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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Obama Prepared for a Fight; Interview with Congressman Joe Heck; Dow Falls 200 Points; BP to Pay Millions for Oil Spill; Deadly Dose: Dangers of Prescription Overdosing; New Details Emerge Concerning Petraeus Resignation; Interview with Dutch Ruppersberger; Hearings on Benghazi Attack Today; Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part 2
Aired November 15, 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: Welcome back, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, tough talk from the Commander in Chief, President Obama making it clear he is willing across the aisle on tax rates, but also letting Republican leaders know not to talk about his ambassadors.
Violence in Gaza this morning, rocket attacks between Israel and Palestinian militants after U.N. Security Council holds an emergency session about the crisis. We're following a developing story live straight ahead.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And Dow falls nearly 200 points, closing at a five-month low, Soledad. This morning, news the Eurozone has slipped back into recession. Oh, and that -- that fiscal cliff is still there. What it all means for you.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: BP reportedly close to a plea deal over the Gulf oil spill that could cost the oil giant billions. That's straight ahead.
O'BRIEN: Packed show for you this morning.
Nevada Congressman Joe Heck will join us. NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us. Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, "Twilight" actress Elizabeth Reaser.
It's Thursday, November 15th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.
O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody.
Our team this morning: Charles Blow on the other side of me is with us, "New York Times" columnist, Stephen Baldwin right next to me, actor, of course. Jim Frederick is international editor for "TIME", and "EARLY START" co-anchor John Berman. Christine Romans sticks around as well.
Our STARTING POINT: We're talking about President Obama, who seems prepared to fight on a couple of critical fronts right now. The president showing off the fire yesterday during his very first news conference since he won re-election, drawing what seemed to be a pretty red line for Republicans, the first one on taxes and the fiscal cliff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But what I'm not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can't afford and, according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: He also wanted Republicans to be aware that he is supporting U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice. She, initially, of course, said the September 11th attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi began as a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam film.
Because of that, two top-ranking Republicans are promising to scuttle any nomination if she, in fact, is picked as being the next Secretary of State. And with that, the president was very annoyed. Here's what he said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Let's get right to White House correspondent Dan Lothian in Washington, D.C. this morning.
Let's begin with taxes.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, it seems like both sides are still digging in on that main issue. Republicans don't want to see taxes go up even on wealthy Americans because they believe that will stifle economic growth, that it will hit those very same people who are the job creators. The president digging in, saying that he believes that these Bush era tax cuts should not be extended to wealthy Americans.
The bottom line, though, is that both sides, Republicans in particular, do seem willing to find some area of common ground, some area of agreement. Speaker Boehner sounding somewhat optimistic.
The president says that he is even open to some good ideas from Republicans. He said he will not slam the door in their faces.
But, again, the bottom line, the president not wanting these Bush era tax cuts to be extended to wealthy Americans, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Dan Lothian for us this morning. Thank you, Dan. Appreciate that. And, you know, before I let you go, let's talk about Susan Rice. Obviously, you know, we see the president pretty angry, curious might be a good we to describe it, too, in defending her. How do you think that's going to end up?
LOTHIAN: That's right. It was a very full-throated defense from the president, something we've not heard from him up to this point.
The president sort of making the point here if you want to attack anyone, attack me and calling the attacks from Republicans, in particular, Senator John McCain, who has been going after Ambassador Rice because he believes that the narrative that she told shortly after those attacks as they turned out not to be the case and he wants to know why. He said we're trying to get all the facts here, suggesting that this White House has not been transparent.
The president calling those attacks outrageous, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Dan Lothian in front of the White House this morning. Thanks, Dan.
Let's get to Congressman Joe Heck. He's joining us this morning. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which is holding a hearing on Benghazi. That's going to happen in about two hours. He is a Republican, I should mention, from the state of Nevada.
Nice to have you with us, sir. Thank you for being with us.
REP. JOE HECK, (R) NEVADA: Good morning. Thank you.
O'BRIEN: So, let's talk about this hearing first. We know that looks like General Petraeus will in fact be appearing. What exactly do you want to know from him?
HECK: Well, what we're trying to get is all the information regarding the attacks in Benghazi and get a clear timeline because there's still a lot of conflict between what the administration and intelligence community saying on how this attack evolved. And so, we need to have full accountability of the administration, of the intelligence community. We need to have answers and transparency for the American people and certainly for the families of those who were lost.
O'BRIEN: You heard -- I was just talking to Dan Lothian about what the president has said, backing the U.N. Ambassador, Susan Rice. We know that John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both senators, have said they will try to scuttle any nomination if that would happen.
Would you support that scuttling? I mean, do you want to kill her nomination, in fact?
HECK: Well, the fact is you can't put somebody out as the face of the issue on all the Sunday morning talk shows and then turn around weeks later and say she knew nothing about the incident, had nothing to do with it. I mean, that is just plainly wrong. You don't put somebody out who doesn't know about the issue and just have them go out to feed us the information that the administration wants put out. So we have to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi, and certainly the Senate will hold confirmation hearings, if she's nominated to be the Secretary of State and I leave it to the Senate to decide?
O'BRIEN: But didn't that happen with Condi Rice? Yes, I mean, Anderson was asking John McCain this yesterday, right? I mean, if you use that measurement, put someone out, for example, about weapons of mass destruction that turn out, ultimately, not to be the case and they're the face of that and later you determine that they're not there and the information was wrong.
Isn't that exactly analogous of what happened to Condoleezza Rice, who John McCain supported and who Lindsey Graham supported?
HECK: I believe so because here we had a situation where the information was wrong, not coming back and saying that the person had nothing to do with the situation. I mean, Condi Rice was in the position to be able to be the face. The information was wrong.
But here, we had wrong information and then weeks later the administration coming back saying, well, this person had nothing to do with the situation. So, if you want to put somebody out that has information.
O'BRIEN: Let's walk through that more slowly -- let me walk through that more slowly so you don't lose me. You're saying the issue in both cases, weapons of mass destruction and information intelligence coming to the U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, both cases the information was wrong. What you take exception with is what the White House did later? Is that what you're saying?
HECK: Exactly. The fact is that what we have is a situation where somebody who had no firsthand knowledge is now put out to be the face of the incident, and then weeks later saying, come and attack me because she had nothing to do with it.
Look, we not only have to get to the bottom --
O'BRIEN: You've lost me completely. I'm sorry. Forgive me. You've lost me.
In both cases you have someone who says we had intelligence. The intelligence was wrong. What I said was wrong because the intelligence was wrong. How is this not analogous to Condoleezza Rice?
HECK: Because nobody came out and said that Condoleezza Rice had nothing to do with the situation. Here's the difference, is that they put forward really a sacrificial lamb in Ambassador Rice, somebody that could go out and make statements and they could claim deniability after the information was proven to be wrong.
O'BRIEN: So nobody said that Condoleezza -- so, Charles Blow, help me. Forgive me. I'm not being facetious at all. I'm just really trying to understand this. So, he is saying nobody said Condoleezza Rice didn't have anything to do with the situation.
CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": What I'm trying to figure out is are you saying that Condoleezza Rice actually should have known, because she had more intimacy with the information and then still said something that she knew was wrong and then, in fact, Susan Rice is a sacrificial lamb because she was put out as the face of the administration but didn't know anything? So, in fact, it's more of a defense of Susan Rice than it is a condemnation of Susan Rice.
O'BRIEN: That's how it sounds to me.
BLOW: That's how it sounds to me.
O'BRIEN: Forgive me, sir. So you walk us through that one more time. You think it's different because Condoleezza Rice actually had firsthand knowledge?
HECK: Nobody came back after the fact in that situation with Condoleezza Rice to say she had no knowledge, had nothing to do with the situation. Here we're saying that Ambassador Rice was put out as the public face and then after the information blew up, was found to be wrong, was told -- was said that she had nothing to do with the situation and no knowledge.
So why was she put out as the face of the administration on this issue? We have to get to the bottom of not only the response to the attacks in Benghazi, but also to the ultimate failures of the intelligence community recognized the threat and prepare for the threat to mitigate the attack.
O'BRIEN: I feel like you're saying from your own comments that Susan Rice had nothing to do with either of those things. She didn't have something to do with the intelligence failures, which I believe you just said. And it looks as if she had no knowledge at the time. So, she's cleared on that front. Maybe later the White House with his reiterating she had no knowledge.
So, why would you possibly blame her then?
HECK: Well, I'm not blaming ambassador rice. What I'm blaming is the administration for not putting forward the information that they had in a quick enough manner to put clarity to the situation to the American people and the family of those that were lost. We still have conflicting information between intelligence community and the administration and that's what we hope to get to the bottom of today, in an intelligence hearing that we'll be having with Director of National Intelligence Clapper and Acting Director Morell , as well as tomorrow when former Director Petraeus comes before the committee.
O'BRIEN: Congressman Joe Heck, thank you, sir. I appreciate you walking through that slowly for me. I was getting confused about what you were telling me. Thank you.
HECK: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: All right. John Berman has a look at the other stories we're looking at this morning.
BERMAN: Thank you, Soledad. That was interesting.
Escalating violence between Israel and Palestani militants fueling fears of a new Middle East war. Israeli strikes have bombarded Gaza and militants are hitting back, launching rockets across the border into southern Israeli. The death toll right now, it is mounting.
CNN's Sara Sidner is live right now in Gaza City where there have been explosions all morning there -- Sara.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That was just a major hit here in Gaza. It sounded like an air strike that was very, very close to us. I'm just going to turn around to see if I can see where that may have hit. I can't see the plume of smoke, but two huge explosions just behind me in Gaza City.
We've been hearing the explosions all day long. There have been airstrike after airstrike after airstrike.
So far now, the number of dead here has now gone up. Instead of 13, which it was just an hour ago, now that number is 15 -- 15 people dead. We know at least nine of the 15 are Hamas militants. The rest, as we're told so far, are civilians, including two children and a pregnant woman.
Now on the other side of the border, rockets have been sent out from Gaza. Hamas, in particular, saying it's sending rockets over into Israel in retaliation for the airstrike that killed its military commander yesterday. Those rockets, we're talking about somewhere around 196 rockets, three people in Israel killed while they're inside their apartment -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Sara Sidner, obviously right in the middle of it all right now in Gaza City. Thanks very much.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus speaking out. He talked to HLN's Kyra Phillips, telling her he's looking forward to testifying about the consulate attack in Libya. Kyra described this conversation with Petraeus to Robin Meade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYRA PHILLIPS, HLN ANCHOR (via telephone): He wants to testify. He will testify. He has maintained to me all along that this was a personal failing, Robin, which as I said to me was quite stunning, and to many other people. He's not the type of person I've ever known to fail at anything, knowing him as long as I have over the years. And so, he has made it very clear that this was about an extramarital affair and not over classified information or Benghazi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now, Kyra says Petraeus insisted to her that he never passed classified information on to Paula Broadwell. All right. So happening right now, you're about to look at a live picture from the steps of the Capitol in Washington. That right there -- the incoming freshmen class, members of the House of Representatives taking their class photo.
On the Democratic side, it's a diverse collection of women and minorities who actually outnumber white male Democrats for the first time in history. On the Republican side, mostly white males. So, minorities and women actually lost on the Republican side.
Later today, BP may admit criminal misconduct in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf. "Reuters" reports the oil giant in the Justice Department have reached the plea deal. The company will reportedly acknowledge some type of criminal behavior and is expected to pay a record fine in exchange for a waiver of future prosecution. BP will only tell us that a deal is close.
Mitt Romney taking heat from his own party for claiming the president won this election by giving gifts to and minority voters. Here is how the former Massachusetts governor is explaining his defeat in a phone call to top donors. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 AUDIO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now, Louisiana's Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, a Republican, says Romney is just dead wrong and is warning his party to, quote, "stop dividing the American voters".
O'BRIEN: You're a Romney supporter, aren't you?
STEPHEN BALDWIN, ACTOR: Big time.
O'BRIEN: Yes, that's what I thought.
BALDWIN: Big time.
O'BRIEN: We had a conversation about that. So what do you think? He went on -- we don't have the full transcript of what he said but basically said there were gifts, people got freebies and that's why they voted for President Obama.
BALDWIN: Listen, this was a pretty wild election. The president won. We want him to do well.
I think people -- he won simply because I think his supporters believe that in another -- with four more years, he's going to achieve what he said, and good on you. I wish him all the best.
But I think -- put yourself in Romney's shoes. I mean, this guy has been chomping at the bit to be president for a long time and this was probably the closest he was ever going to get. We'll see what happen. So I think probably he's just trying to analyze it in a way that may be questionable, but he lost.
O'BRIEN: I guess I agree with you on that. He lost.
O'BRIEN: Kumbaya today. We agree on everything. I love it. I love it.
All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning. Bad boy of NASCAR, racer Kurt Busch is going to join us. He's got a new documentary. It's called, not exactly a surprise, "Outlaw." Here he is.
We're back right after this with him.
O'BRIEN: "GQ" magazine once put our next guest on its "Most Hated Athlete" list, right behind Berry Bonds and Terrell Owens. I'm talking about the bad boy of NASCAR, Kurt Busch. His rise and fall in the sport of racing is the subject of the brand new documentary called "Kurt Busch: The Outlaw." Nice to have you with us.
KURT BUSCH, NASCAR DRIVER: It's good to see you. Rise, fall, but where is that other rise part?
O'BRIEN: Well, that's we're here to talk about. Is this a story of the rise, fall, the rise of Kurt Busch?
BUSCH: Everybody loves that. That's what makes America so entertaining --
O'BRIEN: Do you have to be --
BUSCH: -- to watch everybody go up and go down and have all the problems that they do.
O'BRIEN: The documentary is so entertaining, but you have to be bleeped out a lot, because you like foul words a little bit. We'll play you a little bit first and we'll talk on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSCH: First thing that comes out of my mouth is I need to kick your (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Can you get this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of my face?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: KURT Busch has been suspended.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That kind of anger will eat you up.
BUSCH: It refrains me from not beating the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of you right now.
That moment turned everybody against me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Tell me why you wanted to be part of a documentary that would look at you in a very -- I mean, I think, you know, bright light. They don't -- it's not sugar coated.
BUSCH: Well, cameras and I have never really gotten along. That's obvious.
O'BRIEN: That's an understatement, Yes.
BUSCH: But we did this because we had so much footage from one weekend where we were doing a lot of awareness around PTSD with the armed forces foundation. So, you see a lot of these troops come to the track. We're doing things around the track activities to get their mind off things, to create a nice environment for them to enjoy, and the group that came out to cover this said, we expected you to be an A-hole.
We expected you to be upset down and backwards with granting access to us. And I went, well, this is who I am.
O'BRIEN: Are you a nice guy?
BUSCH: This is not who we see.
BALDWIN: He's a very nice guy.
BUSCH: Well, there's always that Busch brother problem. Baldwin brother problem.
BALDWIN: Don't put me in that group.
O'BRIEN: Seriously, are you a nice guy who's just kind of misunderstood?
BUSCH: Well, I have a fiery attitude when I put the helmet on. It's just that mentality of when you go into battle and you're a sports guy, you have to do what it takes to win. And sometimes, it rubs people the wrong way, especially with the way the fabric of the way everything has viewed these days has to be so clean, crisp-cut, and you can't have any blemishes.
I mean, Coach Bobby Knight is a guy I looked up to, tossing chairs, cursing guys, and coaching through fear. That's really how my dad taught me.
BERMAN: First of all, I love how you drive, first of all. But watching this video, this documentary, I was struck by how much you seem to mistrust and not like the media. I don't know if it's just specific in NASCAR with extensive -- O'BRIEN: We're nice.
BERMAN: or us here.
O'BRIEN: People like us sometimes.
BUSCH: This is a nice desk, so far.
BERMAN: What's the job of the media? What do you see the job of the media is?
BUSCH: Well, for me, when I was racing, it was just about results in the beginning. And, when you would talk about a bad finish, it was, well, I was running fifth all day. But then you would say that I raced poorly and finished poorly. Well, it was a mechanical problem. And I wanted them to look into it in more depth to find out why was there that bad result for the day instead of just the quick, oh, he finished 30th.
It was get in there with more detail. Define things that make a driver different than the next guy, because what's happened in our sport is a lot of guys are vanilla. A lot of guys are the same because corporate America spends millions of dollars to advertise in NASCAR. We all have to be crisp, clean-cut, tidied up and you can't have any blemishes.
O'BRIEN: I want to play another clip. This is from Talladega --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's our cougar.
BUSCH: Ricky Bobby (ph), having the struggles in his career, Kurt Busch having the struggles and trying to work your way back up. We did it to show that I was still marketable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Do you think that it's your attitude that has held you back? Like, if you didn't have this hot, fiery temper, that you would be a champion, you would be running first, that you would be the superstar, and we'd have a giant trophy sitting right here that we'd be talking about?
BUSCH: Well, that guy is Jimmie Johnson. He's the five-time champion that does everything the right way. He's very clean. He represents the sport well, and he does it at the fundamental level. For me, my attitude, sometimes, overshadows the effort that I'm putting forth. And it creates this villain or this black hat wearing character.
So, Johnson is like, man, you get all this attention for what you're doing here. Here I am, winning races, championships, and yet, my attention level isn't where he wants it to be. It's almost interesting, because now, NASCAR is starting to push, in a sense, the Busch Brothers right back in front of everybody. And then a guy named Jeff Gordon, he goes out there this weekend.
O'BRIEN: You had a little brawl the other day.
BUSCH: Retaliates right there like --
O'BRIEN: He was fined $100,000.
BUSCH: Yes. But he wasn't put on probation.
O'BRIEN: Like your brother.
BUSCH: Why? Yes. And that's the question.
O'BRIEN: So, why? Why do you think it is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to get together, bro.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a brother thing going. We got to talk.
BUSCH: Guilt by association.
O'BRIEN: So, you think the end of the story is the rise? Because a lot of people, I think, think of you're here. You've done some falling, but you think the story's end is your back on top as a champion?
BUSCH: Well, it's meant to just show me in a different lens. The one that you see behind the scenes and all the action that goes on, is it what it is? Well, now, we just want to tweak it just a little bit to go, oh, that's how that all developed. That's why there was the reaction that way.
O'BRIEN: You're killing my bad boy image of you.
BUSCH: I know.
O'BRIEN: You're so nice and reasonable.
BUSCH: But, give me that helmet and I turn right back into an idiot.
O'BRIEN: It's so nice to have you with us.
BUSCH: All right.
O'BRIEN: Thank you. The documentary is called "Kurt Busch: The Outlaw." It airs tonight on the Speed Network at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Got to take a short break, but coming up next, kills more people than car crashes. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to talk about the dangers, the staggering dangers of prescription drug overdoses. That's ahead.
ROMANS: And welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans, "Minding Your Business" this morning.
U.S. stock futures are basically mixed. Dow futures down a bit. S&P 500, NASDAQ futures up. Markets, though, had a really tough day yesterday. And since the election, the Dow is down nearly 700 points. This morning, we learned the Eurozone has fallen back into recession, the second recession in Europe in four years.
European markets lower. And there is the looming tax increases, spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. CEOs, though, were optimistic about their 90-minute meeting with the president yesterday.
Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke putting on a statement urging a solution to the fiscal cliff, wiring, quote, "Our customers are working hard to adapt to the new normal, but their confidence is still very fragile. They're shopping for Christmas now. They don't need uncertainty over a tax increase."
There you go. Remember the fiscal cliff was designed to be something that was so bad --
O'BRIEN: And now, we're talking about it, like it's not a cliff, it's a slope. It's not a slope. It's really a stairwell.
O'BRIEN: It's barely a drop. All right. Thanks, Christine.
There is a deadly drug epidemic that's unfolding right now in the United States. Prescription drug overdoses, in particular, painkillers now kill more people than car crashes. That's one of the startling statistics in Dr. Sanjay Gupta's new CNN documentary which is called "Deadly Dose." It premiere this is weekend. Sanjay, good morning. Nice to have you with us.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
O'BRIEN: So, what gave you the red flags about this epidemic?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I think I've been noticing, certainly, in the hospital where I work, the number of pain prescriptions being given out were increasing. But it was actually a call from former President Clinton. He called me a few months ago, and I never heard him sound quite like this.
He told me about two friends of his who had both lost sons within a few days of each other due to prescription drug overdoses. These were accidental deaths. And, he was talking about it and said, look, you know, someone dies in this country every 19 minutes in this way. It was a startling statistic, as you mentioned, surpassing now car crashes as the number one accidental cause of death. So, that certainly got my attention. That's when we started talking about. Subsequently, I've interviewed him specifically about this topic. I want you to listen to a short clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: This maybe a statistic that you know. I was surprised by it, but 80 percent of the world's pain prescriptions are in this country. Eighty percent. Does that surprise you?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, because --
GUPTA: Is that a cultural problem?
CLINTON: Yes, it is cultural. You know, people think, oh, I've got a headache or I've got this or my elbow's sore or whatever. Look, I don't want to minimize -- there are a lot of people who live courageous lives in constant pain. They're in pain all the time for reasons they can't control.
They need relief and they should get it. But there's no question that since we represent five percent of the world's people and far less than 80 percent of the world's people with above-average incomes, we got no business popping as many pills as we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Let me just give you a little bit more context for that, Soledad. We prescribe enough pain pills in this country to give every man, woman, and child a pill every four hours for three weeks. So, when we -- these pain pills are just everywhere. And you're seeing some of the consequences.
O'BRIEN: The documentary airs this weekend. It's fascinating. We've had lots of conversations about the risks of this and dangers to people. Sanjay Gupta, thank you, Sanjay. It's called "DEADLY DOSE", and it's going to air Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT, we're learning about the women involved in the Petraeus scandal and their security clearance as well. Plus, are there any plans for General Petraeus to testify about the Benghazi attack? That's been revealed. We'll talk about that, next.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. This just in to CNN. We're learning that the Justice Department will announce they have reached a deal with BP over the 2010 Deep Water Horizon spill in the gulf. BP have agreed to pay a record penalty well over the amount of $1.3 billion that Pfizer paid in 2009, according to one official. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to join federal and local officials in New Orleans for that announcement later today. So we will get an update on some of those details. And certainly what it will mean for the stock prices, as Christine was reporting earlier. BP stock well on the rebound. We'll talk about that.
Former CIA director David Petraeus is speaking out as well, talking to Headline News' Kyra Phillips, looking forward to testifying about the consulate attack in Libya. He also talked a little bit about the scandal that I'm told is taken on him and his wife of 40 years. Kyra described her conversation with General Petraeus to Robin Meade. Here's how that went.
KYRA PHILLIPS, HLN CORRESPONDENT: In our first conversation he had told me he engaged in something dishonorable and sought to do the honorable thing in response and that was to come forward. He was very clear that he screwed up terribly, that it was all his fault, and even that it -- he felt fortunate to have a wife who is far better than he deserves. Obviously, he is taking it really hard. He knows he made a big mistake and he does want to move forward, making things work with his family. He doesn't want to throw 37 years out the window with his wife.
I have never known him to be a flirtatious person. I have never known him to be inappropriate. And I think that was why this was so shocking on many levels. I think it's important that we need to hear from Paula Broadwell. We still have not heard from her. I do know that people within his inner circle have described her to be an aggressive woman, someone who, quote, unquote, "works her magic."
Not giving -- not taking Petraeus off the hook at all, but there are two people, obviously, in this situation. And he is saying it's all his fault, but it's important to see there's another person involved and we hope to hear from her as well and her side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Wow. Kyra said that Petraeus insisted to her that he never passed classified information along to his mistress, Paula Broadwell.
We're also getting more information on the identity of that FBI agent who helped start this whole investigation that eventually led to Petraeus' resignation, who is Frederick Humphries. Officials also saying that Petraeus' biographer and mistress' security clearance has been suspended. No big surprise there.
Let's start with what Kyra was saying, Barbara Starr, who is at the Pentagon. She said Petraeus is honorable. She didn't know him ever to be flirtatious, and then said a number of his friends were describing Paula Broadwell as someone who is aggressive and "works her magic" as she ensnares men apparently with her amazingness, all around. So I guess I'm not really surprised that the general's friends would be spinning it this way. What insight can you give us on this?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Let me cut to the chase. Kyra is absolutely right. Two people involved, to say the least. When we know, Soledad, is that General Petraeus in the last several days has authorized personal l personally several of his former aides to talk to the news media, including me. I have spoken to Steve Boylan, his former spokesman in Iraq. Steve tells me General Petraeus authorized him to speak to the news media.
First, let's be terribly clear. General Petraeus still putting out his words, his version of events through many of his former military aides.
As for Ms. Broadwell, she will have to speak her piece when she chooses to. You know, I think that it's also absolutely worth noting, by all accounts as far as we know David Petraeus did not plan to resign. This relationship we have reported broke up four months ago. He knew he was under investigation. Broadwell knew she was under investigation for the last four months, at least, if not even before that.
He has known all about this. He has known it and it was when he was confronted and asked about it by the director of national intelligence and apparently told he needed to tender his resignation that then this actually happened.
O'BRIEN: So maybe a little bit of spin as well in the, he decided to do the honorable thing and step forward and resign versus you've now been caught and you might want to think about resigning.
All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, giving us a little clarity on those interviews. Appreciate that, Barbara, as always.
O'BRIEN: I want to turn now to Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee. He was briefed by the FBI and CIA about the Petraeus investigation yesterday. I assume you can't give me every single detail you heard in the briefing, obviously. I'm curious to know what you still think is unanswered, not only about Benghazi, but this other scandal as well.
REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER, (D) MARYLAND: OK. First thing, we were briefed yesterday by Director Mueller, deputy director Sean Joyce and the acting director, Mike Morell of the CIA. A lot of questions were answered in that briefing and we are also having a hearing with our whole committee this morning at 10:00 where we'll be able to get more questions answered about this whole situation, Benghazi and some of the issues involving General Petraeus.
O'BRIEN: OK. So, in those conversations, do you also want to know about the affair or are you just going to focus on Benghazi or do you feel like nothing is compromised?
RUPPERSBERGER: This is focused on Benghazi. This is an active investigation that's going on. As long as that's going on, we're not going to be able to comment. There's a lot of information on our committee. We're focused in on national security. This started as a criminal investigation involving cyber harassment. That's how the investigation started. And that is why, at that time, that the CIA -- I mean that the FBI would not come to us. The FBI does not come to the White House when there are criminal investigations. A lot of that is because of what happened under Nixon and Watergate and Hoover and all those issues. If, in fact, there's an intelligence issue, it would come before our committee.
JIM FREDERICK, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, "TIME": This is Jim Frederick. I have a question about an investigation. How much of it is going to encompass ambassador rice in the role she played? As you know, senator McCain is highly focused on this, becoming a news point in its own right. Will you be looking into some of that investigation as well?
RUPPERSBERGER: That will be another committee. That is the committee that oversees the State Department. One of the things -- let me say from what I know -- this is only from more media than anything else. Information rice received she received from the administration. That information is what she knew at that time.
Whether or not she knew other information and whether or not she told the truth, that is not an issue here. So I think the president made a comment about that yesterday that she received information from his administration and that's what she went forward with. That is one of the issues and one of the concerns we had because we, on the Intelligence Committee, received the same information initially. Since the interviews and the meetings we had yesterday, a lot of that is being cleared up. And especially from the acting director of the CIA, Mike Morell.
FREDERICK: One follow-up. If she were nominated would you support her nomination to be Secretary of State?
RUPPERSBERGER: I'm the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee. I don't vote on that. As far as I know, she's doing a good job. That's up to the president whether he's going to nominate her. That's up to the senators on what information comes out about her, about her conduct and about her job.
FREDERICK: You don't have any opinion, though?
RUPPERSBERGER: If I did, I'm not going to give it. I don't think it's relevant at this point. I'm focused on Benghazi and I'm focused on the investigation, where it's going to go, and national security. So at this point that's not where my focus is going to be.
O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question about Benghazi. There's a report that when General Petraeus released the CIA's Benghazi time line, it really sort of set off this in-fighting between agencies. They were surprised that he had done that. They also felt like this only exacerbated the pointing of fingers. Is that correct and do --
RUPPERSBERGER: From my understanding, there was not in fighting between agencies about what happened on the ground. When help -- when the attack occurred and that they asked the agency for help, that the agency right away did what they could do to try to help save American lives. Those are some of the facts that need to be cleared up and what we're focused on and what we will be asking questions about this morning in the intelligence hearing.
O'BRIEN: I should remark that is coming from reporting in "The Wall Street Journal." That's where that was coming from.
O'BRIEN: Earlier I was talking to Joe Heck, congressman. I was asking him if there are parallels. My understanding is that he does not support Ambassador Rice being promoted to Secretary of State and he was talking about what has been asked of Senator McCain and Senator Graham, which is, is there some kind of analogy between what we see now with the ambassador and what we have seen before with Condoleezza Rice when she was in the process of being nominated? Do you see something analogous there?
RUPPERSBERGER: Unfortunately there's too much at stake with these appointments to worry about what happened in the past or payback. You know, the election is over. We've got some serious issues. We've got national security issues, a lot of volatility out in this world. And I think the president was reelected much he will pick who he thinks is the best person for the job. The process is that the U.S. Senate confirms his nomination.
I hope all members of Congress and U.S. Senate will base it on facts and data and not political agendas or not political issues. We've had enough of that. We have to move forward, not only in this arena, but the fiscal issue we're going to be dealing with in the next days and weeks also.
O'BRIEN: Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger joins us. He's a Democrat from Maryland. Nice to talk to you, sir. Thank you, as always.
We've got to take a break. Still ahead this morning, it's a national holiday for Twi-hards. The final "Twilight" movie hits theaters today. We're going to talk to one of the stars Elizabeth Reaser. She'll join us live to give us all the secrets of the movie. Not really all the secrets.
O'BRIEN: So we were chatting in the commercial break with Stephen Baldwin. Let's just continue that conversation.
BALDWIN: Oh no, no.
O'BRIEN: Yes. Well, you were going to say -- you're going to be --
BALDWIN: I'm a chat in the break.
O'BRIEN: Come on. I love the chat in the break. "Celebrity Apprentice" you're doing but you also have started in all seriousness with your daughters a clothing line. Tell me a little bit about that.
BALDWIN: No, no, it's not mine and I brought you a t-shirt. I picked the one that I thought would be most cute on you.
O'BRIEN: Oh my God, thank you.
BALDWIN: Because I'm not scared to say, Soledad, I think you're pretty cute.
O'BRIEN: Oh, I love you most of any of the panelists I have today. Thank you.
BALDWIN: So this is -- this is a shirt company called "So Lucky to B Me" and it's just the letter "b". So "So Lucky to just the letter 'B' Me".
O'BRIEN: These are your daughters?
BALDWIN: SoLuckytobme.com and here's my daughters. We did a photo shoot it's all for benefit for my mom's breast cancer organization.
O'BRIEN: Oh that's so great.
BALDWIN: "So Lucky to B Me" is this really uplifting, inspired T- shirt company for gals who have suffered from breast cancer, it's wonderful.
O'BRIEN: And those who support them.
BALDWIN: Yes and those who support --
O'BRIEN: "Ultimately, I am responsible for who I will become and where I will go from here." I love this.
BALDWIN: Yes it's really good.
O'BRIEN: Thank you for my present.
BALDWIN: It's very positive.
O'BRIEN: Good for you. We'll talk more about "Celebrity Apprentice" in the next break. Because what you were just telling us was very interesting.
I've got to take a break. Up next, it is probably -- no -- it is definitely the biggest movie of the year. The final "Twilight" star Elizabeth Reaser joins us to talk all the secrets. That's straight ahead.
How are you? It's so great to have you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH REASER, ACTRESS: Maybe a tad slower.
ASHLEY GREENE, ACTRESS: And blink at least three times a minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT PATTINSON, ACTOR: (INAUDIBLE) underestimated you. Every obstacle you face, I didn't think you couldn't overcome them. (INAUDIBLE) is dead.
TAYLOR LAUTNER, ACTOR: I didn't expect you to seem so you.
KRISTEN STEWART, ACTRESS: My time as a human is over, but I never felt more alive. I thought we would be safe forever, but forever isn't as long as I had hoped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Bella and Edward and Jacob and the whole blood thirsty gang are back. It's the fifth and final installment of the "Twilight Saga". It's called "Breaking Dawn: Part 2." And it opens tonight. And it is going to be huge.
Actress Elizabeth Reaser who plays the vampire Esme Cullen is with us. It's nice to see you.
REASER: It's nice to see you too.
O'BRIEN: You're not really as pale as you appear in the movie.
REASER: No, I'm fairly white but I'm not that white.
O'BRIEN: This is going to be huge.
REASER: I think, I hope so. I mean it feels like it, I think people are excited.
O'BRIEN: Is it -- is it -- is it felt like a long five parts or does it feel like it's gone by -- I mean, if you think about it, like how many movies have done five parts, each one outselling the next?
REASER: It's rare. I mean this is a huge franchise. No one had any idea when we were making the first one, it was a tiny little independent movie we were shooting in Portland. No one cared and then you know one day it was completely -- like one night of this movie just changed everyone's sort of way of moving through the world. You know, it just became so huge.
O'BRIEN: How did that change your life, right? Because it went from a little independent thing to suddenly you know you're part of this giant, massive, money-making series.
REASER: For me, it didn't change that much except for that I don't wear sweatpants out as much as I would like. I would prefer to be in sweatpants most of the time.
O'BRIEN: You don't want to be in the celebrities who look like us column?
REASER: No. I've been there. And I -- it's not a good feeling.
O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about this clip that we're going to show. At one point you're giving advice to -- how to fake being human. So let's play this first, with Bella and then we'll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREENE: Irritate your eyes at first.
PETER FACINELLI, ACTOR: The main thing is not to move too fast.
REASER: Try taking a seat, crossing your legs. Maybe a tad slower.
GREENE: And blink at least three times a minute. Good.
LAUTNER: For a cartoon character.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Why do you think it's so successful? Like that's funny, right? It's not just the point of that plot moment but it's also -- there's the sense of humor that underlines this entire thing.
REASER: Well I think that the idea a vampires that are trying to act normal, that are trying to be humans I mean, that was what drew me to it. You know it's the idea that first of all, they are vegetarians, they don't eat other humans and they're trying to, you know, fit into the world. They're trying to pass as humans. That was very fun to sort of teach -- try to teach Bella how to act human.
O'BRIEN: You're a graduate of Julliard. Are there times -- and you're walking around the house, reading Shakespeare to yourself thinking, but I'm actually in the biggest money-making film and the other, you know, theater.
REASER: You know, this is strange. It's still very odd for me. I didn't expect -- you know, I went to Julliard. I studied theater, classical theater mostly is what I'm trained in. It's still so bizarre to me that this is what I'm doing, but it helps. Every bit of training, I feel like that I had actually helps. Because it's surprisingly hard to play a vampire and feel believable. You know, you want to be able to at least believe yourself.
BALDWIN: And on the business side of it for you, too, in our industry, it's going to empower you to do things that you want to do.
O'BRIEN: Whatever she wants, pretty much.
REASER: I think it helps, yes. I think it helps because people love these movies.
O'BRIEN: Congratulations. It looks like this one also will be a huge, huge success. Elizabeth Reaser with us. REASER: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Great to have you. We appreciate it.
We have to take a break. We're back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: And we are out of time. A big thank you to our panel. Thank you, Stephen, for the T-shirt.
BALDWIN: Thank you. My pleasure.
O'BRIEN: I hope your mom's charity does really, really well.
O'BRIEN: "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. We'll see everybody back here tomorrow morning. Hey Carol.