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THE SITUATION ROOM
IRS: Sorry for Tea Party Scrutiny; Benghazi Talking Points Controversy; Interview with Sen. Lindsey Graham
Aired May 10, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, HOST: Thanks so much, Jake.
Happening now, a CNN exclusive. You'll hear the daughter of the alleged Cleveland kidnapper say he is now dead to her, as she vows to cut off all contact with him.
The White house takes heat on the Benghazi talking points.
How much did the administration officials edit those early statements on the deadly attack?
And the IRS apologizes for singling out Tea Party groups for special scrutiny after they applied for tax -exempt status. There were mistakes, but was there a motive?
Wolf Blitzer is off today.
I'm Kate Bolduan.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
DNA tests are now confirming what Amanda Berry has already revealed, that Ariel Castro fathered her 6-year-old daughter during those 10 years she was held captive with two other women. The Ohio attorney general's office says Castro's DNA does not match any other open state cases, but national results are still pending through the FBI.
Meantime, Michelle Knight has been discharged from the hospital today. She's the last of the three women to be released.
There are new questions, at the very same time, emerging about how authorities handled her case, which generated far less publicity than the other two. Cleveland police removed Knight's name from an FBI missing people database 15 months after she was reported missing because they were unable to reach her family.
We're going to have more on all of that in just a second.
But first, I want to get straight to investigative reporter, Scott Taylor, with our Cleveland affiliate, WOIO.
He is joining us with the latest -- Scott, you've been doing some great reporting on this truly amazing and horrible story.
And you have details tonight, new details, about Ariel Castro. What's the latest with Ariel Castro?
We know he's in prison.
What are you hearing about the conditions, what he's facing in prison, and any idea of what he's like there?
What are you hearing?
SCOTT TAYLOR, WOIO INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, right now, he's in the Cuyahoga County Jail in downtown Cleveland. Really, you could walk from where the house is being boarded up right now, the house where the three girls were rescued on Monday, all the way to downtown, an easy walk. He's in what's called suicide prevention. And that means he's not threatening to kill himself or hurt himself, but he's a high profile inmate. And prosecutors, the sheriff's department, and, really, all of Cleveland, want to make sure that this guy goes to trial, gets in front of a jury.
There is no TV in his cell. He doesn't have access to a radio. He's not allowed any visitors or even a magazine. Now, I have been told in the last half hour, he just got a private attorney, Kate. So that means he's probably going to get his first visitor sometime late tonight.
BOLDUAN: Probably not surprising that he's not really able to see many folks to this point.
I do want to ask you, though, about some of the most interesting details that are coming to light today. You've seen some of these writings that we have heard about from what we believe to be writings of Ariel Castro that were found in the house when investigators were in there, following the women getting free.
What more are you learning about the details of these writings?
I mean they've been described, I've seen, as both a suicide note -- a suicide note and even a confession.
But what are the details you're hearing?
TAYLOR: When you look closer into what he was writing, it looks like he was almost playing favorites with his victims. He would take one, Michelle, get tired of her; then Amanda a year later; and then finally Gina DeJesus.
And what is really shocking about Gina is she was only 14 years old when she was taken in 2004. He thought she was a lot older. And then she took -- he took her down into the basement along with everybody else, bound and gagged her. And there was a strange connection he felt with Gina because he knew the family. He said he had a closeness, believe it or not, with Gina and with her parents and Felix, Felix DeJesus, who happens to be Gina's dad. He writes that he didn't know that Gina was Felix's daughter when he grabbed her and that Felix was a classmate. Now we talked to Felix earlier today. And he did confirm that he was a classmate with Felix briefly at Lincoln West High School. Now, he did tell us, though, they were definitely not best buds.
BOLDUAN: No, he said he had a sense of closeness with this family. Twisted -- how twisted can that be?
One more thing, Scott, before I let you go. In the letter, I've seen that you've reported that Ariel Castro allegedly placed blame on some of his victims. I can't even possibly begin to imagine what that means.
Explain that to us.
TAYLOR: Well, a chilling little comment in there. He talked about Amanda and Gina getting into his vehicles. He said, would you like a ride home?
They said yes. They got in. And he said that's the reason why they were really locked up for -- up until 2004, because that's when he wrote this. But he did want to send a warning out to other potential victims to make sure whatever you do, don't get into anybody's car, especially a stranger's car. So he was selling a -- he was sending out this chilling warning which was really bizarre.
And you did mention that some people thought this was a suicide note, so maybe he was going to end up to kill himself. He talked about he was going to take all his money, give it to his victim. And in the end, in this letter, he did apologize to everyone he affected.
BOLDUAN: It's truly impossible to really wrap our mind around the mind of someone that would do any of this.
But great reporting, regardless.
Scott Taylor of WOIO.
Thanks so much, Scott.
It looks like some bad weather there today.
So thanks so much.
For joining us.
We do want to make clear, as we always do with our viewers, CNN hasn't confirmed some of the details that Scott is reporting there out of -- out of Cleveland. That is WOIO's reporting, great reporting nonetheless.
Scott Taylor, thanks so much.
In the decade that these three women were being terrorized, were there any opportunities to save them that may have been missed along the way?
That's a huge question that you know so many folks are asking.
CNN's national correspondent, Gary Tuchman, has been working that part of the story for us and is joining us now -- so, Gary, it always begs the question, is this a case of there were real missed opportunities here or is this a case of hindsight?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, I will tell you, in the middle of this big rain storm, where police are still working outside Ariel Castro's house and inside, there's this question about what the police have done here. You know, over the years, we've done lots of stories about wonderful, amazing outcomes in crime cases because of police heroics.
This is a wonderful outcome, but not because of police heroics.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Eric Poindexter believes he could have helped Cleveland police end this kidnapping nightmare nine years ago.
ERIC POINDEXTER: My brother and I was driving down the street on the day Gina DeJesus was abducted.
TUCHMAN: The street is West 105th, only a couple blocks away from the school Gina was walking home from the day she was kidnapped. Eric and his brother were driving when a car came up on their left in the turning lane.
(on camera): And then you saw a girl walking down the sidewalk on that side of the street.
POINDEXTER: Yes, right over there, right by the corner, right there by that brick building.
TUCHMAN: And what did you see this driver do after that?
POINDEXTER: Once we crossed Fidelity here, this intersection, he swerved in front of us, almost hitting us, to get into the -- where the parking lane, quote, unquote, is. And as soon as we passed him up, he did a U-turn and didn't care if anybody was coming the other way or not. He just hit a U-turn right in front of the -- right in front of toward where the little girl was walking.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): In this week's police report about the case, authorities revealed that Gina has confirmed she was kidnapped on West 105th Street.
(on camera): After Eric and his brother saw the car make a U-turn and head toward the girl, they also made a U-turn -- angry that they almost got hit by the driver and also concerned about the girl. But when they got to the spot where they had seen the girl, they no longer did. She was gone.
(voice-over): It wasn't long before reports surfaced about a missing girl named Gina DeJesus. So Eric and his brother say they immediately called the police to tell them what they saw. POINDEXTER: She was wearing tight black pants and a puffy gray jacket.
TUCHMAN (on camera): And what was the description of Gina DeJesus after she went missing?
POINDEXTER: She was -- that was a little girl, a Puerto Rican girl, with long, curly black hair wearing tight black pants and a gray puffy jacket.
TUCHMAN: The same exact description?
POINDEXTER: The same exact description.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Eric says the authorities didn't ever seem to think their information was credible.
POINDEXTER: It seemed like we -- they were looking at us like we were just looking for attention or something like that.
TUCHMAN (on camera): The police?
POINDEXTER: Yes. They -- they didn't seem to give any real desire to the case, you know what I'm saying, what we was telling them. They thought it was just, we were blowing smoke up their butts or something, I don't know.
TUCHMAN: Why do you think that is?
POINDEXTER: I have no clue.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And after the arrest of Ariel Castro, Eric and his brother say that is the face they saw behind the wheel that day.
But theirs isn't the only story that, if acted upon, could have ended the terror allegedly brought by Ariel Castro.
In 2004, after Castro, who was a school bus driver, had allegedly kidnapped two girls and was about to kidnap Gina DeJesus, he left a child on his bus as he headed into the bus depot. I asked police why Castro wasn't more aggressively questioned about the incident.
DEPUTY CHIEF ED TOMBA, CLEVELAND POLICE: He was interviewed extensively, relative to this complaint that we had. He was not a suspect in any other complaint. This was a -- he was a bus driver who inadvertently, so he says, left a kid on a bus, went in for a lunch break, came back and then found the young man.
TUCHMAN: Castro was never prosecuted for that incident.
A year later, Castro was accused in court documents of repeated abuse and domestic violence against his common law wife, Grimalda Figueroa. He was accused of everything from breaking her nose twice to dislocating her shoulders. But the case was ultimately dismissed because of numerous delays caused by Castro not showing up and attorneys for both sides not showing up. Police strongly defend their work in this case, and say they have no records of any recent calls pertaining to Ariel Castro. They also tell us they have not been able to confirm if they have records of talking to Eric Poindexter and his brother back when the kidnapping happened.
POINDEXTER: I now believe a hundred percent of my heart that he was there to abduct that little girl. And I believe that little girl was Gina DeJesus.
TUCHMAN: Police say they will continue to investigate if other calls have been made over the years.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TUCHMAN: Now just a couple of minutes ago, I talked to that deputy chief. He told me that he is not familiar with the Poindexters or the Poindexter story, but he and the police department are open to further investigations -- Kate, a couple other odds and ends I want to tell you about. That greenhouse behind me, the greenhouse next to Ariel Castro's house, police got a search warrant to search inside of there. I've been told by the deputy chief they got the search warrant just to be careful, to see if anything has been going on in that house, because it's been abandoned. They saw nothing in that house. But now all their attention is being paid to white house, where Castro lived.
In addition, this street has been closed off for a few days now during the course of this investigation. The street will be open as early as tomorrow. However, a fence is being constructed around the house. It will say "no trespassing." But the block will be open once again.
The deputy police chief told me he's been with the Cleveland Police Department for 28 years. He says aside from his two children being born, the outcome of this is the most amazing thing he's seen in his life.
And finally, the last thing I want to tell you, Kate, just a short time ago, we saw workers on top of the roof of that house boarding up the house. It is pouring rain here. I thought the guys were absolutely nuts to be on that slanted roof doing this work. They've finally gone inside. We don't want to see any more sad stories, tragedy, any more news on this particular block -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: No more news, Gary. But you can almost be assured that more news will be coming out of Cleveland as this story and this -- a story unfolds and investigation continues. Gary, great work.
Thanks so much.
Talk to you soon.
Still coming up next, the Obama administration gets a grilling on its response to the Benghazi attacks.
How much did officials edit those early statements?
Also coming up, the IRS admits it made mistakes in subjecting Tea Party groups to extra scrutiny.
But was politics at play?
BOLDUAN: After a flurry of complaints from conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status, the IRS just today denies any political motives but does admit it made mistakes in singling out these groups for extra scrutiny. Tea Party activists and some Republican politicians to be sure are not satisfied.
CNN's Athena Jones has been looking into this and has more details. Athena, the White House just today even said, itself, that the news coming out about the IRS is very concerning. So, what are you learning?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. Hi, Kate. You know, the American civil liberties union is saying that even the appearance of playing partisan politics with the tax code is about as constitutionally troubling as it gets. And that is what the IRS is being accused of doing.
JONES (voice-over): The Internal Revenue Service is admitting it over scrutinized conservative and Tea Party groups during the run up to the 2012 election. Groups like the Tea Party Patriots, the nation's largest Tea Party organization, who say they face big delays and mountains of paperwork after applying for tax-exempt status in 2009.
JENNY BETH MARTIN, TEA PARRY PATRIOTS: They came back wanting every single Facebook post, every comment on Facebook. We have a million fans now on Facebook going through and finding comments and every single post on Facebook. Hours and hours of work and massive amounts of paper. And the fact that the IRS was doing this is absolutely disgusting. It's an abuse of power.
JONES: Martin says her group still hasn't gotten an answer from the IRS. Now, the agency is admitting some groups were subject to further review simply because they had the names Tea Party and Patriot. An IRS director telling reporters the employees responsible did pick the cases by names and that's absolutely inappropriate and not the way we should do things.
The agency insists the practice was not done for political or partisan reasons and says changes have been made to avoid further mistakes. That's not good enough for Martin or for Republicans in Congress who want an investigation.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) UTAH: Let's face it. This is as Nixonian as you can get. In all honesty, they not only have to clean it up. They got to do a lot more. We got to know who did this, we got to know why it was done, we got to know when it was done, how many times it was done. We've got to have answers to these questions.
JONES: And the White House agrees. JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It certainly does seem to be based on what we've seen to be inappropriate action that we would want to see thoroughly investigated.
JONES (on-camera): Now, the treasury inspector general for tax administration is investigating this matter, but an official there told me they haven't yet set a release date for their report. And one more interesting point, Kate, that White House spokesman, Jay Carney, brought up, the person who was running the IRS during all of this was actually a Bush administration appointee. So, another interesting tidbit there -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Another interesting tidbit, but you can be sure the White House will likely try to be distancing themselves from this, especially amid all of the other issues swirling today, Athena. And you can be sure as well that Republicans on Capitol Hill will be investigating as they do. Athena, thanks so much.
Still ahead, I'm going to be talking to Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, about just this, what he thinks of the IRS action and scrutinizing Tea Party groups and also be talking about him -- about much, much more news of the day.
Also, a CNN exclusive, you'll hear the daughter of the alleged Cleveland kidnapper say he is now dead to her as she vows to cut off all contact with him, her father.
BOLDUAN: Texas authorities are now launching a criminal investigation into last month's deadly explosion at a fertilizer facility. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories coming into the SITUATION ROOM right now.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Fourteen people died in the small town of West, Texas, was devastated by the fertilizer plant fire and explosion. The announcement of the criminal probe came on the same day. Authorities arrested a local emergency volunteer who was a first responder. He was arrested for possession of a destructive device.
Authorities have not yet tied the arrest to the explosion. They've already ruled out several potential causes.
And this is being called a disgraceful event and unsavory incident. It happened on the same day South Korea's president met in the oval office with President Obama and it's led to the firing of her spokesman. A Washington police report says the now former spokesman is accused of sexually abusing a young intern in a hotel bar. He left the U.S. shortly after the alleged incident.
And New York today symbolically completed its comeback from the 9/11 terror attacks. Workers bolted a 408-foot spire into place atop one World Trade Center. That raises the building's height to 1,776 feet. That's not a coincidence. It's another symbol since that figure is the same as the year the U.S. declared independence. The building is still unfinished and becomes the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and third tallest in the world -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: As you're saying that, Lisa, I'm realizing I'm going to have to start getting used to calling that my backyard.
SYLVESTER: That's right. You're now in New York. We miss you here in D.C., though, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Any time I can even be in the SITUATION ROOM even remotely, I'll take it. Great to see you, Lisa.
SYLVESTER: Take care, Kate.
BOLDUAN: OK. We'll see you in a bit.
Still ahead, did the Obama administration water down its early response to the Benghazi attack? Officials are being peppered with questions about those so-called talking points. And you can be sure one guy has something to say about that, Republican senator, Lindsey Graham. I'm going to ask him if he's satisfied with today's responses from the White House as well as the state department. Much more ahead.
BOLDUAN: The Obama administration today is taking quite a lot of heat over its response to the Benghazi attacks, the deadly Benghazi attacks. E-mail exchanges show officials were more involved than they first let on in tweaking those talking points used to describe the attack and the aftermath.
CNN national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, has more on this. So, walk us through this, Jim, because it can get complex.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. The White House and the state department, they're trying to make the case that they made these adjustments to these talking points in order to preserve what they called the integrity of the investigation into Benghazi, but that does not answer all of the questions about what the White House has said in the past about these talking points.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Three days after the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Obama administration officials were firing e- mails back and forth to each other, discussing just how to explain to Congress what happened. According to e-mails from that exchange viewed by Congressional sources, those administration officials apparently agreed to remove a key CIA assessment about who was involved in the incident from government talking points.
A version of those talking points made their way to U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, who went on five Sunday talk shows and said protesters enraged over an anti-Islamic video were suspected in both Benghazi as well as a separate siege on the U.S. embassy in Cairo.
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo which were prompted, of course, by the video.
ACOSTA: What rice did not disclose is that investigators suspected an al Qaeda connected group. Ansar al-Sharia was behind the attack. In an e-mail dated September 14th at 7:39 p.m., state department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, wrote, "Why do we want the Hill," as in Congress, "fingering Ansar al-Sharia when we aren't doing that ourselves? And the penultimate point could be abuse to beat the state department for not paying attention to agency warnings."
At that point, the e-mails indicate the references to Ansar al-Sharia were removed. But Nuland chimed in again. "These don't resolve all of my issues or those of my building's leadership. They are consulting with NSS," as in National Security Council Staff. One minute later, secretary of state, Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff e-mail's "We'll work this through in the morning."
Then Ben Rhodes, a top national security official, warns the talking points shouldn't jeopardize the investigation and tables the discussion for a White House meeting the next day when it appears the decision was made to drop the reference to the terror group. The end result? This e-mail to Rice. "You are doing the Sunday morning shows and need to be aware of the final postures that these points took."
The big changes to the talking points run counter to what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters last November.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The White House and State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two -- these two institutions were changing the word consulate to diplomatic facility.
ACOSTA: Carney's explanation now? That officials were concerned about protecting the integrity of the investigation. But that took a while after the briefing was originally scheduled for 12:30 then moved to 1:45 then again to 3:15.
(On camera): That is not a stylistic edit. That is not a single adjustment as you said back in November. That is a major, dramatic change in the information.
CARNEY: No, I appreciate the question and the opportunity again to make clear that the CIA produced talking points that was a result of an interagency process on the morning of -- that Saturday morning. And then --
ACOSTA: But when you say --
CARNEY: And to that -- ACOSTA: These talking points --
CARNEY: Jim, let me just finish this. And then I'll -- I'll -- you can follow -- I accept that stylistic may not precisely describe a change of one word to another.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Earlier this week the number two diplomat in Libya at the time of the attack said the administration's explanations don't add up.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: She blamed this attack on a video. In fact she did it five different times. What was your reaction to that?
GREGORY HICKS, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION: I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed.
ACOSTA: House Speaker John Boehner accused the administration of stonewalling.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I would call on the president to release these unclassified, interagency e-mails so that the American people can see them.
ACOSTA: The White House says it's all politics. On the same day the e-mails surfaced, a new Web video from a GOP super PAC zeroed in on Clinton's testimony on Benghazi.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?
ACOSTA: Also at the briefing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicated the White House will not be releasing those e-mails to Speaker John Boehner, and asked whether looking back the White House might have handled this matter differently, Jay Carney said, no -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Great reporting, Jim. Thanks so much.
Let's go -- a key question and I want to drill deeper on this now with CNN's chief national correspondent John King.
So, John, you heard Jim's great report but you also heard from Jay Carney today, what he had to say. Lots and lots of questions about Benghazi and what role the White House played in drafting, changing these talking points that we now know were flawed, were not accurate. How much pressure is the White House under right now? And I think more importantly, how do you think they're handling it?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It depends who the audience is you're asking me about. If you say how are they handling it.
KING: In the sense the Democrats, Democrats want to see the White House push back and say this is all a partisan Republican investigation. Republicans say, no. Actually we have now proven in the report, here's an interim progress report from the five Republican committees looking at this, we've had our own reporting and other news organizations' reporting since saying roughly a dozen times these talking points were watered down, they were changed, however you want to put it, and that key words like terrorism were removed.
Now the White House says this was done to protect the investigation. It was done because all the agencies have to reach consensus. This can be usually a pretty boring process in Washington but the Republicans say no. You keep saying the FBI wants to take that information out. We have FBI approved talking points where they left that information in. So the questions from the Republicans will continue, Kate.
And I think that Jay Carney did concede a key point today when he said in November those institutions, the White House and State, changed only one thing. Today he made clear that, yes, the White House he says changed one thing but the State Department was clearly involved in a back and forth -- in a fight with the CIA about what those talking points should say.
BOLDUAN: And even beyond the issue of the talking points, who changed them, when were they changed, how are they changed, what's the motivation. I mean, you've been watching this finger pointing take place since the -- really, immediately -- since the Benghazi attack, this comes on the heels of the hearing on Capitol Hill this week, on just this issue. And you also know very well how Washington works.
I mean, in your estimation is this partisan politics at play, as Democrats suggest, or are there still legitimate questions still out there that the administration had not yet answered months later?
KING: Both. Both. There are legitimate questions about who exactly changed this talking point. How -- after it did go. You heard Jim Acosta quote from an e-mail from Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman saying people in my building, leadership in my building are still not satisfied. What does that mean? Does than Secretary Clinton? Does that mean Secretary Clinton's chief of staff? Does it mean someone else?
We don't know. And Republicans say that's a legitimate question. Now Democrats say sure, they say it's a legitimate question because they're trying to rough up Hillary Clinton to make it harder for her to run for president in 2016. So it is a legitimate policy question to try to ask -- four Americans were killed here, let's remember that. Four Americans were killed.
KING: The State Department and Washington had been warned about lax security in Libya including at the Benghazi facility. So there are legitimate questions here. Four Americans were killed. As those questions are being asked there's no question there's some politics at play as well.
BOLDUAN: Yes. The politics is never far behind, that's for sure. I mean, is there an easy way to even -- looking forward and looking at your crystal ball which I know you have nearby all the time -- how this, you see this resolving at this point? Is there going to be that smoking gun, one person that's at fault here?
KING: We don't know the answer to that.
KING: We do know this. There are five House led committees investigating this and they say they will continue to do this. We also know that the White House says it is unlikely to release any more of those e-mails. On that one the Republicans are in a bit of a box because when the Bush administration exerted this executive privilege or this executive right to keep internal deliberations private they were always supported, almost universally supported by Republicans in Congress.
So the history is that all administrations, Democrat and Republicans, have been unlikely or unwilling to produce this information publicly at least, a lot of it, and the White House is correct to a degree in saying that by sharing the information in private with Republicans they have gone beyond what many past administrations have done.
Here is the challenge for Republicans, Kate. They do have some legitimate questions here. And we should all want good, tough, legitimate congressional oversight regardless of which party controls the Congress.
KING: Which party control either chamber. However, when at the same time you have a couple of your leading presidential contenders for 2016 saying, well, this proves Hillary Clinton is not qualified to run, when you have these Web videos up, when you have the fundraising the Republican House committee is doing off these hearings, it makes it hard to say we're doing legitimate oversight. We will go where the facts lead us when then you have all these people out there already making judgments saying, they already know the conclusion. It's a cover-up.
BOLDUAN: Yes. That's an excellent point to make. John King, great to see you. Thank you.
KING: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up next, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, has been pushing for more info -- information about Benghazi in the aftermath. He's been pushing this for months. He's going to join me live with a lot of questions to answer.
And a CNN exclusive also coming up. The daughter of the alleged Cleveland kidnapper says he is now dead to her. More on that ahead.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get more now on that grilling that the Obama administration has received today and really this week. Joining me now to talk more about this is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Senator, thanks so much for taking the time.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes. Jay Carney, good guy. Had a tough day today.
BOLDUAN: A tough day. That's his job sometimes, you know? Got to answer those questions.
GRAHAM: Yes. That's right.
BOLDUAN: So you did just hear -- as I said, you heard Jim Acosta's report, you also heard from John King. I mean, the White House is downplaying its role on this most recent issue coming up today about changing the talking points that we now know were quite flawed. And they continue to suggest and say that there has been no cover up. There was no intent to mislead the public in the aftermath of Benghazi. I mean, they say it was kind of a fog of war, developing intelligence situation. So are you satisfied?
GRAHAM: No. I am very familiar with the fog of war and also the political smoke screen when I see it. There is no way the president of the United States on 18th September could have said the following. Here's what -- here's what happened. We had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, a sort of shadowy character who made an extremely offensive video directed at Mohamed and Islam, and the president went on to say, what also happened extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies including the one, the consulate in Libya.
A week after the attack the president told David Letterman and the entire country that the video and a riot caused the death of our ambassador and three other Americans. Either he was incredibly detached or he was misleading, and I want to know what happened.
BOLDUAN: And you've had questions all along. I mean, every time, you and I have spoken many times, you, me and Wolf --
GRAHAM: I never believed it -- right. Right.
BOLDUAN: We've talked many times about questions that you have --
GRAHAM: And here's what we should do.
BOLDUAN: And lingered questions. But here's -- I guess, at this point, so many months after and the White House continues to say they were not intending to mislead the public and Jay Carney did say today that he thinks -- he says it's never been clear what they, meaning Republicans, what they're even accusing the administration of doing. I mean, I think what Jay Carney is asking is, what's the end game? It doesn't seem that he believes that -- there will ever be enough, enough answered questions to satisfy Republicans. What is the end game? What do you want to know next?
GRAHAM: That's the good -- just the truth. I don't -- I'm not saying this is Watergate. It's probably more like Iran contra.
BOLDUAN: How so?
GRAHAM: I want the survivors of the attack -- I want, you know, Reagan said we're didn't trade hostages for arms but we did. So what I want to find out is from the people who were there, not from me, not from some political machine, make the survivors of the attack available to the Congress. We've been stonewalled. I'm asking the administration and we'll insist upon that every survivor and participant in Benghazi be made available to the Congress.
How did the Accountability Review Board miss all of the e-mails indicating that the talking points were changed? How did they get Greg Hicks' the story so wrong? There are good people who did the Accountability Review Board but what Congress has found is completely different than what the ARB report showed. Then I want the principals be called back into the Congress and answer questions about how these people died and it really does matter.
So what I am looking for is the truth. And what was told by Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and the president himself was the most politically advantageous story seven weeks before election possible and it didn't reflect the truth. How could they ignore all the intelligence and the reports coming from Libya and other places that this was a coordinated terrorist attack long time in the making.
It really does matter that your government tell you the truth about how four Americans died. That would end it for me. I want the survivors to come forward and I want to hear from them what happened.
BOLDUAN: And when you say you want to hear from the principals again, I mean, I assume that means you want to hear from Hillary Clinton again. I mean we know --
BOLDUAN: -- yesterday former Vice President Dick Cheney, he suggested to Republicans on the hill that if she doesn't come back for questioning that he suggests that she should be subpoenaed. Do you think it will come to that?
GRAHAM: No. I think she'll come back. And here's what I like. And I like Secretary Clinton. I think she's a talented person but when it came to Benghazi, why were all the security requests denied and how could she not know about it? This was an attack a long time in the making. Al Qaeda flags were flying across Benghazi. Ambassador Stevens said in August we can't defend the consulate.
But now we have e-mail traffic about changing the talking points. We got e-mails coming from Libya saying definitively on the 12th of September this was a terrorist attack and here are the groups who are responsible.
How could she on the 14th of September tell a family member, Charles Wood, the -- the father of Ty Woods, we're going to get the guy who made that video? Did she know about the intelligence coming from the State Department in Libya -- from Libya to the headquarters in the State Department clearly saying from the people who lived through it this was a terrorist attack and here's who was involved?
How could she not know that? Cheryl Mills needs to come and explain herself. I want to call Sherman Dempsey back, who said no one was told to stand down. Now we know that Lieutenant Colonel Gibson and another army person was ready to go from Tripoli to Benghazi but told they couldn't go because it was too dangerous but the State Department sent their people. I just want to know what happened and learn from this.
BOLDUAN: Clearly it seems that there are a lot more questions. I do want to ask you, you know, as this drags on and you've heard this, it's no surprise to you, Democrats, the White House, they really suggest that this has completely become a partisan witch hunt.
BOLDUAN: And I want you to respond to why it is not in your view --
BOLDUAN: -- a partisan witch hunt but also consider this. We've heard from the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
BOLDUAN: They put out a statement. Of course he was killed in this attack. They put out a statement to CNN after this House hearing on Benghazi and they said, in part, that they deplore any effort to politicize this tragedy. I mean, this is one of the families that suffered the most. This family seems to think enough is enough. They don't speak for all of the families of course. But what do you say to them?
GRAHAM: Well, here is what I would say to anybody, the families included. That we need to learn from what happened to your loved ones so that other people will not meet the same fate. We need to understand how we were so blind to the threat before the attack. Why was it that for seven and a half hours our country could not come to the aid of your loved one and after the fact for weeks how could we get it so wrong and, quite frankly, be so misleading?
BOLDUAN: Senator, I know --
GRAHAM: I can't believe the Democrats doesn't want to know that --
BOLDUAN: Go ahead. I'm sorry.
GRAHAM: I can't believe a Democrat doesn't want to know the answer to that. When we had Abu Ghraib and the Bush administration said this is just a few bad MPs, it was a complete system failure and when Vice President Cheney said Iraq was just a few dead enders, we didn't have the right strategy.
I want to prove to the American people what happened in a way so we can learn from it and I don't think this is partisan or shouldn't be partisan. If it is partisan, shame on us.
BOLDUAN: Hey, Lindsey -- Senator, let me -- I got to go and I hate doing this to you. I do want to get your quick reaction, though --
BOLDUAN: -- to this news going out of the IRS regarding -- the IRS who was saying that they made mistakes in -- making further scrutiny of Tea Party groups.
GRAHAM: Right. Yes.
BOLDUAN: Seeking tax-exempt status. I mean, short and sweet, do you think there are politics at play? They say there were no motives, no political motives. Are you satisfied with that?
GRAHAM: No. I don't think you accidentally focus on the Tea Party. But it wouldn't be the first time the IRS has been used for political purposes. But let's get to the bottom of that, too, and see where it goes.
BOLDUAN: All right. You got a lot on your plate.
Senator Lindsey Graham, it's always great to have you in. Thank you so much for making the effort. We'll talk to you soon.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
Still coming up next, a CNN exclusive. The daughter of the alleged Cleveland kidnapper says she is disgusted by her father's alleged actions.
BOLDUAN: The daughter of kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro says her father is dead to her. Here's her exclusive interview with CNN's Laurie Segall.
ANGIE GREGG, DAUGHTER OF KIDNAPPING SUSPECT: My husband and I are in complete disbelief, that the friendly, caring, doting man I knew as my daddy, was in fact the most evil, vile, demonic criminal that I have met or heard of over the past 10 years. LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is part of a letter that Angie Gregg wrote after learning her father was allegedly behind the brutal kidnappings in Cleveland, Ohio. Now she's speaking out.
GREGG: And to go to the vigils, to show these girls a footage of their parents' pleas for their return, to rape, starve, and beat innocent human beings, I am disgusted.
SEGALL (on camera): You've learned that your father wasn't the guy you thought he was.
SEGALL: What is that like?
GREGG: It's -- it's like a horror movie. It's like watching a bad movie.
SEGALL: Only you're in it.
GREGG: It's -- only we're in it, we're, you know, the main characters, and I never suspected anything was going on, but the more I sit and dwell on it, I think of things that make a whole lot of sense now.
SEGALL: You look back and you say OK, you can piece together -- you're beginning to piece together a puzzle. Where were the signs?
GREGG: Well, he never wanted to leave the house more than a day at a time. He was adamant in the fact that he wanted to leave home early morning and he had to be back by evening.
SEGALL: Were there certain areas in the home that were just off limits?
GREGG: Ever since my mom lived in that house, the basement was always kept locked. I have never been upstairs in the house, and I never had reason to be. I asked him if I could see my room for old time's sake, and he says honey, there is so much junk up there, you don't want to go up there.
SEGALL: When you think about, you know, what might have been, what was behind those doors, how do you -- how do you cope with that?
GREGG: I mean, it all makes sense now. Now I know. It's hard, but I have -- I have no sympathy for the man. I have no sympathy. He was just another person who's lied and deceived and manipulated people and I could never forgive him. I could never forgive him. If you were to ask me this last week, I would have told you he is the best dad and the best grandpa.
SEGALL: One thing she did suspect is that her father might have had another child, a child we now know is her half-sister, conceived with one of the women he allegedly held captive. GREGG: He showed pictures that was on his cell phone randomly. And he said, look at this cute little girl. It was a face shot and I said she's cute. Who is that? You know, and he said this is my girlfriend's child. And I said, dad. That girl looks like Emily. Emily is my younger sister, and he said, no, that's not my child. That's my girlfriend's child by somebody else.
SEGALL: Angie says she was always close with her father, but she says witnessed abuse in the home.
GREGG: He was pretty jealous, he was always saying that my mom was, you know, messing with certain neighbors, things like that, and I've seen -- I've seen him basically stomp on her like she was a man, like -- he's beat her pretty bad several times.
SEGALL: Her mother passed away from cancer-related complications in 2012.
GREGG: I've lost my mother, now I've lost a father, but I don't -- I don't try cry for him.
SEGALL (on camera): If you had a message for him, what would it be?
GREGG: All this time, why? Like why -- I don't -- I don't even know what to say. Why after all this time? Why did you do it in the first place? Why did you take these girls? And why did you never leave, and why did you never -- why did you never feel guilty enough to let them go?
SEGALL: What message do you have for these women and their families?
GREGG: I feel so much -- so much sorrow that you had to endure this. I'm glad that you're back home with your family finally because they never stopped thinking about you. They never stopped -- they never forgot you. You know, right now these girls need to heal.
SEGALL: Do you feel that you're going to need to heal, too?
GREGG: I'll be fine. I wasn't submitted to the horror that they were.
SEGALL: In a day you've lost -- you've lost the man that raised you. That must be hard.
GREGG: He is nothing but a memory anymore. He can never be daddy again.
BOLDUAN: I don't know how she can even comprehend. So many lives changed forever.
When we come back, THE SITUATION ROOM continues with Jake Tapper and an interview with the Cleveland deputy police chief. We'll be back.