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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Talk of Compromise on Fiscal Cliff; Claims Of Voter Suppression In Florida; The Man Who Changed Baseball Forever

Aired November 27, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, with the fiscal cliff just 35 days away, congressional leaders say President Obama isn't doing enough to make a deal. Senator Mark Warner, the third wealthiest man in the Senate, OUTFRONT on tax rates and whether the president needs to take a bigger role.

Plus, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice tried to clear the air on Capitol Hill. She admits the talking points she used after the Benghazi attack were wrong. Republicans call her answers troubling.

And a former mayor spent her life taking on thugs in her town. Her fight and her life tonight are now over. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, where in the world is President Obama? It's been 11 days since he met with congressional leaders on the fiscal cliff.

And with impending doom as a lot of people describe it, just 35 days away, key lawmakers say the president hasn't worked hard enough with them to broker a deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: Rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he's back on the campaign trail presumably with the same old talking points that we're all quite familiar with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Well, now, as far as top Democrats are concerned, things haven't been going so well since that November 16th kumbaya meeting at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: We had a meeting with the four leaders up here in the White House. It went very well. The problem was that was before Thanksgiving after the election. And since that time, there's been little progress with the Republicans, which is a disappointment to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Well, the market didn't exactly like what they heard there either. The Dow lost nearly 90 points today, much of it in reaction to Harry Reid's dismal statement. I got an e-mail with it all in caps. The market is coming in on these headlines from Harry Reid, this matters.

Every word they say matters and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was on the defense today. He pointed out as he had done yesterday that the president spoke on the phone with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner over the weekend.

And besides Carney says, the president has to talk directly to the American people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is vitally important that ordinary Americans actively engage in this debate because the outcome of these negotiations and the hopeful product of these negotiations are the product that we hope emerges from these negotiations will profoundly affect their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So is the president, the missing ingredient to really nailing down a fiscal cliff deal? Could he end the drama right now if he stayed put in Washington and held a series of face-to-face meetings with Reid, McConnell, Boehner, and Pelosi?

Instead of his planned meetings at the White House this week with small business owners, business leaders and middle class Americans, not to mention a trip scheduled for Friday to Pennsylvania. A state he won by five points in the election, to sell American voters on a tax plan he has very loudly and clearly said he's already sold them on.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia sits on the Senate Budget Committee. He is a member of the Senate's bipartisan Gang of Eight. They've been working to develop a deficit reduction plan.

And Senator Warner, you've been working for years to try to come up with a plan. Let me just ask you how you feel right now. Eleven days since the president's met with congressional leaders face-to- face, do you think there needs to be more meetings like that right now?

SENATOR MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Well, I think the president is doing the right thing. He's got to make the case to Congress and make the case to the American people. Not only of the dire consequences if we go over the cliff, but actually the tremendous upside.

And one of the things we don't focus on enough, if we get a real deal, the amount of private capital that will come off the sidelines, invest in this country, we look pretty darn good compared to the faltering economy in Europe, the slowdown in China. You know, this could actually be the biggest job generator of anything that's been talked about recently.

BURNETT: One thing I'm confused by and maybe concerned by also, though, is something that you know well that the outlines of a deal are pretty clear. There are different options, there are choices, there are tweaks around the edge, but the outlines of the deal are there.

And two weeks ago, everyone was saying, Erskine Bowles came on this show, says the magic moment Washington gets serious, they're going to get it done. Two weeks later, we're hearing people like Harry Reid say really not so fast.

I mean, should we be worried? I mean, if you guys know what the parameters are and can't get it done that you're not going to get to the finish line again?

WARNER: Well, I sure hope not because it would be really extraordinarily bad for every American family. It would be bad for American business. And unlike the challenges we faced in 2008 when we had that downturn and the fed and others used, you know, basically unprecedented tools, we don't have a lot of bullets left in the proverbial gun at this point.

BURNETT: I want to ask you a couple of specifics on the tax side of things, especially because you're a former businessman. You have been incredibly successful and you come from a state, a wealthy state.

I spoke with Senator Dick Durbin, a fellow Democrat of yours obviously two weeks ago, and we were talking about a compromise. If there was a way to raise the money from the wealthy that the president wants to get from raising tax rates on people or households making over $250,000, whether there was another way to do it. Here's another clip of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: -- did an analysis saying you could cap deductions at $35,000 and have the estate tax go back to where it was and you get $1.3 trillion. You cap deductions at $25,000 and you've got $1.3 trillion. I'm simply making the point, there's a lot of ways to get there that don't involve raising tax rates, is that a compromise you'd ever consider?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Erin, you're exactly right. But I think what the president is trying to say is let's protect working families. Those making less than $250,000 a year, no tax increase for them. We can do it either through the rates or through the deductions in the code. You've given a good illustration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And what do you think about that Senator Warner. Senator Durbin making it pretty clear, he's willing to -- there's a lot of different ways to get there. Would you consider that? Ways to raise money from the wealthy without raising rates? WARNER: Erin, there are ways to get there, but I think a lot of this goes back to where you start the whole discussion from. You know, those of us who have worked on this for a long time, the Simpson/Bowles plan, which has gained a lot of attention, even our gang of six efforts, which we think improved upon the plan.

We started with the rates going back up, you use that baseline and then you work down. You can then use some of these tax reform ideas to bring the rates back down, but you basically, we need, you know, on a 10-year basis, more than $1 trillion of net new revenue.

As we think about some of the additional cuts we're going to have to make and some of the reforms to the entitlement programs. So I agree with the president, let's go ahead and bring the rates back up, but then like Simpson/Bowles, we can use a tax reform effort.

Whether it is capping tax expenditures or actually going through in a more thorough way, which might be flattening the actual tax code and eliminating some of the expenditures that may no longer be necessary.

BURNETT: Right. As you say semantics, I mean, this really is a semantics conversation, right? Because Simpson/Bowles actually says I'm going to rid of loopholes and in exchange, I'm actually going to cut the overall rate. So rates actually went down.

WARNER: They did, but where they started was where you start the baseline. What you build into your base. Where that additional -- basically $1 trillion swing is, which is not only the rates, but also allowing capital gains and dividends to go back up slightly, to go ahead and go back to the old rules around estate tax.

When we talk about rates, that's also code for a series of changes that were part of the so-called Bush tax cuts, that would take us back to the Clinton era. We can still bring them down and Simpson/Bowles and Gang of Six demonstrated that.

But where we started the discussion was in effect, with some of that money in the bank. And as someone who has looked at this every which way, and we've got to make entitlement changes, I think we need to start with that so-called old baseline, the Simpson/Bowles baseline, to get the deal done.

BURNETT: So start at 39.6 percent and then you might move it down? I mean, you might go back up, move it down --

WARNER: Simpson/Bowles has showed you can move it down. I don't think you can move it down to the high 20s. But you can move it down below 35 percent, but it will require real tradeoffs on deductions that Americans have valued.

BURNETT: Now your fellow Virginian Democrat Senator Tim Kaine. I was talking to him recently and he took issue with something the president said. He said he thought that taxes should go up not for families making over $250,000 or individuals at $200,000, but families making over $500,000. The president to this point has said he would veto an idea like that. It's a specific idea coming from one of your fellow Virginia Democrats. So what do you think?

WARNER: Well, you know, I give Tim a lot of credit for going through a campaign, putting everything on the table. But let's remember, even if we let the rates go back up for everybody above $250,000, including the capital gains and dividends, that gets you about $1 trillion in additional revenue.

The president has said what we need and I believe he's actually on the low side about $1.5 trillion, $1.6 trillion. Where are you going to get that differential? We're not going to get to energy, immigration, education, you name whatever of a topic that is important until we can get our balance sheet right.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Senator Warner, as always.

WARNER: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, explosive news out of Florida, the state's former Republican Chairman Jim Greer claims that his party passed a law that was designed -- designed everybody to squash Democratic turnout and hand Florida to Mitt Romney. Do his accusations add up?

Plus, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, she went to her critics today, tried to ease tensions. She said, look, the talking points I used after the Libya consulate attack were wrong. But tonight, Republicans say they've got more questions.

And a big win for the leader of North Korea. Kim Jong-Un, isn't he sexy?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, explosive accusations in Florida. In a scathing Palm Beach post article, the state's former Republican Chairman Jim Greer claims that his party passed a law that was designed to squelch Democratic turnout and give Florida to Mitt Romney.

All right, now let me just explain here. The law mainly cut down on the number of early voting days and it made it harder for voters who had moved to actually cast ballots.

Now the Republican Party of Florida has responded and they tell OUTFRONT, I want to quote them here, "Jim Greer's claims are false and details keep changing."

OUTFRONT, Roland Martin, CNN contributor and Noelle Nikpour, Republican strategist and columnist for the "Sun Sentinel." Great to have both of you. Roland, let me start with you though.

These accusations come from Jim Greer as we said, former boss of the party. He is accused of stealing money from the party. They also though, the same accusations are similar ones come from Charlie Crist who abandoned the party to run as an independent.

And now he is rumored to be about to run for governor as a Democrat. So all that context is important, are these claims credible, though?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: For two years, I've been blasting these efforts in Florida as outright voter suppression and it is no shock to me that you're actually hearing this. It goes beyond just shortening early voting days.

Remember, they got rid of voting on Sunday. Now, in a country where you want more people voting, why would you take away a day when people would say, no need to go to the polls on Tuesday, I can actually vote on that particular Sunday.

BURNETT: Well, I don't know why we vote on a Tuesday other side --

MARTIN: -- those churches that were voting in mass, as well. We saw this in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Texas, and I said point-blank, on cnn.com I wrote a piece. The Republicans helped turnout because they ticked off a lot of black voters, Hispanic voters, young voters, senior citizens by trying to suppress the vote. It was an idiotic thing to do and they paid the price for it.

BURNETT: Noelle, let me ask you a question here because we're talking about Florida, but I just wanted to play what now is an infamous sound bite from the majority leader of the Pennsylvania State Congress. Mike Turzai is his name. This was a direct voter I.D. law, and here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TURZAI, MAJORITY LEADER, PENNSYLVANIA STATE HOUSE: Voter I.D., which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right, obviously a sound bite, I'm sure he probably regrets saying, but that was what he thought. So do you admit there are bad apples in the party? But there are Republicans who do think that these laws will (inaudible) Democratic turnout.

NOELLE NIKPOUR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: As with in any party, you're going to have fraud, you're going to have people that, you know, are bad apples, like you said.

But you've got to admit, these allegations that came up saying that, you know, that we suppressed, you know, votes are coming from an ex-governor who was a Republican switched over independent, is going to run as a Democrat against Rick Scott who implemented this law.

And you've got a guy who is a convicted felon, stealing money that's basically going to say anything. There was nobody that said in any meeting and said we're trying to suppress minorities and blacks from voting. They did this to save money for the states, for Florida.

MARTIN: Not buying it one second. Because you look at what took place in Florida and other states, they can't even explain because the first thing was, well, I heard save money. Then I heard, well, it also was a lot of people who worked the polls, opportunity to take a rest, in terms of voting on weekends and on Sundays.

It all made no sense whatsoever. And so it was a targeted effort that was replicated in many other states across the country because they were following the lead of Florida. And it backfired on election night, even after we called election for President Obama.

There were people standing in the rain in Florida who were saying I'm not leaving this line, hold the line because we're going to make sure our vote was cast. I'm telling you, Erin, the Obama campaign was worried about voter turnout. A lot of people were so ticked off because of voter suppression. That pushed them over the edge.

NIKPOUR: Do you not remember when ACORN registered voters with all this fraud --

MARTIN: They were caught.

NIKPOUR: They were caught, but this is going to save states money, not only that, Florida is going to save them money, that's why Rick Scott did this.

MARTIN: You said --

NIKPOUR: It's called HR1335.

MARTIN: You said voter fraud. The guy from Pennsylvania, when they had the lawsuit in court, they filed documents, the attorney general said we have no evidence of voter fraud.

Even if we have the voter I.D., it would not even stop the potential voter fraud. So they claimed voter fraud, but they don't have any evidence of it. And the ACORN piece, they were caught by the existing system. So if they were caught, how can they say voter fraud?

BURNETT: Does Noelle have a point it's saving money?

MARTIN: Here's the deal, I totally get we talk about saving money. But if there's one thing we should be paying for is to have more citizens out there actually voting, especially in the presidential election when it's every four years.

Part of the problem here is you have all of these different state rules as opposed to a federal standard when it comes to these various elections. Well, Florida was doing, they can try all they want to, but that was clear effort to suppress the vote and it backfired. Romney didn't even win the state.

NIKPOUR: It's easy to pin this on the GOP because the GOP has a reputation of being like -- that we're not -- we're a country club. We're like an elitist organization --

MARTIN: I'm basing it upon the facts.

NIKPOUR: Here's the deal. Go ahead and say that the GOP, that the Florida GOP, that's their mission. It's not and it's easy to pin that on us when that's what you're saying.

MARTIN: I have asked Republicans across the country give me one example of trying to expand the right to vote or access to the ballot across the country. I have yet to hear them give me one example, 50 states.

NIKPOUR: Saving money, what does that have to do with suppressing black voters or minority voters? Saving money, that's for everyone.

MARTIN: But if you talk about an election where you want more people voting, then you can say we know it's every four years, you set money aside.

NIKPOUR: What about the third party voting? When you go to a mall or somewhere that's not a specific polling place to register and it takes now -- now with Rick Scott, what the governor did, it takes 48 hours. It's before you could sit on these papers for a very long time --

MARTIN: And that particular law caused -- and rock the vote and that also was an effort, again, to --

NIKPOUR: That was very biased.

MARTIN: Wow. Rock the vote is biased, are they biased? OK, just checking.

BURNETT: I'm sure this conversation will continue when you all leave the set. All right, thanks to both.

OUTFRONT next, baseball players like A-Rod make more money than they should. Wait, it said hundreds of millions of dollars. Whether they know it or not, they have one man to thank for those incredibly fat paychecks.

And the woman at the center of the Petraeus sex scandal, Paula Broadwell her name has become synonymous with sex, lies, and spies. What she plans to do with her newfound notoriety.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, big bucks and baseball. Look at the three highest paid baseball players in America, A-Rod of the New York Yankees, $275 million for 10 years. I mean, you know how possible it is to protect the federal budget over 10 years never mind the performance of a player who can get injured.

Yes, somebody is responsible for these sick contracts. Joe Mauer, the Minnesota Twins $184 million for eight years, and Derek Jeter, I'm a little fan of Derek, three-year contract for $51 million. But there is a guy who is responsible for that.

Baseball is big business and the man who has done more than anything else for that died today, Marvin Miller, an unlikely revolutionary. He was the players' first union chief, and A-Rod owes him.

John Avlon is OUTFRONT. John, you've been looking into the legacy of Marvin Miller, and he's loved and hated figure.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's a very controversial figure, but Marvin Miller did more to transform the national pass time than anyone and never wore a uniform. Here's how, he brought free agency to baseball.

It's one of the great ironies that this union lawyer did more to advance individual competition and grow the game into a modern big business than anybody else. And Erin, I love baseball. So I'm bias, but it's a game of statistics.

Check out this one statistic. When Marvin Miller came in as the players union chief, the average salary was $7,000 a year, now the average salary is $3.4 million a year. That's market at work. That is directly Marvin Miller's innovation. Free agency leaving all those contracts we saw, strikes, big tickets --

BURNETT: Some of those contracts make me sort of nauseous. It's a free market, but still, a little nauseating at times.

AVLON: A little nauseating, but an amazing achievement that one man achieved.

BURNETT: Now, it is. Now tell me, he's been blocked by owners from the hall of fame, even though you're saying this is the man who literally created modern baseball as you love it or loathe it right now.

AVLON: That's exactly right. This is the great injustice. That Marvin Miller was denied entry to the hall of fame. Most recently the vote came in 2010. The owners still resent his intrusion into the game that they had controlled.

He took on their exemption from any trust legislation. He challenged them in court over 10 years the reserve clause with Kurt Flood that went all the way up to the Supreme Court.

He brought free agency, the irony, of course, is that that the guy who -- the owners hated did more to build the business and inject competition than anybody else. Marvin Miller, a historic figure whether you love him or loathe him deserves to be remembered and honored tonight.

BURNETT: All right, and we do that. Certainly, a responsible fellow with an incredible achievement. Thanks so much to John.

And still to come, Susan Rice answers her critics on Capitol Hill today. All right, she admitted the talking points she used after the Benghazi attack were wrong. Republicans aren't satisfied. Is it time for them to back off?

What does it mean to be a mother? A judge had to make this incredibly controversial call. That ruling OUTFRONT next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

We start with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the front lines.

First, protesters took to the streets of Cairo today after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi basically stood by his decision to grant himself sweeping presidential powers and eliminate the judiciary. Demonstrators called on Morsi to roll back his decree or resign. At least one person died in clashes with police.

Over in the city of Mahalla, demonstrators stormed the headquarters of a party backed by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. A spokesman for the interior ministry says the building was destroyed. There were dozens of injuries.

Well, 213-foot crane caught fire, it partially collapsed. This was on to a university building in Sydney today. Fire officials say the crane was carrying 264 gallons of diesel fuel, flames went 32 feet into the air. Now, no one was injured according to the operator Lend Lease.

I wanted to mention that name because it might sound familiar. There's a reason for that. Lend Lease is the same company that operated the crane that partially collapsed in New York City during superstorm Sandy. The company is still in the process of reviewing that incident.

Well, for the first time since his arrest two years ago, Army Private Bradley Manning is expected to take the stand in a pretrial hearing this week. Now, Manning is accused of leaking thousands of classified military and State Department documents while serving in Iraq, many of which wound up on the WikiLeaks Web site.

Manning's attorneys are trying to get the case thrown out, saying he was mistreated while in military custody. But the Pentagon insists Manning was held in accordance with the rules. If convicted, Manning faces life in prison.

And in the Democratic Republic of the Congo tonight, the rebel group known as M23 defied a call from regional leaders to withdraw from the city of Goma. They say they're going to remain in control of the city until their demands are met. Those demands including releasing political prisoners and dismissing the National Election Commission.

The Congo information minister tells CNN the M23 response, I want to quote them there, was really childless. Residents meanwhile fear they'll be caught in the cross-fire, and what's been happening there and some of the atrocities are hard to imagine. Former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole has been hospitalized. An aide says Dole self-checked into Walter Reed for a routine procedure and will be discharged tomorrow. They say the former senator is doing very well.

There were questions raised about his health today after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated on the floor that Dole was at Walter Reed for something more than a check-up, described to him as infirm and talked about his love for him.

Well, it has been 481 days since this country lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, OK, the fiscal cliff, the disaster has not been resolved. But there were some good news today. Consumer confidence hit a four- year high. September home prices were up 3 percent from a year ago.

And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: Coming clean on Benghazi.

So, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, went to Capitol Hill today to clear the air. She said, look, the talking points I used after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya were wrong. She met with three of her most outspoken critics, Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte to set the record straight.

Now, you've probably know this by now, but Rice had gone on five Sunday talk shows days after the attack and called it a spontaneous demonstration sparked by an anti-Muslim film and did not mention the link to al Qaeda. Now, after all this taking on her critics, the Republican senators weren't impressed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLIAN: Bottom line: I'm more disturbed now than I was before that the 16 September explanation about how four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya, by Ambassador Rice, I think does not do justice to the reality at the time and in hindsight clearly was completely wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Rice maintains she did nothing wrong. Issuing a statement saying, "We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage of this process."

Peter Brookes is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. General Wesley Clark is the former NATO supreme allied commander, and, of course, former Democratic presidential candidate.

Great to see both of you.

Peter, let me start with you. Senator McCain was asked: who do you blame more at this point, Ambassador Rice or President Obama? He said the president is ultimately responsible.

So, do you agree this is no longer about Susan Rice? That she has -- she has cleared the air about her name?

PETER BROOKES, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I don't think so. I mean, I'll let the senator speak for himself, I wasn't in that meeting behind closed doors today. But her coming forth with the mea culpa about didn't satisfy these three senators, and I'm not sure if there are other senators out there who were not satisfied with it.

She keeps her current job at the U.N. The question is, Erin, of course, is if the president nominates her to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, how the Senate will feel about that at that time.

BURNETT: General Clark, how should they feel about that? Should he go ahead and nominate her?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, 2004: Yes, I think she's a very effective and very loyal public servant. I've worked with Susan since 1994. She's honest. She's straightforward. She has America's best interest at heart. She's a person who gives 100 percent to the job and to the country.

I think she'd be an outstanding secretary of state. I think he should nominate her. I don't think there's anything behind this.

Now, I've looked at this from the beginning. I've been on your show a couple of times about it. I've followed all the information out in public.

I don't think there's anything behind it other than a political snowball that got started pre-election.

BURNETT: Was she too loyal to go ahead with those talking points if she had questions?

CLARK: No, I don't think she was too loyal.

Look, when you're on the press, you're not going to release classified information. It's clear there was some CIA activity there. What exactly it was and what the CIA's told involvement was, why there was a consulate there, wasn't even a consulate. It didn't do normal consulate duties.

What was it all about?

BURNETT: Right.

CLARK: By won't know until the investigation is completed and is released.

BURNETT: And that takes time.

Senator Ayotte said after today's meeting that when you're an ambassador to the United Nations -- I want to get both of your thoughts on this. But, Peter, you first.

She said, look, you go well unclassified -- beyond, I'm sorry, unclassified talking points in your daily preparation responsibilities. I guess the implication being that she would have been aware of other things that were different or contradicted directly to what she actually went and said on television. Does this cast any doubt on her story?

I mean, General Clark has made what I've heard from everybody who knows her that she is an incredibly honest and forthright person.

BROOKES: Well, I think there's a bigger question here, Erin, and that's the credibility of the administration on these national security issues and whether they politicized a national security issue that led to the death of four Americans.

I mean, I do -- I don't agree that the American people were not misled on this. I don't know how five days afterwards, a senior official -- first of all, I don't understand why Susan Rice was in that chair as opposed to Hillary Clinton as U.N. ambassador. She had nothing to do with what happened in Benghazi.

But besides that, you know, the issue here is, you know, why did they tell us what they told us? Why were they so sure so soon and now so wrong? We don't even hear anybody talking about the video. And the State Department investigation won't get at what the administration told us about -- about Benghazi. It'll get at why Benghazi happened, the security issues, did they have enough security, et cetera, how this ambassador died.

So, there's a lot of issues out here, and credibility is number one.

BURNETT: General Clark, what about the point that Peter just raised? Why was Susan Rice put out there?

CLARK: I think --

BURNETT: Is it possibly because Hillary Clinton knew more than she was allowed to say?

CLARK: No, I suspect that Hillary Clinton was either out of the country or wanted a Sunday morning where she didn't have to go on television five times. It's -- you know, when you're working inside the administration, it's seven days a week, it's nonstop, there's a crisis every hour, somebody's always calling --

BURNETT: We know there were substantial revisions to the bullet points. So presumably, some people had seen the unrevised version. Which included the al Qaeda link and other things, right?

CLARK: She may have seen it. But if it was classified, she's not going to go out there and expose it. She's going to relay what the intelligence community says, this is what's safe to say.

Now, you can go back and say, well, the intelligence community shouldn't have tried to protect the fact that we knew it was al Qaeda or al Qaeda involvement.

BURNETT: Right.

CLARK: They shouldn't have tried to do that. That's an intelligence community judgment.

So, somebody else -- you know the director of national intelligence, the director of the CIA, somebody on that staff, has to answer for that. That's not Susan's problem.

Susan is out there and she's authorized what to say.

BROOKES: Erin, but, you know, of course --

CLARK: The administration always has an early morning phone call on Sunday. They go over what the issues are and basically, you're told here's what you can say in an unclassified way.

BROOKES: Yes. Erin, I think there's a problem here. First of all, they could have told us that there were other potential scenarios out there instead of telling us it was related to a video and it was a demonstration, which both turned out to be completely wrong now.

So I think they could have come out, they could have been more cautious and said, there's a lot of possibilities out here. And this is one of them that we're looking at, you know, the video and the demonstration.

But I think they really did not want to say on September 11th that an American sovereign territory had been attacked by an al Qaeda organization.

BURNETT: Maybe, General Clark, they should have said we don't know as opposed to saying one version. Hindsight, they should have done it differently?

CLARK: You know, hindsight's always perfect.

BURNETT: Yes.

CLARK: And when you're looking at something like this and you weigh it against the full range of issues the United States is facing between the fiscal cliff and Iran and Syria and a lot of other things, you can't justify the amount of partisan heat that's gone into this issue on what Susan Rice said. So there has to be something behind it. But beyond getting at the facts --

BURNETT: Right.

CLARK: -- this is an attack on the administration, it's got partisan motives and you have to ask, why is it? Because there were no consequences of having said what they said. People didn't say, oh, well, I'm going to vote for the administration because there was just a demonstration that caused this. I wouldn't vote for them if they were actually attacked by al Qaeda? Come on, that doesn't make sense.

BURNETT: All right. Well, certainly, it has become partisan, which is a big tragedy about the whole thing, I think we can agree. CLARK: It is.

BURNETT: Thanks to both of you. We appreciate it, General Clark and Peter Brookes.

And now to an OUTFRONT update on a story we've been following in Texas. And I want to explain this. It's an ugly custody battle that's defining what motherhood means. We told you first about this in September.

Cindy Close and her friend Marvin McMurray agreed to have a child together. What they used was his sperm and donated eggs. Then Close became pregnant with twins through in vitro fertilization. But after twins were born in July, Close says McMurray revealed to her that he was gay, told her you're just a surrogate and demanded custody of the children. All right?

Now, keep in mind, they're his biological children even though she carried them. She was not the biological mother.

And now, a Houston judge has ruled Cindy Close is indeed the mother by law of the twins, not just a surrogate.

OUTFRONT tonight, David Mattingly, who has been following this case. I mean, this is a pretty fascinating case. I mean, how did the judge make the ruling that she's the mother when she's not the biological mother?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, she is not the biological mother, but she did give birth to these children. And Texas law may have been on her side here because the law is fairly explicit when it comes to surrogacy issues.

It says that the intended parents of the child or children have to be married. There was no marriage in this case. Also, there has to be a surrogacy agreement that has to be approved by the court ahead of time. There was nothing written there. There was no legal agreement between the two.

So when the children were born, she gave birth to them and she had every bit of standing according to the court to be declared the mother here.

BURNETT: So you're saying in some cases, where parents might be watching this and be terrified. But if you have an agreement that says how it's going to be, this ruling might -- wouldn't have come down the way this came down.

MATTINGLY: That's right. Texas is very explicit in what kind of rules they have here. And they didn't follow the rules here. So, no one had solid legal standing when it came to declare who was going to take custody of these children.

But, even though the father was trying to declare that she was the surrogate, he was able to prove without a doubt that he was the biological father here. So in the interim, when the children left the hospital, they left in his custody. So they have been in his custody since then.

BURNETT: So she's now the mother, according to Texas law, but what about custody? She wants custody, as well. What happens on that?

MATTINGLY: That's right. Now that she's the mother, she can fight for custody of these children. And here, this fight could go either way.

She is arguing that she should have custody of these children because she did give birth and that she is the legal mother now. But the father is challenging that ruling by the judge, hoping to appeal the fact that she is legally the mother here. So that, in itself, is still up in the air.

In the meantime, she's only been able to see these children for a couple of hours a day. Her attorney hopes to get some sort of temporary agreement in place where she can perhaps take the children out in her own custody away from the house and spend some private time with them on her own terms, now that she is declared the mother. But that has to be worked out while all these other things are going on, as well. So this case is still very complicated, and a lot of people watching this.

Cindy Close all along has been saying that this may help define what a mother is in the eyes of the law. There are some people who disagree with her, saying that this case was not about motherhood at all.

But at the very bottom here, this is a very complicated case, with a very, very complicated case of custody now looming in front of both of the legal parents.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to you, David.

Well, Paula Broadwell, she's now on the cover of "People" magazine. The cover says "Sex, Lies & Spies." All right. It sounds salacious, but Paula Broadwell has a future, and we're going to tell you what her plans are for that coming up OUTFRONT.

And for years, thugs tried to kill the former mayor of a town. She remained defiant. She did not give up in the face of threats and gunshot wounds to her body. Her fight and her life have come to an end. That story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We are back with tonight's "Outer Circle" where we reach out to our sources around the world.

And tonight, we go to Mexico where for years, the former mayor of a small town rose up in defiance of the thugs who tried to kill her. The thugs -- they live in an area that's been riddled with drug- related violence. But this month, those who wanted her dead finally prevailed. They kidnapped her while she drove her daughter to school, and last week her body was found. Rafael Romo has the story and I asked him what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Erin, she was kidnapped on a busy street during the morning rush hour as terrified onlookers watched the scene unfold. Maria Santos Gorrostieta was driving her young daughter to school when they were stopped by armed men. The 36-year-old former mayor was taken away by force as her daughter cried hysterically.

Mexican officials say she was found three days later with her hands tied behind her back and a severe blow to the back of her head. Maria Santos Gorrostieta who was also a medical doctor was the mayor of a small community in the western Mexican state of Michoacan from 2008 to 2011.

This was the third time she was a victim of an attack. During the first attack in 2009, her husband was shot and killed, but she survived serious gunshot wounds. She survived by her three children and her second husband -- Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: An awful story. Thanks to Rafael.

And now to the West Bank where the body of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat was exhumed for a brief time today. Forensic investigators took samples from his body to figure out whether he died of natural causes eight years ago or whether, as his widow believes, he was poisoned.

Fred Pleitgen is in Ramallah and I asked him how Palestinians are reacting to the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin, the whole process of the exhumation of Yasser Arafat's body, of course, was very emotional for many Palestinians. There was a flower laying ceremony after everything was finished. The whole process only took a couple of hours.

And what the scientists from Russia, France, and Switzerland and also Palestinian doctors did was they opened the grave, they then took samples. They didn't even have to extract the body to do that. And then they resealed it again.

Now, those samples are now going to be independently verified and analyzed in labs in Russia, Switzerland, as well as France. And what the Palestinians are telling us is that they believe they'll get results in about three months' time. Now, of course, if polonium is found in Arafat's remains, it would probably cause an uproar in the Palestinian territory.

Of course, for a long time, the Palestinians have been saying that Israel poisoned the Palestinian leader. Israel is not even willing to comment on that. But even if no poison is found, it's hardly going to lay to rest the rumors that Yasser Arafat was killed -- Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: Paula Broadwell's next chapter.

She has become a tabloid sensation, the woman whose relationship brought down General David Petraeus, ending the CIA director's storied career. She even made the cover of this week's "People" magazine, "Sex, Lies & Spies". Yes, it's a great picture. But not a picture she ever wanted to see.

So how is Broadwell handling her new spotlight and what is her next move?

Suzanne Kelly is our intelligence correspondent and she spoke with Broadwell's brother today.

And, Suzanne, what did he have to say?

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we are told by Steve Kranz that Paula Broadwell is really focused on restoring the trust between her and her husband, and on trying to protect their two sons from all the publicity that has come along with the public outing of her affair.

Now, they have put out very different images from the one you just showed. These are being seen first here on CNN. As I said, they are very different from what we have seen until now. Generally, those images in tighter outfits, shorter dresses, out the door -- these pictures that her family is putting out are far different, portraying her in her role as a mother and book author.

BURNETT: These are pretty amazing -- pretty amazing to see. And they -- I mean, she obviously authorized her brother to do this, right? I mean, she wants him to put these pictures out, right?

KELLY: Well, we don't really know for sure how much she is handling the media presentation of her. We know that she's hired a D.C.-based public relations firm, a very high powered firm here in Washington, to help her sort of manage all the media interest in her. She has also hired a lawyer because as you know, Erin, there is still that ongoing FBI investigation looking into what classified materials she had --

BURNETT: Right.

KELLY: -- and how she was handling them.

Now, a person close to her says that is still very much on her mind. So I wouldn't expect for her to really go out there on her own directly until that is maybe a little closer to being resolved.

BURNETT: It's got to be a terrifying thing, and a lot on hold until she gets answers on that. But what is her next move?

KELLY: You know, I think the next thing she really has to focus on right now according to her friends is fixing the issues with her family, the lack of trust, trying to protect her sons.

You know, I talked to her brother today. And he said she's really not that focused right now on her career so much, or her future, which is bound to be affected much more than that of David Petraeus in terms of -- David Petraeus, according to his friends, is going to have an easier time overcoming this because people knew who he was. He had a professional track record. He has something to stand on.

Whereas a lot of the country is just getting to know Paula Broadwell for the first time through this scandal and this story, which means, you know, according to her friends, it's going to be much harder for her moving forward.

BURNETT: Yes, it is. Let me ask about Jill Kelley, because -- obviously, she's the other woman at the center of this scandal. I know there was -- trying to always come up with what the right word might be for this. But I know there was more news about her today. What did you find out?

KELLY: Yes. Well, a South Korean official says she's being stripped of her title of honorary consul. Now, as you know, a New York businessman accused her of trying to use her position to try and solicit business. That's according to the semi-official South Korean news agency.

Now, South Korean official told that news agency that it wasn't suitable for Kelley to use that title for commercial purposes. No word from Kelley on this, though, Erin.

BURNETT: No word from her. She is an interesting character, of all these characters.

All right. Thanks so much to you, Suzanne.

The president of North Korea Kim Jong-un today was named sexiest man alive. We're going to tell you why he's so sexy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Big news for North Korea. Its leader Kim Jong-un has been named the sexiest man alive. So, today, a major American media source wrote, "With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman's dream come true." Intonation all mine.

As you can imagine, the communist press was delighted to hear one of their own was selected for this honor, and China's "People Daily" ran with the story, publishing a 55-page online photo spread -- 55, everybody. That's about 54 new pictures of Kim Jong-un in his sexiest moment. Now, there's just one problem. The American media source which named Kim Jong-un the sexiest man alive was "The Onion". Now, if you don't know, "The Onion" is a newspaper and a Web site that publishes satirical stories. So, of course, it was a joke. I mean, maybe they didn't know that from the picture.

OK. Maybe it's not the first time they fooled someone. In October, Iran's top news agency reran another "Onion" story that said rural whites would rather vote for Ahmadinejad than Barack Obama.

All right. The stories are funny, but why do people keep falling for them? Maybe because for some people, it plays into a narrative they have been trying to promote.

Kim Jong-un and a lot of other world leaders are constantly trying to convince their people and the world that they are athletic, virile, sexy, powerful men who look really good on horses. Kind of weird. But, still, he really does look good on a horse.

The strangest part of the story for me is this. What happened to Kim Jong-un's wife? For months, she was trotting out for all kinds of events. She's gorgeous. We haven't seen her. Is she sick? Is she pregnant? Is he missing or is it like so many other sexiest men of the past, Kim Jong-un doesn't want the old ball and chain around anymore?

"A.C. 360" starts now.