CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Heated Exchanges On Benghazi; Arctic Outbreak; Obama Out To "Annihilate" The GOP?; Sloane Stephens Falls In Australian Open; Out Of Bounds? Soccer Player Kicks Ballboy; Beyonce Faked It; Tense Moments At Clinton's Hearings; Taking Sides In The Soda Ban; Born With Her Heart Outside Her Body

Aired January 24, 2013 - 07:30   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 back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Our team this morning, Roland Martin is a CNN political analyst. He is the host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin." Will Cain is with us. He is a CNN contributor, contributor for theblaze.com.

John Berman sticks around as well. He is with us too. Lots of build up, lots of drama as the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified about the siege in Benghazi. This morning the reviews of her testimony are coming in.

The secretary's voice cracked as she spoke about the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Then she became quite steely as she tried to defend what the Obama administration knew about the attack.

Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is following developments for us this morning. Tell me first, Jill, how the secretary's testimony has been received?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there were a lot of emotional highs in that, as you know, Soledad, and we're going to see Secretary Clinton again this morning in about three hours.

She'll be back on Capitol Hill at the Senate for the confirmation hearing for the man we expect will be the successor for her here at the State Department, and that is Senator John Kerry. But her testimony on Benghazi is still making waves.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): If she was tired by more than five and a half hours of testifying on the deadly attack in Benghazi, the recently ailing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied she was holding anything back from Congress.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: That's not who I am. That's not what I do.

DOUGHERTY: There was no doubt how personally Clinton took the death of the four Americans in Benghazi.

CLINTON: I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children.

DOUGHERTY: But Republicans leveled angry charges at the State Department and the Obama administration did not see the danger signs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I categorically reject your answer.

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post.

CLINTON: We have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants. They attacked us. They killed --

DOUGHERTY: Clinton was at times defiant and not afraid to push back.

SENATOR RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: No, no, no. Again, we were misled. There were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that, and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact. The American people could have known that within days.

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?

REPRESENTATIVE JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Madam Secretary, you let the consulate become a death trap and that's national security malpractice.

CLINTON: I think I've made that very clear, Congressman.

DOUGHERTY: For the first time she explained why it was U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and not she who delivered those misleading talking points.

CLINTON: I have to confess here in public, going on the Sunday shows is not my favorite thing to do.

DOUGHERTY: In a day of heavy questioning, a rare light moment.

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE CHABOT (R), OHIO: Madam Secretary, first, let me thank you for your service and I wish you the best in your future endeavors mostly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY: Future endeavors, mostly. And of course, that's reference to 2016. The presidential campaign that many expect Secretary Clinton could be a candidate from the Democratic side. An interesting side of the Benghazi hearing, of course, was the fact that some of the people who asked her questions could be GOP candidates for president as well.

O'BRIEN: There's always the sense that there's a lot more going on than just the questions when those things happen. All right, Jill Dougherty for us this morning. Thank you, Jill. Appreciate it.

Still ahead, we're going to be talking with Senator Ron Johnson. That was his heated exchange you saw with the secretary there. We'll ask him about that and the fallout from that straight ahead.

Other stories that are making news this morning, John has got that.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": It is really cold outside, the deep freeze gripping so much of the country right now. Wind chills expected to be dangerously low today in the Upper Midwest and northeast.

In northern Ohio, the lake-effect snow piled up as temperatures plunged into the teens and single digits. Roads were shut down in Wilkinsburg, P.A., after the freezing temperatures burst a water main there.

Check this out again, you know, we showed you this picture yesterday. We're now getting a closer look at that building in Chicago that turned into a giant ice castle after firefighters put out a massive five-alarm fire there.

And while we're shivering right now, others are feeling awfully nice and toasty. Take a look at Miami, where the high today will be a sunny 77 degrees. Miami, we hate you.

House Speaker John Boehner claims that President Obama's second term focus is to, quote, "annihilate the Republican Party."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We're expecting to hear over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Boehner said he and other House Republicans charted out a short-term strategy last week, but the party needs to begin a broader discussion about upcoming key policy debates.

So she knocked off Serena Williams earlier this week, but this morning 19-year-old American tennis phenom Sloan Stephens is out of the Australian Open. Top seeded Victoria Azarenka beat her in straight sets.

Stephens had to sit and wait again during a medical time-out. Azarenka asked for it after she botched five game points. Bottom line, Azarenka goes on, Sloan Stephens does not.

Now to Wales and soccer, so it looks like a cheap shot on the ball boy here. Check it out. Was the ball boy there actually being a ball hog or is this just a big misunderstanding? What was going on here, you make the call.

A replay showed that Chelsea's Eden Hazard kicking the teenager after the ball had gone out of play. What was going on there? Hazard got a red card, which means he gets kicked out of that game and the next game, team down a player.

The ball boy obviously as I said wouldn't give up the ball. He said he was just trying to get to it. He apologized to the boy. Police there said they are not going to press charged.

O'BRIEN: And the boy was wearing a Swansea uniform.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Sportsmanship obviously crossed over a line here, but watch this. Flopping is not unique to the players in soccer. That wasn't that hard of a kick.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Give the ball to him. The man is trying to play a game.

O'BRIEN: And you're wearing the jersey from the opposing team.

BERMAN: That's why you've got to be careful there.

We have one last story to tell you about today, it may be the last time we'll talk about this. The inaugural official -- an inaugural official told CNN that pop star Beyonce did not, repeat, did not, sing the national anthem live on inauguration day.

Hang on, Roland. The official asked not to be identified and said it was Beyonce herself who made the decision the night before the ceremony was her decision to lip-synch.

O'BRIEN: What I think is remarkable is there's an official that does not want to be identified. That speaks to the power of Beyonce. We love you anyway, babe. No worries.

MARTIN: "Yo-Yo Ma" 2009, that was a recording.

BERMAN: Everyone talked about then. Yo-Yo Ma talked about it then. Beyonce does not.

MARTIN: Beyonce, this is just ridiculous, my goodness.

BERMAN: And the Katie Couric interview Oprah about talking to Beyonce about it.

O'BRIEN: So let's get back to this hearing yesterday. Did you watch that?

MARTIN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: It was a pretty riveting hearing, I thought. A moment ago we were showing you one of the most heated moments from Secretary Clinton's hearing. It was a tense exchange between the secretary and Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Senator Johnson is with us this morning. We're going to talk -- Senator Johnson, nice to see you. Thanks for being with us.

JOHNSON: Good morning, Soledad. How are you doing?

O'BRIEN: I'm really well, thank you. What did you think of that hearing yesterday? Things got pretty tense. I think it's fair to say heated between you and Secretary Clinton.

JOHNSON: Well, I was trying to be respectful and I was a little surprised at her reaction. Listen, I was asking a pretty simple question. We could have known very quickly whether it was a protest or there wasn't a protest by just getting on the phone to those evacuees and, first of all, finding out are you OK, are your families taken care of but then asking what happened.

Because when you read the report, it's obvious there is no protest, there is no activity outside the consulate. This thing started at 9:40 p.m. when people stormed the gate. So there was no reason for this literally weeks of controversy.

And quite honestly now for months we could have had those answers and it's also important that we should have obtained those answers right away. I'm surprised it's not standard operating procedure to go in there and debrief these professionals immediately so we can prevent maybe some other imminent threats.

O'BRIEN: Well, two things. First, she said to you what does it really matter if the goal is looking forward and the second thing she said, to which when you pointed out that you thought -- when she said I didn't want to interfere in the process, you said, well, that's a good excuse.

JOHNSON: That is a dodge but let's go back to what difference does it make. I believe the American people deserve to be told the truth. I believe the American people need to understand what happened.

And I really think the American people do have an expectation that this president, this administration is honest with them. So I think it makes a great deal of difference.

And the fact of the matter is this administration has been hiding behind an FBI investigation and then a 60-day accountability review board report just happened to land after the election. So they were playing election politics, no doubt about it. Listen --

O'BRIEN: Senator, that you're playing politics too because one of the things you said, you said to "Buzz Feed," I think she just decided before she was going to describe emotionally the four dead Americans, that's when she was really choking up, the heroes and used that as her trump card to get out of the questions.

It was a good way of getting out of really having to respond to me and then the other question I point out where you said -- when she said she didn't want to interfere in the process, you said, well, that's a good excuse. So it sounds to me like you're saying, a lot of that was just faked. JOHNSON: Well, I was responding to a question maybe I shouldn't. I agree with Secretary Clinton we need to understand what happened so we can prevent it in the future. But again, we do need to get to the bottom of what actually happened. What is the truth of the matter here? Did the administration mislead us? I absolutely believe they did. That's for the American people to understand.

O'BRIEN: Sir, let's go back to the question and I hear you. But respectfully, here's what you told "Buzz Feed." It was a good way of getting out of having to respond to me and the question to the secretary right before she really said with all due respect, Senator, and kind of went at you a little bit, you said, well, that's a good excuse. So to me both of those things read, I think fairly, as someone saying you're faking it. This is fake.

JOHNSON: Listen, they were hiding behind the FBI investigation. They were hiding behind this Accountability Review Board report so they weren't answering any questions. It's taken four months. I understand she had health problems, I'm glad she's returned to health.

But the fact of the matter is this administration has not been straightforward with the American public. Again, I'm getting pressure from my constituents to find out the truth. The American people deserve the truth. That is why this matters.

But it also matters enormously. This is where I agree with Secretary Clinton. The main point is let's find out what happened. And let's prevent it from happening in the future. There is a failure of leadership before this and certainly after this and we need to correct those problems.

O'BRIEN: Sir, you accuse her of crying and being emotional as a good way of getting out.

JOHNSON: I did not -- no, I did not accuse her of crying.

O'BRIEN: You said she was going to describe emotionally the four dead Americans, the heroes. It was a good way of getting out of having to really respond to me. How am I misreading it?

JOHNSON: I was responding to a question, Soledad. I probably speculated and I shouldn't have. The bottom line is the reason it makes a difference is the American people deserve the truth from their president and from this administration and they haven't gotten it yet.

I'm going to continue to try and figure out what the truth is. Why haven't we been able to question those evacuees? That's one of the questions we're going to be asking. Can those folks be made available so we can find out what happened, who in the administration might have nobody what happened as they were misleading the American people for those couple of weeks, probably for the last couple months?

O'BRIEN: Senator Ron Johnson with us this morning. Thank you, Senator. Nice to have you as always, appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Have a great day. O'BRIEN: Thank you, likewise.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, New York City's ban on sugary sodas has a lot of people angry. The NAACP now is getting involved. They say the ban is unfair to minorities. We'll take a look at that.

A little baby finally ready to leave the hospital, she was born with her heart outside her body. We'll tell you about her condition straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Soft drink companies have a new ally in their soda war with the Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, of New York. The New York chapter of the NAACP, an organization that has close ties with Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola funds some of their programs.

"The New York Times" reports that attorneys for Coca-Cola wrote in an NAACP court filing that supports blocking the supersize soft drink ban. The City Health Department says since obesity rates are higher in the African-American community the ban would be beneficial. That ban goes into effect come March.

It is surprising that the NAACP would weigh into this debate. You know, you and I have had this debate a bunch of times about the size of these sodas at a time when the people who are really suffering with obesity are African-Americans and Latinos.

MARTIN: The same thing happened when you saw potential increasing of taxes on cigarettes. It happened in Chicago where you had business groups, the Black Chamber of Commerce, they said, this is going to hurt small businesses.

But then the argument was, wait a minute, when you look at cancer rates among African-Americans, how do you say don't do that when it's affecting African-Americans? And so I think the NAACP, the New York chapter is going to have to have an explanation because, again, obesity among African-Americans is huge.

O'BRIEN: Well, the explanation is that they'd like to see a more holistic approach, that this is not the way to do it. It's a little bit like your gun debate. Like don't do this, do a big picture, you're never going to get the solution. I think there is some merit to that argument, however --

MARTIN: Also a loophole here. They say that small business owners are affected, convenience stores, but larger stores like -- according to "The New York Times," larger stores like 7-11 would be exempt from soda restrictions because of a court in New York's regulatory structure. So they're saying 7-11 will continue to be able to sell them, but a mom and pop won't be able to sell it.

CAIN: That's the deepest merit. Any time you put these regulations or big government solutions in place, there is a winner. The winner is usually big business. There's a tie between big business and big government.

But look, we have to say this, there is a sponsorship relationship between the NAACP and big soda, Coca-Cola and NAACP have a relationship. We'd be naive to assume that doesn't have something to do with it.

O'BRIEN: I think when you say a holistic approach. It's kind of a non-answer. When you say you're going to wait for a holistic approach, usually that means we're not going to try to tackle the problem in the specific bans or legislation, et cetera.

So I get it, they have a relationship. That doesn't surprise me at all, honestly, and they fund some good programs for the NAACP so I don't think it's a bad relationship.

I think you can't just say I want a holistic approach and don't do something about something very specific. What's the thing that's going to fix the obesity problems in the community that the NAACP cares about?

MARTIN: One is more education, but still if you say holistic approach, you've right, offer a plan, thought just a phrase.

O'BRIEN: Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, a little baby who was born with our heart outside of her body but she says got a secret weapon. I'll tell you what's keeping her safe. You're watching STARTING POINTING straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. A baby -- her only -- with a condition that was only going to allow her to live for three days. Her name is Audrina Cardenas. She was born with a third of her heart beating outside her body. Christie Myers has a story of Audrina's survival.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIE MYERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After three months in the hospital, little Audrina and her mother were ready to go home.

ASHLEY CARDENAS, AUDRINA'S MOTHER: She's doing really good. She'll be going home on a little bit of oxygen, but very little, she's going home on a feeding tube. But hopefully with O.T. help, we'll be able to get her feeding through a bottle.

MYERS: She's come a long way since she was born October 15th with a third of her heart beating outside her body. In a six-hour surgery, Texas Children's doctors reconstructed her chest cavity to make space for her heart. But she doesn't have a bony breast plate to protect her heart, so they made here one, one of pink plastic.

CARDENAS: She doesn't have sternum. She doesn't have anything over her heart because the skin and the little muscle that they put over, so this is very important for her to wear especially for her car seat, the straps go right on her heart and if she didn't have anything hard it would damage her heart.

MYERS: In the future. Audrina will have another surgery and Texas Children's doctors will make a sternum for her out of some of her ribs. But Ashley loves her baby just the way she is.

CARDENAS: In a mother's eyes, sometimes you don't see her any other way.

MYERS: She packed Audrina's toys and clothes getting ready to leave, but she's not leaving Houston. The baby needs to be near the hospital for a while. Dr. Charles Fraser is the heart surgeon.

He did a last-minute check-up and she walked out with the doctors and nurses, all of whom critical in giving this baby a chance. She was happy to leave. Ashley is a little daunted by the medical equipment she has to handle but very grateful, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: You know, I think sometimes the word "miracle" is overused, but cases like that if we can save a baby whose heart is outside of her body.

MARTIN: It's a miracle.

O'BRIEN: It really is a miracle. That's a great story. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, streets covered in ice, snow piling up in cities like D.C., here is a live picture of the capitol. The winter blast is right at the top of hour.

New revolutions about the world of scientology, we'll take you inside the Hollywood obsession and tell you what the author of a controversial new book says a dozen members have to say about their encounters with the church leader. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, a deep freeze with no end in sight from the northeast to the Midwest, frigid temperatures remain in place and they're not going anywhere. We'll take you to the hardest hit areas.

Also the first look at a book that takes us inside the world of scientology, what a dozen members have to say about their encounters with the church's leader, a hard look at the church's obsession with celebrities.

BERMAN: Plus today's the day that Manti Te'o tells his story on camera, speaking out about the girlfriend hoax and we have the tape.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: New developments in a food supply scare, questions about horse meat found in burgers overseas that reportedly could taint the food supply with a cancer causing drug. Britain's standard agencies say the story is not true. What's the real story this morning? O'BRIEN: L.Z. Granderson is a senior writer with ESPN. We're going to talk about Manti Te'O with him this morning. Retired General Spider Marks is with us.