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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Clinton Testifying on Benghazi; Interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah; Get More Sleep, Get Ahead at Work

Aired January 23, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning. It is cold. It's frigid. It's bitter. It's stinging. I'm doing my best to describe just how cold it is, freezing temperatures gripping much of the country right now even causing entire buildings to freeze over. Some say the worst is yet to come.

Plus it's the testimony that many have been waiting to hear in just an hour. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will testify under oath about the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: New this morning, a whole new take on sleeping your way to the top. Why getting a good night sleep could be good for your career.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And new details on a mystery disease found in the brains of dead NFL players, including Junior Seau. How doctors may be able to detect it sooner.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this hour: we're talking with Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, he's been very critical of the failures in Benghazi. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer will be joining us. CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is with us. And filmmaker Peter Yost is going to take us inside the world of unmanned drones.

It's Wednesday, January 23, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning: Roland Martin is with us, CNN political analyst, host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin." Chris Frates is back, reporter for "The National Journal." Connie Mack with us, former Republican congressman from the great state of Florida.

"EARLY START" co-anchor John Berman sticks around with us as well.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Takes us a whole new direction doesn't it? Our STARTING POINT this morning, though.

FMR. REP. CONNIE MACK (R), FLORIDA: Your guys campaigned against me. I mean, it's just killing me.

O'BRIEN: We'll get to that later this morning.

First, though, I want to talk about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She is facing a grilling, in just about an hour now, talking about those security failures on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Will her answers be enough with the critics though?

Foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is at the State Department this morning.

So, Jill, good morning to you. What questions are expected, and what do you think is still unanswered that people want to hear?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think one of the most recent ones, because there have been a lot of hearings, about 30 of them so far, behind closed doors as well.

But one of the new ones is a cable that shows that Ambassador Stevens, who, of course, was killed, one of the four who was killed in that attack, had urged at one point that they move that mission, where he died, move it closer to the CIA annex in Benghazi, or perhaps another location for more security. But that was turned down.

We're also told that there might be other cables, so you can look for that.

And then, I think also, you're going to -- but what from what we're hearing -- they're going to want to know what Secretary Clinton herself was doing. She was here in D.C. when it happened. Where, exactly was she, what conversations was she involved in, and what did she do specifically?

And then I think you have to talk about those talking points that come up more and more, which is Susan Rice going on TV, why didn't Secretary Clinton go on TV? There are many questions like that.

O'BRIEN: Jill Dougherty for us this morning. Thanks, Jill.

Let's get right to some of those questions, too. Let's get to congressman from Utah, Jason Chaffetz. He's the chairman of the House Oversight Committee on National Security.

Nice to see you, Congressman. Long time no see.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTHA: Good morning, good morning. Glad to be with you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. All right. Let's get right to talking about what you would like to hear if you were in a position to grill the secretary of state, because you have been pushing for answers on Benghazi for some time along time. You and I chatted about that a lot, over the last months.

What would you want to know? What do you think is left to hear? CHAFFETZ: Well, our consulate in Benghazi was bombed in April of 2011. It was bombed again in June of 2011, what did the State Department do about that? Did that rise the level of going to the president of the United States? I would think so, and I would hope so.

So what did they do knowing there were security attacks, and that the ambassador himself, the regional security officer was asking for our help, and that those things were denied.

And then in the attack itself, what did -- what was her participation? I mean, she was the one that famously ran the ad against Barack Obama, it's 3:00. The attack comes, what's he going to do?

President Clinton and Secretary Clinton were both on watch that might, and we have an ambassador was missing for something like seven hours with no assets brought in to try to relieve the attack. There are serious questions about that.

And then, of course, after the attack, why was the American public and the world misled for so long about a video that the Accountability Review Board said had nothing to do with the attack itself.

O'BRIEN: The Accountability Review Board also said this. "The board did not find that any individual U.S. government employee engaged in misconduct or willfully ignored his or her responsibilities. Did not find reasonable cause to believe that an individual breached his or her duty so as to be the subject of a recommendation for a disciplinary action."

So, they weighed in and said, listen, nothing was done willfully, and nobody should be really disciplined.

CHAFFETZ: Yes, I thought it was interesting that the Accountability Review Board, an internal review, didn't even interview Secretary Clinton. Why is it that the person in charge wasn't even asked a question by this board?

And the other thing that's deeply concerning about this review is they took 60 days, they went in there, they found more than dozens systemic failures, they had 60 recommendations, what in the world is going on at the State Department? We have four dead people and in 60 days they can't figure out what Secretary Clinton and the administration couldn't figure out in four years.

O'BRIEN: But she already said this, right? She has already said, I'm the head of the department and I take responsibility.

I'm going to play that clip for you and we'll talk on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I take responsibility. I'm in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president certainly wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That doesn't go far enough for you?

CHAFFETZ: Well, look, when your consulate is bombed twice, that doesn't rise to the level of going to the president's desk? I would think he would know within minutes that our facility was bombed. And to say that decisions were made by security personnel is absolutely and totally false.

And I think the secretary is going to get some very hard questions on that because they repeatedly asked for more assets, assets that were Department of Defense assets, that wouldn't even cost the State Department anything to implement. So --

O'BRIEN: There are some people don't expect that she's going to be grilled because of the amount of respect that people who would be --

CHAFFETZ: Sure.

O'BRIEN: -- on this panel would bring, and I think her reputation. Do you think that's a fair assessment?

CHAFFETZ: No, if she's held in high esteem. She's cleverly figured out how to limit her time before the panels at 90 minutes, which I don't the Congress should have acquiesced to. But nevertheless, yes, we have a great deal of respect for her.

But these are the questions. We have hundreds of embassies and consulates. We have thousands of people serving overseas, this push by the State Department to, quote-unquote, "normalize" as soon as quickly possible, saying that al Qaeda was on the run is not true. I mean, you see what's playing out in Algeria.

And my concern is, moving forward, we didn't actually involve these problems and that's the deep concern and question for the secretary.

O'BRIEN: Can I ask you about a quick question about the House on raising the debt ceiling for three months without the corresponding budget cuts? Is that something that you would support?

CHAFFETZ: I think they're moving in the right direction. I like what the speaker has put forward because --

O'BRIEN: That's a kind of yes or no question.

CHAFFETZ: Well, yes, I'm saying yes, I would vote for it.

O'BRIEN: OK.

CHAFFETZ: And what I want to do is I want a solution. And what we need is the Senate to actually do its job. It's been more than 1,300 days. They've got to actually pass a budget in this country, so we can get to reconciliation and work our differences out.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Jason Chaffetz joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us.

CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

Ahead this morning, we're going to talk about Secretary Clinton's testimony. It's interesting I think when they take up all the things that still are not known. There are a lot of things that have not been answered, as much as we've been discussing Benghazi.

MACK: You know, she did take responsibility, but that doesn't wipe away the fact that we need to know what happened, why it happened. Why this apparent cover up? I mean, whether you like that word or not --

O'BRIEN: Cover up is a strong word.

MACK: Whether you like that word or not, there does seem like there's been a lot of dancing around this issue and the American people haven't been told.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's unfortunate that Ambassador Rice was -- she was getting the kind of questions that frankly only Secretary Clinton really can be answer those questions because as she said, she is (INAUDIBLE) the State Department, not the ambassador.

O'BRIEN: We've got coverage live of the secretary's testimony. CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper will begin that right at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. We're going to get a preview from Wolf ahead this morning, later this hour

I want to get right to John with an update on some other stories.

BERMAN: It is a bitter, blistery, and deadly. We're talking about the cold here. Reports of four deaths link to this bitter cold snap in parts of the Upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England right now.

In Chicago, more than 300 firefighters had to fight a warehouse fire in single digit temperatures for two hours yesterday. Let's take a look what the building looks like this morning. It is covered in ice. Look at that.

Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado is at the CNN weather center in Atlanta right now, tracking this bitter chill for us. Jennifer, is it going to break any time soon?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know what? It looks like this cold spell is going to stick around for a while. And you saw that video coming out of Chicago. Keep in mind, firefighters have a really tough job there, because right now, it feels like three degrees.

You see the video of the ice covering it. Just imagine being outside trying to tackle that fire. Now, as I take you over to our graphics, we talk about the conditions out there. We're still looking at wind chill readings near minus 10 and minus 17, Duluth. And this is not going to end anytime soon.

Across the Northeast, it's the same thing. It feels like minus 25 in Montpelier, it feels like zero degrees in New York.

We do have wind chill advisory in places for parts of the Upper Midwest. That is going to last until tomorrow, and then we're also seeing it spreading into parts of New England.

Look at this. It's going to field like minus 30 to minus 40 if you're in parts of Vermont, Maine, as well as Pennsylvania, as well into New York.

Now, as we go through today, high temperatures are going to struggle to make it above freezing across many parts. For New York, high of 23, Minneapolis, high of eight, and it's going to stay cold al the way through the weekend. Temperatures are going to run about 10 to 20 degrees below average.

John, dangerously cold out there. You want to make sure everybody is bundling up if you're heading out the door. Better yet, stay to bed.

BERMAN: Thank you, Jennifer. Thanks. I think a lot of minus signs out there.

Ten minutes after the hour. Classes resume today after another shooting at a college campus. A 22-year-old man is now facing aggravated assault charges, following a shooting on a Houston campus of Lone Star College. The suspect Carlton Berry was wounded in the attack and remains hospitalized this morning. Students describe a scene of utter chaos on campus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA VASQUEZ, STUDENT AT LONE STAR COLLEGE (via telephone): All of a sudden I heard backfiring and people started running in the hallways. And few students even came to our room seeking shelter. (INAUDIBLE) everything could happen to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Two other men were shot including a maintenance worker described as an innocent bystander.

A vote on the debt ceiling happens today. House Republicans shifting strategy. You heard Jason Chaffetz talking about it. And say they do have the votes to pass a short-term debt ceiling increase today. They look for spending cuts later.

The plan would suspend the $16.4 trillion debt limit to allow the U.S. to keep borrowing money to pay its bills for the next three months and then increase the legal limit to that new debt level. In exchange, they're calling on the Senate to pass a budget by spring.

All right. The big question everyone is asking this morning: did she or didn't she? And why do we care so much?

The Marine Corps Band is backtracking this morning after first saying Beyonce did not actually sing the national anthem Monday at President Obama's public inauguration. They have now released statement, saying, quote, "No one in the Marine Band is in position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded."

Here's why it's still a mystery. There's still no comment from Beyonce.

O'BRIEN: I don't know if I care. I've been trying to decide, because Beyonce is singing, if she is lip syncing, she's lip syncing to Beyonce singing the national anthem with the Marine Corps Band.

MARTIN: Right. And also, if you look at her expression, she was actually singing. But also, let's remember, all of you folks hating on Beyonce. At the 2009 inauguration, Yo-yo Ma and others who were playing -- yes, that was a recording you heard. People near them they heard them actually playing, but what was broadcasted was a recording so.

So, get mad at Yo-Yo Ma, too. My goodness, folks. Get a life.

O'BRIEN: I think if it's (INAUDIBLE) and you're a musician, you probably want tio think about what you do.

MACK: I think it's a ridiculous story.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Still, everybody is talking about it.

MARTIN: A lot of haters out there. So, haters hate.

O'BRIEN: Also ahead this morning, we talk about sex and Sundance. A movie that's very controversial is being released at the festival. We'll take you to Park City next and Zoraida Sambolin should o talk about that.

And then, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to talk about a test that could help spot a disease in the brain of NFL players.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The Sundance Film Festival has little controversy, some films that are a little too sexy. Zoraida Sambolin has all the details. She's in park City this morning, looking at that. Good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I got to tell you, Soledad, that is an under statement calling it a little too sexy. Some folks around here are saying too much sex in the films at Sundance, but before we get to that, I want to share some really big news that's happening overnight. This could actually be one of the biggest developments at Sundance.

"The Way, Way Back" sold for a reported $10 million to Fox Search Light. It's a coming of age comedy, and it's compared to "Little Miss Sunshine," which was like the little darling of Sundance a few years ago. And listen to this, two directors won a screenwriting Oscar last year for "The Descendants."

So, you never know what's going to happen here. But that film really flew under the radar because some of all of the controversy surrounding some of the graphic sexual content in the films here. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): It's being called a sexual renaissance at Sundance, and it's causing a lot of controversy.

One of the most buzzed about films here, "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman" tells a story of a young man adrift looking for meaning in his life. He falls in love with a dangerous young woman. And what we see of their relationship has been described by one reviewer as bordering on soft core porn. The film's two stars, Evan Rachel Wood and Shia LaBeouf strongly disagree.

SHIA LABEOUF, ACTOR, "THE NECESSARY DEATH OF CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN": I think that's ridiculous.

EVAN RACHEL WOOD, ACTRESS, "THE NECESSARY DEATH OF CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN": No, it's not on the verge of pornography at all. You know, it's love making. These are two people that are in love.

LABEOUF: Yes.

WOOD: You know, we're not doing anything risky. We're doing something that's very honest, you know?

LABEOUF: -- sex is much of a communication as a communication, you know, with words.

SAMBOLIN: Actor and director, James Franco, is exploring sexual themes in films with a provocative titles "Kink" and "Interior Leather Bar." And appears on a third portraying Hugh Hefner in a move about Linda Lovelace whose role in the 1972 film, "Deep Throat," was designed to appeal to a mainstream audience. Amanda Seyfried is cast as Lovelace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You made me beautiful.

SAMBOLIN: And then there's "Kill Your Darlings" with another big name star, Daniel Radcliffe, playing beat era poet, Allen Ginsberg, in a movie about homicide and what Radcliffe describes as young love in whatever form it takes.

Some argue it's too much sex at Sundance and too explicit, but festival founder, Robert Redford said it's all part of an evolution. ROBERT REDFORD, FOUNDER OF THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: It's not sex per se, it's that it's about relations and how they've changed because of the pressures of changing times (ph).

WOOD: Pornography is something that inspires sexual thought that with no artistic merit, you know, and that's every commercial on TV. So, I think, ours has some (ph) artistic manner.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): And we have some other new developments that happened. You know that Daniel Radcliffe film that we mentioned there, "Kill Your Darlings," that actually just debuted here, and it was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. So, there is an extremely graphic sex scene and there is a gay sex scene that Radcliffe, you know, was a part of.

And, you know, when he was asked about it, he said, what's the big deal? You know, we have been seeing straight gays -- straight sex in films forever, so why is this creating such a controversy? But that's his response, and you know, that's -- the one question that everybody was asking him about right after the film debuted is that particular scene. Pretty graphic, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Zoraida, thank you. Do you think it's not sex per se is the new I only do nude scenes if it really feels like it's artistically relevant for the film? I mean, everybody has their reason --

MARTIN: Plus, the very white music (ph) be all good. I mean, look, it's amazing how we really are afraid of sex in this country and people get freaked out, oh my God, and we're talking about that. How do you think all these kids are running around? I'm just saying. I see --

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: How many kids you got, Soledad?

O'BRIEN: I have a lot of kids.

MARTIN: Thank you. John, how many kids you got?

O'BRIEN: All immaculate conception, I have to point.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: I don't have any kids, but trust me, we do have quite few.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: And with that -- and with that, I'm going to take the show back if I can and move on. Turning to sleeping in your way to the top. Yes. I'm not joking. They say, catch up on your Z's. We'll tell you why getting sleep is good for your career. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

In today's "Smart is the New Rich," five-year highs for stocks and for home sales. Let's start with stocks. The Dow and the S&P 500 both closing at the highest levels since December 2007. Markets getting a boost from strong corporate earnings. And home sales in December rose nearly 13 percent from a year ago. The chief economist at real estate tracker Zillow says this recovery is real.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAN HUMPHRIES, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ZILLOW: So, you pair a resent home prices with mortgage rates and you really have incredibly high affordability and that is definitely driving a lot of buyers to get off the fence and actually buy homes and that's why we're seeing price spikes in a lot of these markets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Mortgage rates are expected to stay below four percent for the first half of the year. Right now, the 30-year fixed rate is 3.38 percent. Look at the 15-year. That's a popular refinancing tool, 2.66 percent. And homes for sale aren't languishing quite so long on the market. It takes about 73 days to find a buyer. That's down from 99 days a year ago.

All right. This is a whole new take on sleeping your way to the top. People who get more sleep get ahead at work. That's right. More sleep is good for your career. The CDC says about 40 million workers, about 30 percent of us, don't get enough sleep. And Harvard Medical School says that costs companies $63 billion a year in loss productivity.

Not because you stay home, it's because you come to work and you're horrible. Growing listed companies are pushing healthier sleep habit habits to make up some of that cost. Programs range from -- Soledad, don't --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: That's right. When we come to work, and you know what we do, we surf more than we should because we're kind of out of it --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: And people -- nine percent of people fall asleep. They fall asleep in meetings.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Because they have horrible meetings.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: But you know the stress hormone cortisol, right, is correlated to how much you sleep. So, I think, also, it makes people unhealthier. There's real correlation to bad health and lack of sleep. Guess what, if you don't have to get up at three o'clock in the morning --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Yes, I am a little grumpy. I accept that.

MARTIN: You're the official party pooper with some of this stuff.

ROMANS: You know, I am. No, I'm telling everyone to go home and go to sleep more --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Sleeping your way to the top.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Right. You say sleep more, I say have sex more. And hey, it's all together.

O'BRIEN: Moving on.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We're going to talk this morning about what seriously could be --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: -- what could be --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: -- what could be a breakthrough -- we're all getting out of control here -- a breakthrough in the devastating problem of head injuries for football players. We've been talking about this, but literally, for years now. And then, of course, with Junior Seau, even more. Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has details about a new study on this.

And then, an upset at the Australian Open. Serena Williams is out, and while she's not happy about it, we'll tell you (INAUDIBLE) and that could really be the bigger story. That's ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back. You're watching STARTING POINT. This morning, we're talking about a possible medical breakthrough that could help injured NFL athletes with CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta. That's straight ahead this morning.

And CNN's "SITUATION ROOM" host, Wolf Blitzer, will join us live with a preview of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony on that attack on Benghazi. That hearing starts in just 30 minutes.

First, though, I want to get right to John Berman for an update on the today's top stories.

BERMAN: So, have you stepped outside yet today? You may want to think before you do. Bitter cold temperatures from the upper Midwest to the mid-Atlantic and New England, the coldest so far this winter, and in some places, the coldest temperatures in two years.

It feels like single digits in Washington D.C., near zero in New York City, and well below zero in Fargo, North Dakota. This arctic blast is reportedly blamed for at least four deaths, so far.

So, with the temperatures down to seven degrees, more than 300 Chicago firefighters had to battle the elements along with the raging warehouse fire on the city's outside. The flames broke out around 10 o'clock inside an empty warehouse on South Ashland Avenue, and then spread to another building.