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More Backlash For Rice Over Libya; The M23 Movement in Goma; Ending Violence in the DRC
Aired November 28, 2012 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. BOB CORKER, (R-TN) FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: So, again, I'm going to put that aside for a moment. I know that the reason this has caught such a -- you know, this has caused such interest by all is that there's a potential for nominations and some of the people that, you know, have been a part of what was disappointing regarding Benghazi have been mentioned.
I know that at some point, I may play a semi-important role in who the next Secretary of State may be. I would just ask the President to step back for a moment and realize that all of us here hold the Secretary of State to a very different standard than most Cabinet members.
There's a handful of people that the President surrounds himself with that all of us hold to a very different level and the Secretary of State, no doubt, is one of those.
We want someone of independence, someone that -- we understand is going to support the administration and their efforts -- but somebody who's transparent and direct and I would just ask that the President step back from all of the buzz around this particular situation and take a deep breath and decide who is the best Secretary of State for our country at this time when we have so many issues to deal with, in the Middle East and other places with other geopolitical issues that are happening around the world.
And, you know, we can all, all of us -- I know I've done it. I've lived a lifetime in business and, you know, we can become close to people and you have loyal soldiers and others.
The President is going to have to make the decision about who he nominates to be Secretary of State. Hopefully, it will be someone that is able to both show independence, but have the ability to lead this nation and lead the world through many of the difficulties that we have before us.
And when he makes that nomination, I look forward to thoroughly examining that person, looking at their credentials and making my own determination at that time when it's made.
So, with that, I really don't plan on making any more comments about who or who may not be nominated to be Secretary of State. I do look forward to weighing in heavily when the nomination is made and I thank all of you for your interest. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before you (INAUDIBLE), you said that she would be a better DNC chair than Secretary of State. Do you feel that way afterwards?
CORKER: You know, as I mentioned and I've shared this with Ambassador Rice when I was in the room, you know, I really don't plan on making any more comments. That should not be received as a positive or a negative, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't sound very positive.
CORKER: I just think -- I think -- Benghazi -- Benghazi has not been our nation's best moment. That's an understatement.
And Benghazi, on its own, deserves full and deep scrutiny and all of us hopefully will learn from it.
So, I want to put that over aside and say, look, you know, I said this -- even in spite of the comments that I have made, which I certainly -- in spite of the comments that I've made, I've said from day one whoever the nominee ends up being, obviously, I'm going to give that person a full hearing, as I always do.
And I hope the President will not allow himself to get caught up in all of the smallness of -- that's happened over the last several weeks. I hope what he'll do is step back and really think about our nation and put forth who he deems to be the very best person for the job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, after your meeting, would you say that you are more likely, less likely to vote for her?
CORKER: Well, as I mentioned, I don't plan on making any more comments about who might be secretary of the state.
I think the first person who needs to weigh in on that is going to be the President and, you know, once he makes that nomination, you know, I certainly plan on spending a lot of time with that individual and talking about a lot of other things
I mean, secretaries of state usually bring with them a history and a lot of interactions and I certainly look forward to whoever he nominates doing the same thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, when it comes to concerns about Benghazi, did you get any clarity or any sense from your conversation today that helps with those concerns?
CORKER: So, I could not be more disappointed in our nation handling ...
(END LIVE FEED)
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: That's Senator Bob Corker. You've been listening to there saying that he believes Susan Rice would make a better DNC chair than a Secretary of State. That is really suggesting that some of the statements are partisan in nature and suggesting that she was not open in her statements.
Susan Rice explaining to the Republicans why it is she gave the explanation that she did after the attack in Benghazi, clearly failing to win the support of these Republicans who she met with earlier this morning.
We're going to have much more on this developing story after a quick break.
MALVEAUX: This is a country that provides minerals for almost every mobile high-tech device around, including all our laptops and our cell phones, but right now the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa is making headlines for a much different reason.
Armed rebels calling themselves the March 23rd Movement, or M23, have taken over the city of Goma. Now, it is in the heart of an area that is rich in natural resources. Today, they promised to withdraw 12 miles outside of Goma.
David McKenzie is joining from Nairobi, Kenya, to talk a little bit about a peace deal that perhaps is under way, but you've got rebels making demands, as well. Where are we in this?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the rebels have made a long list of demands, some of them somewhat unrealistic.
They've asked for better terms of the peace deal which they are, in fact, named after. They split from the government earlier this year. They were part of the army in the Congo, Suzanne. They left around April.
Since then, they've been pushing south towards the capital of the region, Goma, and last week they came in, effectively in the end without a fight. The U.N. forces looked on, the peacekeepers they looked on as they took this key city and the government soldiers fled.
Just who are M23? Well, as I described, they used to be part of the Congolese army and many people say, including a U.N. ...
MALVEAUX: Ah, we've lost him.
I want to go to -- I want to follow up with this, actually, because we're talking about the rebel takeover of Goma really creating what is a nightmare situation on the ground for the people there. You've got U.N. officials saying 140,000 civilians have been forced from their homes, many refugees who've escaped parts of the country.
I want to bring from Lowell, Massachusetts, John Prendergast. He is co-founder of Enough Project. It is really a campaign that is trying to end the violence there.
John, what have you seen on the ground? You've got folks on the ground there trying to end this war and stop the fighting.
JOHN PRENDERGAST, CO-FOUNDER, ENOUGH PROJECT: Yeah, it's a major human humanitarian crisis there, Suzanne. You know, you have hundreds of thousands of people who are newly displaced, some going over borders, international borders, some being internally displaced deeper into the jungles of Congo.
And there are efforts under way in the region to try to bring an end to the fighting, but it doesn't yet have one of the these coordinated international peace processes that has real leverage and real international backing. Been a lot of closed-door meetings amongst some of the biggest -- the guys with the biggest guns, but it hasn't included a wider set of actors that might really be able to deal with the root causes.
MALVEAUX: So, your group, your organization is involved in really trying to bring an end to all of this, but you've got back to back wars here dating back to the '90s, millions of folks who have been killed. What can you do?
PRENDERGAST: Yeah, it is really remarkable. You know, this is the deadliest war in the world since World War II, by far, and there really is no internationally coordinated peace process.
There's no United Nations special envoy. The United States doesn't have a presidential envoy to deal with this crisis. These are low- cost initiatives that can invest in diplomatic solutions.
I think the answer is having that kind of international peace process that really brings pressure to bear on the parties, Rwanda supporting the rebels, Uganda supporting the rebels. The government in Kinshasa, the Congolese government, is creating all kinds of problems in the east as well.
So, they need to be pressured into agreeing to look at some of the root causes that have never been addressed since these cycles of violence began.
MALVEAUX: Is there anything that people can do as consumers? Because we talk about the link sometimes. You know, you have people who are suffering. You have wars that are taking place around the world. And then you have this link to technology, to the cell phones, to the minerals that come out of a place like that.
Is there anything that people can do in a real tangible way to bring peace to that area?
PRENDERGAST: Yeah, thanks for asking for that because the link between all of us who buy these products, like laptops and cell phones, and the violence is Congo is very direct.
The raw materials that power our electronics products are sourced from the Congo. And, so, a major international effort has been under -- is under way just like the blood diamonds movement a decade and a decade- and-a-half ago for Sierra Leone and Liberia, trying to bring about more transparency and to try to drive that market, that international market, that supply chain to be a more peaceful and legally developed.
So, that's really the objective. Join up in some of those efforts, those international efforts. Go on RaiseHopeForCongo.org and find out more about how individual consumers can write to companies, write to the Obama administration, write to the Congress and strengthen the efforts to try to bring about bringing transparency and legality in that supply-chain so that that will then create incentives for peace, market incentives for peace in the Congo itself.
MALVEAUX: All right, John, thank you so much. We really appreciate your efforts and your work in bringing attention to this. It's a very important story. Thanks again.
We've got a backlash that we're following on Capitol Hill. The criticism of the U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, now heating up. We're going to give you the very latest in a live report, up next.
MALVEAUX: I want to go back to Capitol Hill with Dana Bash here. We are covering a breaking news story.
And, obviously, Dana, you've been following all the ins and outs of this, but essentially the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, going before members of Congress. Specifically Republican critics, who she's trying to win over, trying to explain what she knew, what she didn't know coming out of the Benghazi attacks. And it really sounds like she is not winning over anybody, if anything. And it is somewhat surprising coming from moderates like Senator Susan Collins.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And what we just saw -- and I believe we had some of it live on air -- is the second meeting that she had today here on Capitol Hill, wrapping up with Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Now, unlike Susan Collins, he was very open about his questioning of Susan Rice before this meeting, saying that even something like she would be a better Democratic National Committee chair than Secretary of State, because he, like other Republicans, accuse her of being too political potentially for the job.
Here's what he said about just the meeting in general about what he learned about Benghazi, starting to say that he doesn't believe now that there were any heroes in the administration with regard to how they dealt with the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORKER: The American people have a healthy distrust of government. We respect our country and love it, but we have a healthy distrust of government. And I would say that everything that I've seen around Benghazi should lead people to continue to have a healthy distrust of our government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, on the key question right now, which is a political question about whether or not if Susan Rice were to be nominated by President Obama to be the next Secretary of State, if she could even get approved in the Senate. Senator Corker was very clear that he said he's not going to go there right now. He won't say yea or nay.
But he also said that he had a message for the President, which is to take a step back, think about whether or not she would be the appropriate person to be nominated. That's effectively what he said. Which, if you read between the lines is, don't nominate her.
MALVEAUX: Dana, in talking to these members of Congress and seeing how all of this has unfolded, specifically when you look at Senator Susan Collins, a moderate from Maine, what do you make of the -- Susan Rice's chances of actually even being nominated at this point, much less getting through the process with all of these unanswered questions and still criticisms?
BASH: I'll tell you, Suzanne, I was asking Democratic leadership aides in the Senate a couple of weeks ago when Republicans first started -- her chief critics, Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte, started to say that they would block her nomination. I asked these Democratic sources whether or not they thought that they could overcome that. And the answer that I got was, yes, that they just did not think it was even remotely possible for Republicans to really -- especially in the words of this one source, you know, old white men to block the nomination of an African-American woman. They just didn't think that that was plausible.
Now, a couple of weeks later, hearing from other Republicans and actually just doing the math, I'm not so sure that's true. I'm not so sure that it is true that Democrats would be able to get the votes. But, again, that's why Susan Collins' comment is so critical, because as we've talked about, she's one of the few remaining moderates. And unlike other Republicans who tend to get more political, she tries not to.
MALVEAUX: Right. Dana, I've got to let you go, because we're running out of time. Any chance that Susan Rice would come back again to talk to more Republicans or is this pretty much done, do we know?
BASH: We were told that she is going to be having several meeting. So this has only been four meetings all together.
BASH: I'm sure she would likely come back.
MALVEAUX: All right, Dana, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
We're also following other stories.
After shelling out billions of dollars in fines, the oil company now, BP, just got slapped with more tough news. It is now banned from doing any new business with the U.S. government. The announcement came with some pretty tough language as well.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALVEAUX: The U.S. government is not going to be doing any new business with the oil giant BP, at least temporarily. The reason is, this massive oil spill, as you recall, the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010. An oil rig explosion killed 11 people and released more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. The Environmental Protection Agency says that BP lacks, quote, "business integrity." BP pleaded guilty earlier this month to 11 criminal charges in the explosion in that spill. Today, the oil company said it is working with the EPA to have the contract actually -- suspension lifted.
We're also going to see what is topping the charts around the world when we return.
MALVEAUX: All right. This is my favorite section. Check out what's topping the charts around the world. In South Korea, Lee Ha Yi has the number one song. All right. It's called "1, 2, 3, 4." Lee Ha Yi is just 16 years old. Fans love her voice. She won the "K-Pop Star" reality TV singing contest in April. Good for her.