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THE SITUATION ROOM

Manti Te'o Speaks Out; Gun Control Debate; Worried Investors Punish Apple; Hillary Clinton's Legacy; Clinton's Last Hurrah On The Hill?; V.P. Enjoys High Approval Ratings

Aired January 24, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: A United States senator talks about the traumatic day she tried to find a pulse by putting her finger into the bullet hole of a colleague who had just been shot. Now she wants to ban 158 kinds of assault weapons.

Despite all the iPhones, the tablets, the iPods and a whole lot more there are out there, perhaps in your hands right now, Apple's day as a Wall Street darling potentially, potentially could be over. Wait until you hear how the stock got clobbered today and why.

And football star Manti Te'o opens up about the hoax that fooled him and the rest of the country. It's the interview so many people have been waiting for.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with a new effort to ban 158 specific assault-style weapons and prohibit other guns from using magazines containing more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Those are just two of the provisions of a bill put forward today by a United States senator whose own hands were bloodied by one of the most notorious shootings in California history.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, was over at today's emotional announcement on Capitol Hill.

Tell our viewers, Dana, how it unfolded.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, of all of the gun control measures that President Obama announced earlier this month, banning the assault weapons, at least reviving the ban, is going to be the most difficult to pass here in Congress.

Even the primary Senate sponsor says it could take years. But her determination comes from a very public tragedy four decades ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): For Dianne Feinstein, it's personal.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I became mayor as a product of assassination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. BASH: The death of her colleagues, including Harvey Milk, the first openly gay public official in America, was so traumatic, she rarely discusses it.

(on camera): You are somebody who very close to a shooting.

(voice-over): But here at the launch of her push to renew the assault weapons ban, she answered in graphic detail.

FEINSTEIN: I was the one that found Supervisor Milk's body and I was that put a finger in a bullet hole trying to get a pulse. Once you have been through one of these episodes, one you see what the crime scene is like, it isn't like the movies. It changes your view of weapons.

BASH: She put on an elaborate event, even getting special permission from D.C. and Capitol Police to display 10 different types of assault weapons, including an AR-15, the kind of rifle the shooter used to murder children in Newtown.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Assault weapons were designed for and should be used on our battlefields, not on our streets.

BASH: The proposed legislation would prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of more than 150 assault-style weapons and ban large-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition. But to appeal to gun owners, it excludes or keeps legal most handguns and 2,200 hunting and sporting rifles.

CHARLES RAMSEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE CHIEF: How are you going to go hunting with something like that? You like something, there's nothing left to eat.

BASH: Also here, family members and victims of gun massacres across the country. Lily Habtu was shot in German class at Virginia Tech.

LILY HABTU, SHOOTING VICTIM: I had a bullet still in my head. I was shot in the jaw. It's one inch -- it's one millimeter away from my brain stem.

BASH: Still, Feinstein is realistic about the slim chance this assault weapons ban has of passing.

FEINSTEIN: If anyone asks today, can you win this, the answer is, we don't know. It's so uphill.

BASH: But pushing gun control is now a White House campaign-style effort and Vice President Joe Biden held a social media town hall, a Google hangout to rally support.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make your voices heard. This outfit, this town listens when people rise up and speak.

BASH: The White House and Feinstein know their biggest hurdle is convincing skeptical fellow Democrats from gun right states to support gun control. FEINSTEIN: The message to Democrats is, see what your silence does? There will be more of these.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Feinstein also knows she is up against the powerful NRA, which released a statement, Wolf, no surprise, saying that they don't like this new assault weapons ban proposal, saying Feinstein is -- quote -- "once again focused on curtailing the Constitution, instead of prosecuting criminals or fixing our mental health system."

The statement goes on to say that, "We are confident Congress will reject Senator Feinstein's wrongheaded approach" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And just to be precise, it's not just Republicans who are going to be -- a lot of them who are going to be opposed to what Senator Feinstein is proposing. There are a whole bunch of Democrats in the Senate and the House who are going to be very nervous about it as well.

BASH: Exactly. And that's precisely what Senator Feinstein was saying there in the piece, that her message to those fellow Democrats, which they really are her first target, if you will, in terms of lobbying for her legislation, her message is, silence is really deadly.

And the number of Democrats, though, from those red states, it really is pretty big, probably more than half-a-dozen. I have talked to couple of these -- our Ted Barrett has as well -- in the hallways even today, senators from red states who say that they're just not -- they don't even think that they could go for the assault weapons ban. Universal background checks, another part of the president's proposal, that is something probably that has the most likelihood of passing, but even that's a long shot.

BLITZER: We will see what happens. Dana, thanks very much.

Other news we're following, including a dramatic new confession in a college sports scandal involving one of the best football players in the nation. Manti Te'o, the inspiring story of the Notre Dame player who kept playing despite the deaths of his grandmother and a girlfriend took a bizarre turn a few weeks ago. Te'o revealed that he had been deceived.

His girlfriend whom he met online and only spoke with by phone but still called the love of his life never actually existed. Deadspin.com revealed he was the victim of a hoax. In an interview broadcast for the first time today, Te'o tells Katie Couric he initially wasn't as forthcoming as he could have been after finding out the truth because he was embarrassed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE COURIC, ABC NEWS: Did you have any involvement in creating the scam? MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL PLAYER: No, I did not. I think what people don't realize is the same day that everybody found out about this situation, I found out.

I got the call on December 6 saying that she was alive. And from December 6 to January 16, my whole reality was that she was dead and all of a sudden she is alive. At that time, I didn't know that it was just somebody's prank.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Katie Couric also asked Te'o about the phone conversation he had with the alleged perpetrator of the hoax after it had all been revealed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: You say he later called you. What did he say to you on the phone?

TE'O: He just basically expressed and explained what he did and why he did it.

COURIC: Did he say why he did it?

TE'O: He didn't say why. He just explained that he just wanted to help people and that was his way of helping people, of being someone that he wasn't and trying to connect with somebody on a different level and help them out.

COURIC: And what did you say to him?

TE'O: Well, obviously, it didn't really help me out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We will have more excerpts from today's interview in a little bit.

But let's get a little bit more background now on this story that's the talk of much of the sports world right now, even beyond.

Our CNN national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Manti Te'o, every game, every victory led to this, January's national championships shaped and inspired in many ways by the personal tragedy months earlier of the 21-year-old college football hero.

TE'O: When I lost my girlfriend and my grandma, that was possibly the hardest time of my life.

FEYERICK: The day was September 11, 2012. Te'o learned his beloved grandmother had died. Hours later, another call, this one that his girlfriend who had apparently told him that summer she had been in a car accident and been diagnosed with cancer, she had also died.

TE'O: You know, the love of my life, the last thing she said to me was, "I love you."

FEYERICK: Te'o dedicated the season to them both. He honored his girlfriend's wishes, sending white roses and skipping the funeral to play football, as he promised. Everyone, fans, coaches, opposing teams rallied around the Hawaii native.

TE'O: To see the whole stadium, both Notre Dame and Michigan fans wearing leis, you know, that's where I just looked up and said, heavenly father, you're the man.

FEYERICK: The relationship began on Facebook. In an off-camera interview with ESPN, Te'o says he met Lennay Kekua online the winter of his freshman year. He says: "She knew a lot about me already."

He says she fell in love with this photo and a voice over a cell phone. ABC obtained this message allegedly left by Kekua the day of her fake death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to say I love you and good night and I will be OK.

FEYERICK: Te'o telling ESPN that his girlfriend said she was a Stanford graduate, one of five siblings running the family's construction business because her dad had died. Te'o says each time they tried to meet, something came up that prevented it. He never met his girlfriend.

Te'o's first face-to-face contact came with this man, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, claiming to be her cousin. He had gone to high school with the girl in the photo, the girl Te'o had fallen in love with, a girl who in reality is Diane O'Meara.

DIANE O'MEARA, IDENTITY STOLEN: He contacted me through multiple messages on Facebook, relaying that him and his cousin had been in a traumatic car accident.

FEYERICK: The story unraveled December 6, two days before the Heisman Trophy awards. Te'o says he received a call his girlfriend was still alive. He describes his shock to Katie Couric.

TE'O: What I went through is real. The feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real.

FEYERICK: At the Heisman ceremony December 8, Te'o references his girlfriend's death, keeping the story alive. Soon after, Te'o tells his coaches and Notre Dame investigates, but says nothing before the national championships.

The story breaks a week later, mid-January, and the university stands behind its player, saying Te'o was the victim of a cruel hoax.

(END VIDEOTAPE) YELLIN: Now, there was no overt red flag, but there were some signs. And Te'o was a little suspicious. He contacted friends. He asked about her, did they know her, what did they know about her? And a couple people said, yes, she does exist, but they never went into to further detail.

Also, he got suspicious when she wanted his checking account number. He actually went to the credit union where he kept his money and said, is it possible to withdraw money if you give somebody your account? They said no.

But it's a fantastic story. But every time he had a question, every time that there was a little sign that maybe this wasn't right, the person on the other end was able to answer his questions -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Deb Feyerick, thanks very, very much for that.

We're going to have more from Manti Te'o's interview with Katie Couric. That's coming up a little bit later this hour.

We will also have a recording of the voice Te'o heard on the phone, the voice he believed was his girlfriend, Lennay.

Up next, though, why Apple's stock is nosediving despite the company's record profits. What's going on?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's been another punishing day for shareholders of one of the world's best known companies. Apple stock lost more than 12 percent of its value today.

Since September, the stock has dropped 28 percent, even though the company just reported record-breaking quarterly profits.

Let's bring our own Alison Kosik. She is in New York.

Alison, what is going on here?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: First of all, what Apple did after the closing bell, Wolf, it released its report card, its earning report. And what you see when you read is that Apple basically cannibalized itself, meaning people bought lower-priced products from Apple instead of buying high-priced ones. Meaning, they bought more iPhone 4s instead of the iPhone 5. They bought the iPad mini instead of the higher price, the top of the line onces.

Still, though, let's put it in perspective, Apple reported record profits and sold 48 million iPhones in the most recent quarter. It sold almost 23 million iPads in three months and even sold 12.6 million iPods. So, that's really nothing to sneeze at.

But Wall Street, clearly, was unhappy with it. That's how you're seeing how the shares ended today, more than 12 percent lower, because part of it is the old mantra, buy low, sell high. And part of the reason that you've been seeing the stock price fall since September is because for many investors, they bought shares when they were lower and they wanted to take a profit before those higher capital gains taxes kick at the beginning of the year.

Now, what you're seeing today -- what's happening today is investors choosing to get out of the stock now because competition is becoming more of a factor. There are these quality alternatives going strong these days. I'm talking about the tablet and the smartphone arena. It's getting pretty crowded. So, what you're seeing are these brokerages cutting their price targets on Apple stock.

But, still, you know what? The average price target for stock is still around $700. So, you know, a lot of people are still sweet on Apple shares even though it plunged today, Wolf.

BLITZER: Steve Jobs died, what, about a year and a half ago. So, what does all of this say about Tim Cook's tenure as the Apple's CEO?

KOSIK: It says, you know what? You're going to get the blame, Tim Cook, because you're the CEO, the buck stops with you.

But at the same time, Wolf, he is the same guy who oversaw the blowout debut of the iPhone 4S and he is the one carried the stock price to greater heights. You look at where the stock was trading when he got into this position. It was around $375 when he took over. The price almost doubled in Tim Cook's first year in charge. It peaked in September when iPhone 5 came out. But the problem is, since then, the shares have been tumbling.

A couple of thoughts on that. For one, Wall Street and analysts don't have much confidence that he can deliver like Steve Jobs did, that he can deliver the hippest, the sexiest blockbuster devices. But then you got shareholders who one analyst tells me, they don't have him to leave, that this a really healthy company. It's got $135 billion tucked away in cash.

Now, if the next four quarters show more of what we saw last quarter, there may be a re-evaluation going on. But for now, this analyst tells me he expects Cook to stay -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Alison -- Alison Kosik, thanks very much.

Other news we're following:

In the wake of yesterday's fireworks, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was back on Capitol Hill today. But instead of taking questions, she came to praise the man who's all but certain to be taking over her job as the secretary of state, Senator John Kerry.

Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, was watching what could very well be her last public appearance before Congress, before she leaves office.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. You know, for the past few days, we've been watching her in action up on Capitol Hill. The waning days of Hillary Clinton as her tenure as secretary of state and it's time to ask the question: did she put her mark on that job?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton's last day of secretary of state is almost here.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're all getting a little emotional anticipate sentimental around here. We have about a little over a week to go in my tenure.

DOUGHERTY: That is, if the Senate, as expected, confirms her successor Senator John Kerry by then.

CLINTON: John is the right choice to carry forward the Obama administration's foreign policy and I urge his speedy confirmation.

DOUGHERTY: Before leaving, just like her first day on the job four years ago --

CLINTON: I am absolutely honored and thrilled beyond words to be here with you.

DOUGHERTY: Clinton is likely to say goodbye to the diplomat she's led and deliver a major speech on international policy. But her last days as America's high-flying top diplomat have been overshadowed by nearly a month of illness, the fallout over the deadly attack in Benghazi.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think it's inexcusable that you did not know about this and that you did not read these cables.

DOUGHERTY: And her impassioned defense.

CLINTON: What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't think it will be part of her legacy.

DOUGHERTY: Beyond Benghazi, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says Clinton did something big for America's foreign policy.

ALBRIGHT: I think she will be valued greatly for finding other parts than just military power for America the way that we use our influence.

DOUGHERTY: Others, while praising Clinton personally, charge the administration she's part of -- failed on the big international issues, like Middle East peace, Iran, and North Korea.

DANIELLE PLETKA, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: I think that the problem for Hillary Clinton and for her legacy has less to do with Hillary herself or with her competence, and has a lot to do with Barack Obama and the way he runs his administration. Basically, in his first term, the State Department had no role in the making or execution of foreign policy.

DOUGHERTY: But a former senior member of Clinton's State Department believes Hillary Clinton changed the relations in the world.

ANNA MARIE SLAUGHTER, FORMER SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: You think about climate change or global pandemics or food security or water security -- all those are issues that involve development as well as diplomacy. They require a different set of tools and Secretary Clinton understood that and has been systematically building up those tools.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY: And last week, Hillary Clinton was asked whether she's ready to retire. "I don't know if that's a word I would use," she said, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while -- which, of course, a comment that only fueled speculation that she might run for president in 2016 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This woman is not getting ready to retire, that is for sure.

All right, Jill. Thanks very much.

The Republican senator who provoked Secretary Hillary Clinton's exacerbated response yesterday tried to draw to do secretary of state nominee, John Kerry, today as well.

Let's listen to this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: It makes a big difference whether or not the American people have the confidence that the president and the administration is being truthful with them. So I guess my question is, do you agree with that point and are you willing to work with me? Or do you agree with Hillary Clinton that that's kind of yesterday's news and let's move on?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Well, Senator, if you're trying to get some daylight between me and Secretary Clinton, that's not going to happen here today on that score. But I think you're not -- I think you're talking past each other.

JOHNSON: We could be.

KERRY: I don't think that was the question. I think that if your question is, should the American people get the truth and does it matter? Hillary Clinton would say yes. And I say yes.

JOHNSON: Will you work with me then on an ongoing basis so we can get that behind us, so we can find out what actually happened, then we can move beyond that? I mean, can you just make that commitment to me?

KERRY: Well, I think, Senator, in all fairness, I think we do know what happened. I think it is very clear -- were you at the briefing with the tapes?

JOHNSON: No. KERRY: Well, there was a briefing with tapes which we all saw, those of us that went to it, which made it crystal clear. We sat for several hours with our intel folks who described to us precisely what we were seeing. We saw all of the events unfold. We have a very complete and detailed description.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Senator Kerry told Senator Johnson he does not agree with the claim that the Obama administration intentionally misled the American public about what happened at Benghazi.

Coming up, you're about to hear the voice mail left by the woman who pretended to be the football player Manti Te'o's girlfriend and his emotional response.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: An American faces a long jail sentence for his role of the deadly 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, India. Kate Bolduan is here. She's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What happened, Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So many of our viewers will remember the story, of course. I know you do as well, Wolf.

A federal court has sentenced David Headley to 32 years in prison. The 52-year-old American admitted to conducting advanced surveillance for the terrorists who carried out the deadly attack in Mumbai. A hundred and sixty-four people were killed. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in exchange for his plea. They say Headley cooperated with government efforts to fight terrorism.

Also, what's the video version of a tweet? Good question. Apparently, it is a vine. That's the new video service unveiled by Twitter today. Like tweets, vines have to be short, six seconds or less. The company says that will inspire creativity for now. Vine is only available on iPhones and certain iPads.

A soccer player in the U.K. likely faces a three-game suspension for kicking a ball -- kicking a ball boy, rather. It happened in the last few minutes of a match between Chelsea and Swansea City. The impatient Chelsea player Eden Hazard kicked the ball boy for not releasing the ball quickly enough. Uh-oh!

With the clock running and Chelsea down by two goals, every second counted, obviously. But the kick outraged fans of both teams and got him kicked out of the game. Not a surprise.

And you won't believe this video where a camera operator has a real life brush with death.

Wow. That's a bi-plane coming within two feet of filming this stunt. The clip was posted on YouTube where it's been seen 166,000 times so far. The manager of the airport where the video was made, south of Dallas, hadn't seen the video and wasn't ready to comment on it quite yet.

Talk about a close call.

BLITZER: Is that a runway there, is that what was going on?

BOLDUAN: It looks like it.

BLITZER: What were they doing on a runway?

BOLDUAN: All wonderful questions that I think people are asking right now.

BLITZER: Fortunately everyone is OK.

BOLDUAN: Fortunately everyone was OK.

BLITZER: It could have been much worse.

BOLDUAN: As we always say.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Manti Te'o has now told his side of the story. You hear him explain why he never doubted his girlfriend was real. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: College football players usually welcome exposure ahead of the NFL draft, but not Manti Te'o. The Heisman Trophy runner up may be the best known player in the country right now but for all of the wrong reasons.

We've brought together a panel to talk about Manti Te'o and the latest information coming out, including his interview with Katie Couric. Andy Staples is a senior writer for si.com, "Sports Illustrated," our sister publication in Gainesville, Florida.

Joining us from New York, Dr. Gail Saltz, she is a psychiatrist, the author of "Anatomy of a Secret Life, The Psychology of Living A Lie." Also joining us here in Washington, Eric Dezenhall, the president of Dazenhall Resources and the author of "Damage Control, Why Everything You Know About Crisis Management Is Wrong."

Let me first play you a clip. This is part of the interview, Manti Te'o's interview with Katie Couric that just aired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANTI TE'O, LINEBACKER, NOTRE DAME: The main person, there are so many similarities. She was Polynesian supposedly, Samoan, I'm Samoan. She loved her faith and she knew a lot about -- I'm Mormon and she knew a lot about that.

I found a lot of peace and a lot of comfort in being able to talk to somebody and they knew my standards, they knew my culture, they knew what is expected of me and I knew what was expected of her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the theories, many theories, Manti, making the rounds is somehow you created this whole scenario to cover up your sexual orientation. Are you gay?

TE'O: No. Far from it, far from that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you mentioned, you did try to see her in person on multiple occasions and she would always come up with an excuse as to why she couldn't meet you.

TE'O: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, as this happened repeatedly, didn't you think, there is something really fishy going on here?

TE'O: For me, I guess I was just so caught up in the whole thing that I was like, okay, she can't see me and she would give me good reasons, too. She would say, my brother has my car or you know, I'm in the hospital. I wasn't going to tell a person who just came out of a coma, you need to call and come and see me right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's start with Andy Staples from "Sports Illustrated." You interviewed Manti Te'o when he was in high school. Andy, what kind of person is he? Can you see why he might have believed this story?

ANDY STAPLES, SENIOR WRITER, SI.COM: Well, he's a devout Mormon. That was very clear from the start. In fact, the reason I met him is I was doing a story on recruits who belong to the LDS church and what challenges it poses when they are picking a college.

We knew his religion was extremely important to him. He seemed like a very nice guy, like a very thoughtful guy. That continued through college and I followed this story as well and was at the Heisman ceremony when he was talking about this stuff when apparently he had already been told it was a hoax. It's just really weird and raises a lot of questions.

BLITZER: Manti Te'o, Gail, released some of the voice mails that he said came from this person that he believed to be Lennay, the girlfriend online. Let me play a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via telephone): Hi, I'm just telling you know I got here and I'm getting ready for my first session and just want to call you to keep you posted. I miss you. I love you. Bye.

Babe, I'm just calling to say good night. I love you. I know that you're probably doing homework or you're with the boys or I want to say I love you and good night. I'll be OK tonight. I'll do my best.

Yes. So get your rest and I'll talk to you tomorrow. I love you so much. Sweet dreams. I don't know who answered your phone and I don't care. I swear on my life I'm trying. You made it clear what you want. Take care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So Gail, why do people trust in these online relationships? What causes someone to fall in love, for instance, with someone they've only had an online relationship? They've never met person to person?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: We have to realize, first of all, this is a generation that is communicating online in the way that, you know, my generation, your generation communicated in person or by voice. So, you know, for them to say they are talking to each other but it's all online it all seems the same to them.

And then, you know, a young person -- it's just not unusual for a young person to believe what they want to believe so that the idea that this person is similar to them, shares an identity, that this fits with their life, you know, you're busy. You're playing ball.

You're very absorbed in what is going on, but you want someone to be intimate with and share with and someone comes along and to say that they are like you in so many ways is really quite compelling and it's easy for us to say in retrospect, how could he believe this?

But you have to realize, he came from the other direction. Why would someone, you know, try to dupe him? Why would someone say who they were and go on in such incredible detail?

I don't think it's that shocking and denial is very powerful so when things would come up that didn't quite fit but you now feel emotionally involved, you want to believe that it's true and your mind can play that kind of trick on you.

BLITZER: Eric, let me clay another clip from Katie Couric's interview with Manti Te'o.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The "Sports Illustrated" reporter who wrote your cover story has made some of the transcript of your interview available. He asked you, quote, how did you meet her? And you responded, we met just -- she knew my cousin.

Later you told him you met at the USC game, your sophomore year, that you were just friends then. Can you see why people would view this as, at worst, as a complete lie and at best as incredibly misleading?

TE'O: I can see that. And for that, for people feeling that they are mislead, you know, that I'm sorry for. But I wasn't as forthcoming about it but I didn't lie. I never was asked, did you see her in person?

And through the embarrassment and fear of what people may think, that I was committed to this person who I didn't have the chance to meet and she all of a sudden died, now that scared me. So to avoid any further conversation, I kind of, you know, wasn't as forthcoming as I should have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aren't you splitting hairs here a little bit, Manti? Didn't you actually say things that weren't true and isn't that, in essence, lying?

TE'O: I think the biggest lie that I'm sorry for is the lie I told my dad. When I told dad, when he asked me, you did you see her and I said, no. I mean, yes, I saw her. You know, as a child, your biggest thing is to always get the approval of your parents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, so Eric, I know you deal with damage control for your clients. If he were your client, what would you tell him to do?

ERIC DEZENHALL, PRESIDENT, DEZENHALL RESOURCES: Look, the first thing that you do when you get a crisis management client is you have to look where they are on the spectrum between being a villain and being a victim. Based on what we know now, Manti Te'o is closer to being a victim.

It's not a perfect correlation, but the closer you are to being a victim, the easier it is for to you dig at. The second thing that you look at is the extent to which you have to determine what your goal is. His goal is not to impress Katie Couric. His goal is to get recruited by the NFL.

I think the sin that he committed by lying about feeling foolish, there's no question it's a sin. But there's a difference between a mortal sin. What he has to do at this stage, I think, is consider that less is more. There's no correlation between how many interviews you do and how well you do.

There does come a time, he's made his points, there's something to be said provided that the facts are going his way and they are, to let those facts emerge. The other thing is, four Washington Redskins have come out and said, something like this has happened to them. So, again, it's trending his way, which suggests that it's time for him to be quiet.

BLITZER: Let me play one more clip from Katie's interview with Manti Te'o then we'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This story was working for you. You were being considered for the Heisman trophy. It was a huge, huge deal. So did you say, this is my story and I'm sticking to it? Was there a part of you saying that?

TE'O: Part of me was saying, if you say that she's alive, what would everybody think? You know, what are you going to tell everybody who follow you, who you've inspired? What are you going to say? And at that time, on December 8th, two days after I just found out she's alive, as a 21-year-old, I wasn't ready for that. I didn't even tell my parent yet. I didn't tell anybody. The only one who knew was me.

That's all. And I felt like I could not -- I did not know who to turn to. I did not know who to tell. Did I not know who to trust? It was a big thing for me and I was scared. That's the truth. I was just scared and I didn't know what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Didn't a part of you just want to tell the truth?

TE'O: Yes. And I eventually -- I did to my parents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Andy, you were there at the Heisman Trophy award ceremony. He came in number two, as we all know. Did you ever suspect anything was wrong there?

STAPLES: No, I didn't. And, you know, a lot of reporters who weren't on the story and I didn't write the story for us, the big feature on it. You want to think, I would have gotten that. I would have done the next search or gotten that.

It's hard when you're on that deadline and they are giving you such rich detail. I mean, if you read the transcript of his interview with Pete, the detail is vivid and you think, well -- you don't even think it would be untrue.

And so right now, Manti Te'o has to deal with the fact that people feel like he misled them. It's really a no-win situation for him. At best, he's gullible and got duped and isn't very bright.

At worst, he's calculating and came up with a story to help him win awards. I don't believe it's that calculated or nefarious but there are people who do and so he's got to rebuild his image so potential people that would sign him to do endorsement deals will say, people can trust this guy again.

BLITZER: We'll see if he's drafted into the NFL. That's coming up as well. Guys, thanks very much for joining us. Gail Saltz, Andy Staples, Eric Dezenhall, appreciate it.

Manti Te'o story is unusual, but he's far from the only person to fall for all of this. In fact, he's not only the football player to have fallen for this kind of hoax.

And Hillary Clinton said her testimony was one of her most trying moments in Washington. Will it be her last, though?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's talk about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in our "Strategy Session." Joining us now two CNN contributors, the Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile and the editor-in-chief from redstate.com, Erick Erickson. Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

Five and a half hours of Q & A testimony from the secretary of state yesterday. Look at these poll numbers, Washington/"ABC News" poll, impression of Hillary Clinton, favorable, ratings, 67 percent, unfavorable, 28 percent. That's very, very high.

In contrast, Joe Biden, the vice president, his favorable rate, 48 percent, unfavorable, 37 percent. What should these numbers, Erick, tell us about 2016 in the time between now and if anything?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know that they should tell us anything, Wolf. I'm always cautious about being that far out. Remember, 2006 and 2007, Hillary Clinton was the shoe-in for the Democratic nomination.

Fast forward to 2016, if the angst remains and grows between the Democratic and Republican Party about hostility towards Washington, which the basis of both parties share for different reasons, I'm not sure Hillary or Joe are going to be the fit that the Democrats want. They might want someone from outside Washington.

BLITZER: How important was this hearing yesterday on Benghazi, Donna, for the secretary of state?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought it was very important. Mrs. Clinton has been one of the most admired women 11 times since 1993. The only time she's been topped is Mother Teresa and I don't believe you can top Mother Teresa, of course, God bless her soul.

But, you know, I thought Secretary Clinton was very clear, concise, combative at times when clearly she should have been. But she represented our country very well, represented the administration in laying out the facts yesterday clear in the air and hopefully we now know more about what happened to those four Americans as a result of her excellent testimony.

BLITZER: How important was that testimony, Erick?

ERICKSON: You know, I think it's pretty important. The Republicans still have some questions that I think were left unanswered, but she needed to testify if only because she is the secretary of state, this happened on her watch, and I'm sure she wanted to get some answers answered before she walked out the door.

BLITZER: Donna, you know, the president is really giving the vice president right now a whole lot more responsibility and certainly a whole lot more visibility. What's going on here? Do you think he, personally, the president, would like to see Joe Biden succeed him?

BRAZILE: Well, I think from day one the president has given the vice president major responsibilities. As you recall, the middle class tax force, helping with implementation of a stimulus plan and, of course, with just recently with the deal that was worked out with the Republicans on the tax cuts and hopefully the fiscal cliff.

Joe Biden is -- when it comes to Washington, D.C., he knows this city, but knows it in a way that allows him to be as effective as vice president and he's a leader. People trust him. Just recently, he met with mayors on gun safety reform.

I think Joe Biden is in an excellent position, if he chooses to run, of course, Secretary Clinton and so many other Democrats who might right now be thinking about 2016.

But for me, I'm with Erick. It's too early. I'm thinking about Super Bowl in New Orleans and I need a ticket in Mardi Gras, of course, and a costume.

BLITZER: I'm sure you won't have any trouble doing that. Erick, let's switch gears briefly for a moment. The Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg is going to be hosting a fundraiser for the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie want to be re-elected. He's the Republican. What do you make of this?

ERICKSON: You know, I think it's an interesting dynamic. Most people think of Silicon Valley is totally in locks up with the Democratic Party, but you know, often times you see someone who has lived or his family has lived in a state, you see them support the guy who they think is doing a good job.

I think it's a good sign for Governor Christie that you've got guys like Zuckerberg willing to say he is doing a good job as governor.

BLITZER: I don't think it's a good sign. I think it's a great sign. You have Mark Zuckerberg and his billions there trying to help you get re-elected. I would say from any politician's perspective --

BRAZILE: Wolf, I know he's married but he can friend me. I'll be very friendly to mark, friend me.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Manti Te'o is not alone. We have details of an apparent hoax involving football players from the Washington Redskins.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: If there's any comfort for Manti Te'o, it could be this. He is not alone. Plenty of people have been exposed to similar hoaxes including members of Washington's own football team, the Washington Redskins. CNN's Brian Todd is here. He has got this part of the story. What is this part of the story?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, according to a new report from nfl.com, a woman led several Washington Redskins players to believe she was someone who she was not. She tailored her communications with them and according to this report, even led them to try to arrange meetings with her.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): It was about the same time Manti Te'o claims he first learned his online girlfriend was phony, an indication that other high-profile football players had been Te'o'd. A memo went up in the locker room of the Washington Redskins in December.

The gist of it was, stay away from @redridnhood, avoid her on Twitter, avoid her on Instagram. Do not converse with this person on any social media platform. She is not who she claims to be. That's according to an article at nfl.com, the league's official web site, which says the memo was posted by Phillip Daniels, a former Redskins' defensive end who now the team's director of player development.

(on camera): The Redskins said Phillip Daniels was not available to speak with us and the team wouldn't put anyone out to talk to us about the players' interactions with the woman on social media. Daniels told nfl.com that on multiple occasions several Redskins' players tried to arrange meetings with the woman who the report says went by Sidney Ackerman.

(voice-over): She not only wasn't Sidney Ackerman, the report says, she also wasn't C.J. Miles, the internet adult entertainment star who's social media pictures the NFL's investigation found were ripped off and used in correspondence with the players.

There's an unverified Twitter feed registered to C.J. Miles with pictures of a similar looking woman. The tweets there warn fans that an impostor used her photos and says she feels sorry for the players who fell for the hoax.

The nfl.com report says none of the players were successful in arranging meetings with the woman who sent the tweets and that raised suspicions with the Redskins. The nfl.com sources say the woman is a Redskins fan, didn't ask the players for money or perks and didn't threaten them.

But former Redskins Rick "Doc" Walker, a radio analyst says the communications were fraught with risk.

RICK "DOC" WALKER, ESPN 980 RADIO: It's not the smartest thing to do, but you do some things when you are young that are not real bright. The whole internet deal is odd to me. The Manti Te'o deal to me is ridiculous.

TODD (on camera): And the players have them coming to them from any direction, right?

WALKER: Well, I assume. It's not my world. I know a lot of guys that are very popular and anybody that believes that pros are chasing ghosts is a damn fool.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: So who is the woman who sent the tweets to the Redskins' players? The nfl.com reporter said they were unable to verify that woman's identity. A league spokesman had no comment on the report even though it was done by the league's web site. The woman's Twitter and Facebook accounts have been deactivated and we have tried to reach C.J. Miles in e-mails and have not heard back.

BLITZER: Is the league, the players trying to go after this woman in any kind of legal way?

TODD: We asked and the NFL itself would not comment. We understand from speaking with a reporter from nfl.com that neither the league nor the players are going to go after her legally.

We spoke to CNN's legal contributor, Paul Callan about this. He says that unless someone tries to defraud you by perpetrating a hoax monetarily, it's not a crime and it's very tough to prosecute them criminally.

You can sue them for trauma, pain and suffering, you can do that civilly. As we understand, that the league and players are not inclined at this point to go after her legally.

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much. A good advice from Doc Walker too. Thank you.

In the next hour, a new phase in what North Korea claims it is confrontation with the United States.

Plus, a history making change at the Pentagon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)