could have said that we --

BERMAN: All right. Congressman Peter King, Homeland Security Committee chairman, also sits on the Intelligence Committee -- we look forward to speaking to you after perhaps Friday when you get this briefing. Thank you very much, Chairman.

KING: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

Called out by the prime minister -- coming up, tough words for an American multimillionaire on the run in the midst of a murder investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: A lot of news this morning, including breaking news in the Middle East.

Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look what's ahead on "STARTING POINT".

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, lots to talk about this morning, starting at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

President Obama takes on Congress. He's defending his U.N. ambassador against those Republican attacks, says he's willing to compromise on tax rates. Big question today is: will a deal be reached -- excuse me -- or is there a line in the sand?

We're going to talk this morning with Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen. Dutch Ruppersberger as well is going to be with us. Nevada Congressman Joe Heck is our guest as well.

So many concerns about going over the fiscal cliff. One man says he's not to worried, and that would be Warren Buffett. He says it won't be too bad as long as the President sticks to one principle. We'll tell you what the Oracle of Omaha says that one principle is.

And she's pop princess making waves on the big screen. Jordin Sparks is going to join us live. She's got a new perfume which I think is awesome, because it's called Ambition.

SAMBOLIN: Nice. O'BRIEN: And talk a little bit a bout all her ambition, the young woman who tried to make it Hollywood.

And one of the most anticipated movies of the fall, the final installment of the "Twilight" series is out at midnight. We're going to talk to one of the vampire stars, Elizabeth Reaser, who plays the matriarch, Esme Cullen.

All that and much more ahead this morning on "STARTING POINT". We'll see you right at the top of the hour.

BERMAN: You smell ambition today.

O'BRIEN: Raw ambition. This is what it smells like.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thanks, Soledad.

Forty-four minutes past the hour.

The prime minister of Belize has some tough words for antivirus software pioneer John McAfee, urging him to come forward and talk to the police and explain what, if anything, he knows about his neighbor's murder. McAfee has gone into hiding now, because he says that authorities in Belize are trying to frame him for that crime.

Martin Savage is live in Belize.

And, Martin, what have authorities in Belize told you?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, what they've said is they cannot find John McAfee, and that is extremely frustrating, given the passage of time, all of the publicity, and the fact that not one person has come forward to say that they have found this man.

So, it is extremely upsetting to them. In fact, what really upsets them is the fact that McAfee continues to not only hide, but taunt them with phone calls to members of the cyber media, claiming that his life is in danger because of police. Finally, yesterday, the Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, had enough. He fired back. Listen to what he said to local channel 5.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN BARROW, BELIZE PRIME MINISTER: Never met the man, don't know what he looks like. I don't want to be unkind, but it strikes me that he's extremely paranoid. In fact, I would go so far as to say bonkers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: Remember, this is a story that involves two Americans, not just the famous one, that being McAfee, but also Greg Fall (ph), who is the other American who is his next-door neighbor who was murdered with a gunshot to the back of his head. That's why authorities want to talk to McAfee. He was the neighbor. He's the man next door. But the two men also had some bad blood between them. Right now, authorities say it is the only the opportunity to talk to McAfee they want, but when he's on the run, they wonder if there's a lot more to this, as do we all -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: No, indeed. It's such a disturbing story. Martin Savidge live for us in Belize, thank you for that.

Forty-six minutes past the hour. Ace is high. Coming up, the two men who just grabbed one of baseball's biggest awards and why they couldn't be more different from each other.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: About 50 minutes after the hour right now. We want to get you up to date on all the headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): A new threat on both sides of the Israel-Gaza border as violence is escalating this morning. Israel targeting Hamas sites inside Gaza, killing at least 13 people. Militants firing rockets into Southern Israel. At least three people have died there. This new violence triggered by, well, the most recent trigger was Israel's assassination of the top Hamas military commander.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): A Georgia woman who posed as a nurse and tried to steal a newborn baby is apologizing. She's behind bars. Surveillance cameras caught Naquelle Ballard putting the infant into her purse, and there she is, trying to escape. Two maintenance workers were able to stop her.

And now, Ballard says she regrets what she did. She says depression from two miscarriages led her to commit that crime. However, a judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison.

BERMAN: All right. This is Zoraida's favorite story. The Cleveland judge who ordered a woman to hold a sign on a street corner saying he was an idiot for driving around the school bus on the sidewalk in front of the day care center. This judge is now talking about the decision. And Judge Pinkey Carr says the woman -- the way the woman handled this whole thing was unacceptable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE PINKEY CARR, CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL COURT: Now, I can understand that she might be a little upset, a little anger. She was very defiant. I was surprised to see that the only time she actually held the sign, and I understand that during the hour, it was times at which she did hold it, briefly.

But, the only time that I actually saw her physically come in contact with the sign was to utilize it to block the wind so that she could light her cigarette. So, for me, it was just kind of a smack in the face. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I wouldn't mess with this judge. Meanwhile, the full sign read, "only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus." You're seeing the idiotic (INAUDIBLE) there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): I thought it was a really great idea and a wonderful way to handle this, because it was an idiotic move, right? You, however, thought that it was too harsh?

BERMAN (on-camera): No, no, no, I applaud the move. Your zeal over harsh punishment, in general, frightens me. That's what scares me.

SAMBOLIN: Well, I thought --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: And by the way, folks, he had this "Idiot" sign created for me to hold over my head. I'm trying to find it, because I wanted to put it over yours.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: Anyway, I love that judge. Keep 'em coming.

All right. Fifty-two minutes past the hour. He was kicked around the league. Now, he is King of the Hills. The New York Mets, R.A. Dickey wins 2012 Cy Young Award for the National League. Dickey is a first knuckleballer to win that award. He was the Mets' first 20-game winner in more than two decades.

In the American League, a fireballer, not a knuckleballer, David Price, of the Tampa Bay Rays won that award. Price tied for the A.L. lead with 20 wins. He just barely edged out defending Cy Young winning, Justin Verlander, in the voting. That was really close.

BERMAN: Justin Verlander, of course, manhandled the New York Yankees, which is a team that is widely loved by one Rob Marciano who joins us live now from Atlanta who's covering storms that just had to get a cheap shot in. Hey, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I appreciate that. Baseball has been very, very good to me.

(CROSSTALK)

MARCIANO: No, the Sox around early and Yankees soon followed. Hey, not great baseball weather across the Carolinas. Good morning again, guys. Charleston up through Charlotte, getting some rainfall. Some of this is pretty heavy. They can use the rain, for sure, but some thunder and lightning and some heavy downpours, maybe a slow-go if you're traveling that way.

There's some fog also across parts of the northeast. Temps are chilly. And the freezing are below mark in Nashville, 28 degrees there, 43 degrees in Atlanta, 37, a cold rain in Charlotte. Thirty in Scranton, below freezing in some spots across the northeast and areas. There is a little bit of fog. So, just be aware of that.

Other than that, fairly quiet. Fifty in Chicago for a high temp today, 62 degrees in Kansas City, and 66 out in San Francisco. As much as the rest of the country, fairly quiet. You got to go to the pacific northwest to get a little bit of action. The west coast, including Northern California and Central California will get a little bit of rainfall as we go through the rest of this week as they're getting into the stormy period.

If you're traveling today, some wind across the New York metros. It's shouldn't be a big deal and some patch fog and some spots. And if you're going to be watching the meteor showers Friday night into Saturday morning, these are the areas where we expect to see the visibility to be good.

Nothing like the old meteor shower on a cool, crisp, fall evening. That's tomorrow night -- Guys.

BERMAN: Fantastic. Thanks so much, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right.

SAMBOLIN: Today's "Best Advice," coming up. stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Just a couple minutes left, as always, we wrap it up with "Best Advice."

SAMBOLIN: Here's Christine.

ROMANS: Thanks, guys. Today, we hear from world champion and U.S. Olympian, Lolo Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOLO JONES, OLYMPIAN: I'd say the best advice I give to others who are just trying to pursue any Olympic dreams or just any goal they have in life is that to be motivated by your failures, because sometimes it takes one, two, maybe three tries, but if you keep going and use your failures as your motivation, you can knock it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Use your failures as your motivations. If you don't win, you want to win next time. It's one of those things -- like when I talk to young people, I say, you're going to make so many mistakes, that's good. Learn from those mistakes, don't make the same mistake twice, win the next time. It's the same kind of --

SAMBOLIN: And they look at you a little cross-eyed, right?

(CROSSTALK) ROMANS: You know, just learn from your failures.

BERMAN: I've got a lot to learn then.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: That's a large source of motivation for me. That is all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.