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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  January 14, 2014 2:00pm-3:29pm PST

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>> all right. christopher john farley, thank you so much. we'll see you soon. that's it for "the lead." i know turn you over to mr. wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, hillary clinton may have a hitting problem in iowa amid new revelations regarding benghazi and problems with her foreign policy record. bumps on the road on the way to 2016. stand by. and a new clue in the mystery of the airliner that landed at the wrong airport. turns out the pilots had some company in the cockpit. and nfl head injuries. why a judge will not propose a settlement for former players. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin with stunning new revelations about the attack on the u.s. mission in benghazi
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which killed the u.s. ambassador and three other americans. hillary clinton has been a criticism and the way the obama administration handled the attack, hundreds of declassified testimony now shows that the u.s. military was unprepared to prevent the attack, defend against it or come to the rescue of the diplomats. let's bring in elise labott. what are you finding out, elise? >> wolf, these documents look at the night of the benghazi attack and reveal critical gaps. the military's ability to respond. the pentagon was ill-prepared to respond to the attack in benghazi where four americans died. according to newly declassified evidence. republican congressman chaired the hearings. >> we very clearly established
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that we weren't prepared and it was because of the lack of communication in the days and months leading up to this. >> reporter: despite white house claims they beefed up security, martin dempsey testified, i don't remember libya coming up specifically in our call with president obama and his national security advisers to discuss potential threats on 9/11. in the run-up to 9/11, the threat streams took us other places, other than libya, he says, which is why leon panetta had military aircraft stationed hours away in europe. >> this was, pure and simple, in the absences of any kind of advance warning, a problem of distance and time. >> reporter: but the top commander of u.s. forces in africa pushed for more intelligence assets, concerned east libya was becoming a hotbed of extremism. i don't know that i would go as far as to say that it would have
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prevended the attacks that occurred on september 11th, but i wanted more resources, he said. >> it's a small minority. they are the ones who have largely lost in these emerging democratic processes. >> reporter: that contradicts the early claims made by then u.s. ambassador susan rice, saying that he, panetta, and dempsey, all came quickly to believe that it was terrorism. then, secretary of state hillary clinton famously dismissed the origin as irrelevant. >> the fact is, we had four dead americans. was it because of a protest or guys out for a walk one night decided to kill some americans. what difference, at this point, does it make? the. >> the commanders all question the decision by ambassador chris stevens to get rid of a military security team a month before the attack. suggesting it could have helped protect him that night. now, the house armed services subcommittee report comes out
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tomorrow. one interesting thing general dempsey reveals in his testimony, wolf, is that the u.s. military is not authorized to kill any of the suspects. they have to be captured alive, even though the state department labeled them and sharia the organization to be responsible as the terrorist group. >> interesting stuff. thanks very much, elise. these revelations come two weeks after "the new york times" published a couldn't verse yell report, it seems after their own lengthy investigation, no direct evidence of an al qaeda role in the attack and supported the initial claim that an anti muslim video fueled some of that mob violence in benghazi. "the new york times" correspondent david kirkpatrick wrote the story and he's joining us live now from cairo. dave, thank you very much. before we get to those details, are you surprised by the new revelations we just reported that the u.s. military and military commanders say they
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really were not prepared -- even though this was the anniversary of 9/11 for a terrorist attack or if necessary a u.s. military response? >> no. i'm not surprised at all. to begin with, ambassador stevens himself was really the leading shaper of the united states' attitude and policy towards libya. and he was quite confident of his own safety and benghazi. he really felt like the people there were on his side. so i can see that he wouldn't have raised alarms. beyond that, when you get down to the details of what happened inside the compound, the fact is that within 15 minutes after breaking through the door, the attackers found large cans of fuel sitting right next to the front door. and that's what they used to set the buildings on fire. so any intervention that would have seek to save ambassador stevens' life would have had to have happened awfully fast, faster than even the team of the
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ci ach cia operatives could have made it to the compound. >> so you think there was a blunder on part of the ambassador, ambassador stevens, that he wasn't himself adequately prepared for these kinds of terror attacks? >> i don't want to say there was a blunder on the part of ambassador stevens but i think that many people inside the government would say that there was an insufficient awareness of some of the dangers and dynamics among the militias in benghazi at that time and probably had excessive confidence in the amount of goodwill that the united states had won for itself by supporting the rebels against gadhafi. >> let's talk about a few controversial points in your amazing article that appeared in "the new york times" on that sunday a couple of weeks ago. dianne feinstein, chair of the senate intelligence committee, is quoted as saying this. she said, "i believe groups loosely associated with al qaeda
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were involved in the attack. that's my understanding." loosely associated. you suggest in your article, no evidence of a direct al qaeda involvement. are you with her when she says there was a loosely coordinated attack -- an attack that was loosely coordinated with al qaeda? >> well, i believe what she said was affiliated but, more importantly, her spokesperson walked back those comments that she's not disputing my report. that whatever words we're using, she's talking about what i'm talking about, which is local groups on the ground. some of whom may openly share sympathies with al qaeda or its goals but none of whom were taking direction from al qaeda. none of whom were not part of al qaeda. this can't reasonably called an al qaeda attack. >> what are the relations between sharia and al qaeda? >> ansar al sharia of
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benghazi -- >> i think we're having some problems with skype. david kirkpatrick is joining us. let's try to reconnect with david because we were just getting to the really important questions, questions that erases in that "new york times" article. we'll try to reconnect with david. hopefully that's what happens -- hopefully we'll be able to do that and update you on what we know. clearly, major developments on the whole benghazi investigation right now. stand by. we'll continue this conversation if we can reconnect with david. just ahead, does hillary clinton have a hidden problem in iowa? why she needs to be careful of stumbling out of the gate, even if she's not yet in the race? and can chris christie keep his white house hopes alive? he says mistakes were made in the scandal but will he clear up the controversy? when it comes to good nutrition...i'm no expert.
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ee. we've managed to reconnect with correspondent david kirkpatrick from cairo. david, we're talking about your reporting in "the new york times," there was no al qaeda connection with the attack in benghazi that killed the u.s. ambassador and three other americans. dianne feinstein of the senate intelligence committee saying that groups loosely associated with al qaeda were involved. i think she's referring to ansar al sharia in benghazi. you were about to describe what that connection may be, a loose connection between al qaeda and the attack in benghazi. explain what you learned.
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>> there's no connection between the two groups and i don't think -- >> unfortunately, i think that's is it. we've lost connection. wait a minute. david, are you here? >> i'm here. >> explain, there's no connection between al qaeda and what happened in benghazi. >> yes. ansar al sharia is a local group and i think everyone would agree. they broke away from another connection in 2012 in june. they are absolutely are militants. they hate the u.s. in that sense, you might say that they share some resemblance with al qaeda but so do a lot of people in this part of the world. they are not an arm of al qaeda. >> all right. what about this other notion that the video, the anti-muslim
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video you report did play a role in sparking the attack in benghazi, resulting in the death of the four americans. dianne feinstein said in this interview in "the hill" newspaper, that doesn't, quote, jive with the information that she had but go ahead and tell us what you know. >> well, i would say it was at least a catalyst for the attack. as i said, certainly many of the people who spearheaded the attack, disliked the united states before that video came along and may have been looking for an opportunity to hurt a u.s. interest in libya. that said, we had a journalist on the scene who interviewed guards outside of the complex. some of the attackers during the attack. they were obviously and clearly animated in their anger at this film. there's no denying that that didn't play a role in motivating many people who came to the scene. >> so what, if any, mistake, from your perspective, did the united states ambassador, susan rice, the united states
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ambassador to the u.n., now the national security adviser, make when she went out on those sunday talk shows? >> it's an obvious mistake that she would have acknowledged. there was no street protest like there was in cairo that night. this began as an attack. a plan to provide the attack. we get into a little bit of false dichotomy here. it could have in part motivated by the fill. that might not make sense to you, unless you've been to eastern libya and realize just how many people are ready to be armed and move on that kind of attack at any time. >> this is unrelated to libya and cairo. i'm worried about what is happening in egypt. the potential there for some real violence. how worried should we be about a real civil war unfolding? >> you know, i'm not able to
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make predictions. that's not my line of work. certainly in recent memory egypt has experienced an armed violence and there are signs that something like that may be happening again but it's too soon to tell what kind of legacy the last three years are going to have over egypt. its revolution, it's election, it's all up in the air at this time. >> the decision by u.s. congress, it's looking like it's going to reinstate the entire $5.5 billion a year many military assistance to egypt. how is that going to play there? >> i don't think it's going to surprise egyptians. i think people here, especially people in government, have realized for quite some time that what the u.s. cares about is stability and that includes maintaining its alliance with as long as that person is whoever they can deal with.
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>> david kirkpatrick is a correspondent in cairo. thank you for those technical glitches with skype. stuff like that happens and our viewers here in the united states and around the world certainly understand that. thank you very much for joining us. >> it's good to be here. other news we're following, including news in new jersey, the governor there, chris christie, went before new jersey lawmakers today for its state of the state address. right from the top he tackled the traffic scandal that's threatened to undercut his own white house hopes. listen to this. >> now, the last week has certainly tested this administration. mistakes were clearly made and, as a result, we letdown the people who are entrusted to serve. i know our citizens deserve better. much better. now, i'm the governor. and i'm ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch, both good and bad. and without a doubt, we will cooperate with all appropriate
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inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again. but i also want to assure the people of new jersey today that what has occurred does not define us or our state. this administration and this legislature will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the people's lives in new jersey to be delayed for any reason. [ applause ] i am the leader of this state
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and its people. and i stand here today proud to be both. [ applause ] but also those of you who know me know that i am always, always determined to do better. >> let's discuss what we just heard with our chief political analyst, gloria borger. >> he said mistakes were made. he did not say he made them but he said mistakes were made and pledged cooperation with the authorities in getting to the bottom of these issues. he got it out of the way early. he said what he needed to say and when he got the round of applause it was because of his use of the word delay. >> he got a nice standing ovation. >> if you watch the pictures, it's the republicans standing
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up. most of the democrats sitting down. he did exactly what he needed to do by getting to it first. his trademark is to be blunt and get it out there. it's tarnished right now but now he has to cooperate. he said he will cooperate. people will be subpoenaed by that committee. this is a first page in the chapter of chris christie. we don't know what the chapter is going. >> assuming he hasn't lied or anything like that, there's no smoking gun, could all of this help him showing him he's a straightforward kind of guy? >> well, in many ways he's going to be defined by how he handles this mess and how he gets himself out of it and by showing cooperation, by standing and answering reporters' questions, you were there, what, two hours the other day. he gets back to his brand which is that i'm a truth teller and that, you know, i want to lead the state of new jersey. he needs to get away from the
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partisan, vengeful bullying narrative that has now become the default narrative for him. he needs to start getting back to where he was when his popularity was higher, when people thought he was presidential and when they trusted him more. >> but he's lost everything that he had coming out of that huge re-election win. people don't fear him as much anymore. democrats are criticizing him saying that he's embarrassed the state. the state democrats will feel more emboldened to challenge him. they view him as such a threat if he could win the republican nomination. there's still a huge question. are republicans going to nominate another northeastern moderate? it goes beyond this current environment. but, but, the political environment has changed so dramatically where he was the golden boy of the politics, not just republican politics but american politics. >> there's a stature gap now. when people vote for a
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president, they want somebody who's exulted to a certain degree, somebody that they trust and look up to even though we don't love our politicians. they still believe there's a different kind of playing field for president. and i think now what christie is suffering from is a little bit of a stature gap here. he needs to get that stature back dadthat he had after sandyd people felt that he actually knew how to get things done and work for his constituents instead of working against them. we're going to have much more on this later, guys. thanks very much. we're also going to have a special report on the state of chris christie. the entire scandal, full coverage of that coming up at the top of the next hour. other top stories we're following here in "the situation room," a shooting at a new mexico middle school sent at least two children to the hospital. officials in the town of roswell say they were called to the scene after 8:00 this morning. the school was put on lockdown and police say they have a
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suspect in custody. no word on the victims' conditions. not yet. just a short time ago, efforts to extend unemployment benefits for more than one million americans fell short in the united states senate. two proposals failed to clear procedural votes as lawmakers grapple with a time frame for additional benefits and the costs. both sides say they hope to continue talks. we'll see where that goes. jpmorgan chase is replacing two million credit cards compromised in the holiday attack on target. that's a fraction of the 110 million cards impacted. peop neiman marcus was also hacked. other companies were likely hit. the president and the pope planning to meet. secretary john kerry said during a vatican visit today, the president will sit down with pope francis at the vatican. the white house doesn't have a specific date yet but alluded to a et mooing in the ne meeting i
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future. coming up, is hillary clinton facing a rocky road through iowa if, if she decides to run for president again? taking a closer look at some of the potential problems she could face in that critical state. plus, president obama welcomes the nba champs back to the white house. we'll have details of how he compares himself to the miami heat. my lenses have a sunset mode. and an early morning mode. and a partly sunny mode. and an outside to clear inside mode. new transitions® signature™ adaptive lenses now have chromea7™ technology making them more responsive than ever to changing light. so life can look more vivid and vibrant. why settle for a lens with one mode. experience life well lit. upgrade your lenses to new transitions® signature™. ♪
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hillary clinton is the clear
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democratic run for president. could she face some problems with her foreign policy record? joining us now, cnn political reporter peter hamby and "time" magazine michael crowley. state representative brian in des moines said this. "clinton needs to become more populist. hillary is a front-runner for a reason. a lot of people support her. but there is a group of progressives that want to see who gets in." democrats right now, they are the ones who would participate in a caucus, they are not yet convinced that she's the one. >> part of this is, eiowans wan
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to be supported. there's been a lot of writing with bill de blasio of new york. that's alive and well in iowa. you have that ideological anxiety about hillary clinton but you also have an emotional anxiety, too. democrats like to look ahead. they like to be told a story and grabbed by the heart strings, unlike the republicans who nominate the next person in line. i got a sense they nt want to s some new faces. >> is that why barack obama beat her in 2008? >> that was it and a lot of it was her vote for the war in 2002. there's a very strong anti-war strain in the democratic party out there and hillary clinton was not able to sort of overcome that vote. barack obama tapped into it. john edwards tapped into it a
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little bit and she finished in third place. >> michael, you got an excellent piece in "time" magazine as well talking about her foreign policy record and why potentially that could hurt her. you write this. "clinton pressed obama to arm the syrian rebels and later endorsed air strikes against the assad regime. clinton may have been the most reliable advocate for military action." how is that likely to play in iowa or new hampshire and places like that? >> it's going to be problematic. she was too far to the right in 2008. i think the iraq war gave obama the vote. it really crippled her chance at the white house. since then, she's not really tapped back to the left on those issues. time and time again she advocated military intervention,
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even in places where it was very unpopular. the afghanistan war, which people were not happy about, and the libya operation. the good news for her is that, of course, when she ran against obama in '07, '08, the iraq war was just a nightmare. it looked hopeless and was incredibly unpopular and sort of the number one issue on everyone's -- in everyone's head and now foreign policy has receded. we're out of iraq and we're winding down afghanistan. so the good news for her is people won't be interested in those issues but you go through where she stands, she's just as far as she was and the country and the party have moved left. >> so there may be an opportunity for others to challenge her like barack obama did in 2007? >> i think these issues will be debated. to michael's point about these topics receding, i was out there
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as former governor. name her and those concerns were much more economy driven talking about wages in the middle class and income and equality and those kinds of things. but i think michael is right. her sort of hawkish foreign policy record is going to be addressed. he says there are two democratic parties. the iowa democratic is the passivist wing. in addition to hillary clinton, i don't see a lot of differences between biden and hillary
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clinton with the foreign policy issues. >> one exception is afghanistan. biden was skeptical of the afghanistan surge. he thought we could do it with drones and special forces. you could see them having an argument about that. you could also have an interesting lineup in the general election. imagine rand paul is the republican nominee. i could imagine a republican running to hillary's left on these issues saying she wants to get us mixed up on libya and syria and send boys to afghanistan for what? these issues are churning. >> two great articles by two great reporters. thanks for coming in, especially "time" magazine, our sister publication. i want to recommend our viewers go there and read peter's excellent article on hillary clinton. lebron james and company are back at the white house. the president congratulated the miami heat on the nba championship and cracked some
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jokes at their expense and his. >> i have to say, i have never seen folks more excited than the heat when they came last year. i mean, lebron was so pumped up. i thought he was going to give me a hug and knock me over, like the guy in sports center who hit the half-court shot. they won a team record of 66 games. at one point they won 27 games straight. the second longest winning streak ever. extraordinarily impressive. almost as impressive as the bull's 72 win season. this group has now won twice but it's gone to the finals three times and sometimes it feels like they are still fighting for a little respect. i can relate to that. i heard that all of you are getting ready to embarrass yourselves by singing karaoke for the education foundation.
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just leave al green to the pros, people. >> the heat presented a t-shirt that said "potus" meaning president of the u.s. with the number 44, meaning he's the 44th president. tomorrow night, here at the verizon center, i will be at that game. let's see how the washington wizards do against the miami heat. up next, a third person in the cockpit. could that have caused the pilots of the southwest airlines plane to land at the wrong airport? and old-school light bulbs. are they winners or losers in the congressional new spending deal. we're taking a look at both when we come back. welcome back. how is everything?
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a significant decision in oklahoma right now. a federal judge there has just struck down at least part of the state's ban on same-sex marriage, stayed the enforcement until appeals are exhausted. jeffrey toobin is here, our senior legal analyst. explain what is going on. it sounds similar to what we saw in utah, not very far away from oklahoma. >> well, this just happened minutes ago so i'm trying to figure it out. as far as i can tell, it's very similar to utah with one very important exception. as you recall, the utah judge struck down the utah ban and allowed couples to get married
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right away. the oklahoma ban, in my opinion, on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional but i am staying, that is, i'm delaying the imposition of my order. >> basically, they learned a lesson from utah where thousands of couples got married. the state is not recognizing those marriages for at least now. the federal government is recognizing those marriages but there are no more same-sex marriages taking place in utah right now. >> i think you're exactly right. i think this judge learned a lesson of what happened in utah. he didn't want to create the uncertainty that there is in utah. however, what this means is two of these decisions are now heading to the court of appeals and i think in a larger sense what it means is that the united states supreme court is now growing ever more likely to have to take one of these cases and decide. the really profound question that was at the outside of the
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earlier same-sex marriage cases before the supreme court but now is at the center which is, does the constitution require that every state in the union allow same-sex couples to get married? that core issue the court very much side-stepped but i think it's -- the day is approaching faster than many of us thought that the supreme court is going to have to revise that issue. >> eventually the supreme court is going to have to make a final decision. >> when you have different judges reaching different results here they are reaching the same results but ultimately other judges are going to have different results. when you have so many judges addressing the same question, that's really why we have a supreme court. another decision by a federal judge to reject that, what, $760 million settlement between the nfl, some players over concussions. what happened here? >> this is a pretty unusual situation. most time when federal judges are confronted with a situation where the plaintiffs say it's
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okay with us, the defendants say it's okay with us, the judge signs on. but here i think it's such an indication of the tremendous medical uncertainty surrounding football at this moment. the judge said, look, i'm not sure $700 million is enough. you look at how many players are potentially at risk and how severely injured so many of them are. she said, look, i want you to go back to the drawing board and persuade me that this number is right or come up with a different number and i'm not satisfied that all of these football players that are so damaged with the medical science still pretty uncertain that this is enough money. >> so where do we go from here? >> the parties go back to work. the nfl and the lawyers representing the union, see if they can work out another deal, then try to persuade the judge that it is fair one but if they don't reach a bill, then
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presumably there will be a trial and a judge and perhaps even a jury will decide how much the players, if at all, if any amount of money they are entitled to. >> jeffrey, thanks very much. other news we're following, there's a potential new clue in the mystery surrounding that southwest airlines plan that landed at the wrong airport. we're learning about something that may have taken the pilots' focus when they were about to touch down. what are we learning? >> new details suggest that a third person was in the cockpit, an airline dispatcher. dispatchers work on the ground, coordinate flight planes and help reroute planes. we don't know why this person was authorized to be in the cockpit but it's not unheard of. that dispatcher is now on paid leave along with the pilots. when southwest 4013 came in for a landing at the wrong airport with a dangerously short runway, the two veteran pilots had company in the cockpit, an
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airline dispatcher in the jumpseat behind the pilot and co-pilot. something that is common and airline approved. investigators want to know if that third person created a distraction. landing at the wrong airport means one thing. >> inattention. now, whether that was for distraction, fatigue, or what the underlying cause was. >> reporter: an faa rule says only conversations related to takeoff and landing is allowed. it's attempting to eliminate distractions. it makes the rule clear on the website. cockpit voice recorders will tell investigators if it was violated. the ntsb is now reviewing the recordings. they plan to interview the crew and dispatcher. drug and alcohol tests are complete but they are awaiting results. >> there's a myriad of reasons that will be looked at so they
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can come up with the probable cause and say, okay, how do we mitigate this so it doesn't happen again. >> as for the plane, one day successfully after taking off from the wrong airport, it's back in service, suggesting that this investigation is focusing on human factors and not mechanic mechanical mishaps. >> we have photos of the recorders that we now know the ntsb will be looking at to get more information. those are the recorders right there. they are currently reviewing them. this is new information. this new information about the third person in the cockpit is one of many factors investigators are going to be looking into and right now we should say just because that individual was in the cockpit, we are not saying at this point that led to the mistake that the pilots made. additionally, wolf, we do know from a source, they say that the faa reviewed the controllers'
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actions and they found no wrongdoing. wolf? >> rene, appreciate it very much. no fiscal cliff, no government shutdown. what is wrong with the congress, if anything. republicans and democrats have now agreed on a roughly $1 trillion spending package. it still has to be passed by the house and the senate. it's more than 15 pages long but our capitol hill reporter lisa spent hours and hours pours over these pages. she's here with us right now to talk to us about winners and losers and it's still got to be passed in the house and then the senate. who are some of the winners and losers? >> congress finally rolled up their sleeves and did hard work but, think about this, this bill may be the most important policy legislation that congress passes this year. first winner off the top, little kids.
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actually, this bill would add $1 billion in spending over the budget cut amount to head start programs across the country. adults are winners there as well. federal workers and active duty military would get a pay raise of 1%. first, here's a winner that a lot of people may not expect, old-school light bulbs. they are not that efficient but they are very popular. this bill would ban a program that was trying to sunset those light bulbs but, wolf, here's the deal about that. as much as the federal government may not enforce that ban, manufacturers may stop manufacturing them on their own. >> there's some losers, too? >> yes. the epa quote after this bill that they have cut the agency by 20% since 2010. how about an entire nation,
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russia. russia has some things in here that vladimir putin will not like. more missile defense in europe and one last one, this is sort of another unexpected one, painters, portrait artists. this bill would ban the government from paying for any newpo new portraits for officials. at $10,000 a pop, those add up fast. >> the house has to pass it, the senate passes it, and then they'll be in business. lisa, thanks very much. >> you got it. just ahead, explosive remarks by a top israeli official. they are sharply critical and deeply personal. just getting word of an apolog from that israeli. stand by. when jake and i first set out on our own,
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apologizing for extraordinary remarks about secretary of state john kerry. those remarks infuriating the state department. tell us what the defense minister said, the apology and reaction. >> you don't get more critical or more personal than this. secretary of state john kerry has come to us determined and acting out of an incomprehensive able obsession cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the palestinians. even gotten criticism from netanyahu who levelled criticism at the u.s. here is his apology coming in a
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short time ago. israel and the united states share a common goal to advance peace talks. the defense minister had no intention to cause offense to the secretary. the secretary was offended. the white house and state department calling his comments offensive and inappropriate. >> and another matter the president is going to make a major announcement about nsa reforms on friday. today there was a hearing on capitol hill. what happened? >> led by the chairman of the judicial committee. we are three days away from the president's announcements of how he is going to change the program and the divisions still very sharp and strong. senator asking questions about whether the administration has exaggerated how many attacks this sort of mass data collection has. the pushbacks asking the members
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of the panel could this program have prevented 9/11? and the answer it may have. on friday what we will not hear from the president is that this collection will end. most we hear are add aed safe guards and added restrictions. >> citizens that will be involved in the court to make sure that they protect security and safety and privacy for americans. thanks very much. at the top of the hour a special report on the scandal swirling about the new jersey governor chris christie. we have new developments in the chemical leak that left hundreds of thousands of west virginia residents without safe water. it began on her vacation in europe on the day she arrived in london. someone set up a bogus hotspot, stole her identity and opened some credit cards in her name. but she's not worried.
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new developments in the chemical leak that left hundreds of thousands in west virginia without water. in charleston west virginia. what is the latest? what are you hearing? >> the attorney general's office says they plan to get to the bottom of what happened here and their investigation will look at everyone, not just the company where this chemical leak happened. now, this development comes as the water ban is lifted in yet another zone in this area. >> i hope people aren't just thinking this is west virginia. this could happen anywhere. >> reporter: it is a scenario some people fear could happen again, a chemical leak from a tank that gets into the water supply shutting down restaurants and businesses and forcing people to rely on bottled water for days. usable water is flowing again for tens of thousands of people in charleston, west virginia.
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questions about the level of government oversight at the plant where the leak happened and how it happened linger. >> how many people have to be drinking poisonous water before we realize there is a reason for government and regulation in this country. >> reporter: sally kohn says lack of government oversight throughout the country could cause what happened in west virginia to happen elsewhere. >> we have companies that are working with dangerous chemicals in pretty much every city in every town all across this country. and that's fine on some level. we like corporations. we like corporations to do innovative things and good for them to want to make a profit. we need to balance that with effective regulations. >> reporter: some say regulation isn't the issue. it is implementation. >> i am confident that there are regulations to protect the health and safety of the american people.
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>> reporter: in charleston mayor jones believes the investigations will provide some answers. >> if there had been environmental violations they will -- that will come out in the depositions. >> reporter: so far more than 20 lawsuits have been filed in this incident. >> thank you. happening now, a special report, state of the scandal. governor and presidential prospect chris christie facing the people of new jersey and the nation. he says mistakes were made but fails to address critical questions about the bridge closing controversy. and bridge gate's toll with christie's popularity and his administration under fire, can the republican's white house hopes survive? we want to welcome viewers in the united states and around the
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world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." governor chris christie knew he couldn't ignore the political scandal that is exploding in his face when he began the state of the state address a few hours ago. but the new jersey republican didn't spend much time talking about the bridge closing controversy or breaking new ground. the future of his administration and his would-be presidential campaign may now hinge on a series of investigations. our brian todd has been looking into what is going on, chris christie's speech, the latest on the scandal. >> reporter: mystery still mysteries. have to do with theories being talked about as to why lanes on the gw bridge were closed down. the scenarios are out there because there are so many unanswered questions about who is targeted and why. we still don't know the real reason why had lanes were closed
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on the gw bridge but governor chris christie is trying to move beyond the scandal. >> without a doubt we will cooperate with inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again. >> reporter: as two investigations ramp up three theories emerged. the most prominent was that it was political retribution for not endorsing christie in the reelection bid. the problem -- >> i don't recall a specific request to endorse. >> reporter: another involves this woman. fort lee is in her district. they had been in a bitter political fight with christie over their blocking of his state supreme court nominees. on august 12 christie pulled one nominee to spare her the ordeal of being challenged. >> i was not going to let her loose to the animals. >> reporter: it was the very next day that christie's deputy
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chief of staff bridget ann kelly fired off the infamous e-mail to a port authority official. does she believe the lane closures could have been retaliation towards her? >> i can't tell you that i believe anything. i can tell you i almost believe everything. but until we really know the truth, do i think the governor has wished to retaliate against me from time to time? absolutely. i have seen it in person. >> reporter: then there is the follow the money theory. on these parcels of land in fort lee near the access lanes a billion dollar retail and apartment project being developed. any problem with the access lanes to the bridge could hurt that development. an article in the talking points memo asks whether lanes would have been closed to jeopardize the development. >> a republican governor talking
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about development and growing in new jersey, i think it is a pretty big risk to do any county, city or town in new jersey to risk an enormous development project. >> did the developers of that project have any dispute with governor christie? we called and e-mailed the company tucker development but haven't heard back. we asked governor christie's office to comment. >> thanks very much. let's dig deeper right now. we are joined by the majority leader of the new jersey state assembly. thanks for coming in. >> thank you for having me. >> i know you are one of the top democrats who launched this committee to investigate the bridge scandal. which resonates the most for you? >> reporter: you know, to ebe honest with you it could be any
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of the above. i think the better question is which doesn't belong and why? it is probably bridget kelly. those who work with her know she wouldn't have had the authority to make a decision like that on her own to do the bridge closure. >> are you suggesting someone told her to do that? >> reporter: just from our experience she used to be a legislative liaison to our body and report to the executive branch. she was deputy chief of staff. she is someone who is very credible, very decent person, made a horrible mistake here, absolute abuse of power. i would be shocked and i think everyone we have talked to would be shocked if she made this decision independently. it leaves the question who did do it. we know there was an abuse of power. what we don't know and what the investigation is about is how rooted was the abuse of power. >> do you have indication whether or not she will agree to answer questions, testify or
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take the fifth as one of the others implicated in all of this has done? >> we have no indication of how she will conduct herself. we are interviewing outside council. we will be hopefully making a decision tomorrow that has the expertise to handle an investigation like this. obviously as many people reported new jersey has a legislature of 120 people. we do not have an overwhelming budget. this is unique and different. i believe we need to supplement our staff. when we subpoena certain people the method by which we go about it and the order is something that i think we heading up the committee and chairman want to make sure we are doing a very methodical and systematic approach. >> you will subpoena her, can i assume that? >> reporter: wolf, i have used this phrase but i think she would be low hanging fruit. i think clearly bridget kelly is named in the e-mails would be
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people that we would subpoena. they are people that we have already identified. whent that happens, how it happens and really the final call i would leave under our advice and council of the attorneys we are about to hire. >> now, the person who took the fifth, former port authority official, he is obviously at the center of this, as well. he is the one who received the e-mail. here is what the governor chris christie said on thursday at the nearly two hour news conference. >> i have had no contact with david wildstein in a long time, a long time, well above the election. you know, i could probably count on one hand the number of conversations i have had with david since he worked on the port authority. >> he was appointed by the governor to the port authority. "wall street journal" posted this picture.
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this picture took place in september. there is the governor and right next to him is wildstein. what do you make of this? >> reporter: wolf, i had a chance to see that picture earlier today. again, this is one of the areas and the governor knows this better than anybody, people are going to parse his words very closely. what is the definition of i haven't talked to him in a long time? is it six or seven weeks before the election. the governor rose to prominence because of the culture and style he created. the question is whether or not the culture back fired on him. he is a political animal. he has been incredibly successful. i can't imagine someone less than six and seven weeks out from his election with the traffic jams being reported on national news for three or four days, the governor would not on september 11 when he stood with mr. wildstein ask him what the hell is going on here. i can't imagine he wouldn't have
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seen it on the news and wouldn't inquire to the people at the port authority or to the department of transportation commissioner. >> what do you think of his remarks today in his state of the state address? >> reporter: he is under enormous pressure. i thought he was much more subdued today than the governor who kind of comes in charging the mountain compared to what we have seen from previous state of the states address. i don't know if he is trying to change the style because of the crisis that is going on. i don't know if he is trying to change the style because he recognizes, hopefully so, that some of the culture created this. i think he can be who he is. i think he can be tough, passionate, emotional. i think when it crosses to bullying tactics that we have seen that is the problem. he continues to aologize for the actions of his staff and the betrayal that came upon him.
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the real apology i think needs to be to the people of fort lee and the residents of the state of new jersey. people aren't looking for an apology because he was betrayed. they are looking for an apology because of the abuse of power. >> the majority leader of the new jersey state assembly. thanks for joining us. >> reporter: thank you. thanks for having me. we will have more on governor christie's speech today, his attempt to damage control the bridge scandal. the 2016 presidential race could be decided in part by what is happening in new jersey right now. [ male announcer ] we could say a lot about the most track-tested is ever... but the truth is... we don't have to. the experts have spoken. now it's your move.
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we are back with our special report on the scandal on a
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possible presidential front runner, new jersey governor chris christie. when he gave the state of the state address today the stakes were higher than imagined before the scandal broke. it is pretty amazing when you think about it. >> reporter: wolf, as you know one of the arguments that chris christie has been making when he tries to pitch himself as a presidential candidate for the republican party is that he is somebody who can win over democratic voters. he showed that last november with an overwhelming reelection victory winning over women voters, latino voters. he likes to think of himself of somebody who can build bridges but unfortunately for him bridges have a whole different meaning. governor chris christie seemed regretful. >> last week i certainly tested this administration.
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mistakes were clearly made. >> reporter: the new jersey republican took responsibility for the bridge scandal currently dogging his administration and he promised -- >> without a doubt we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again. >> reporter: not in the room today bridget ann kelly, deputy chief of staff to christie whom he fired thursday after allegations she pushed to close lanes on the george washington bridge as an act of political retribution. kelly has yet to speak publicly about the scandal. >> i want to reassure the people of new jersey today that what has occurred does not define us or our state. >> reporter: if not for the scandal head lines today we would have likely been focusing on christie as a man with an eye on a potential 2016 presidential bid, a republican governor of a blue state talking about reducing taxes, the on going
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recovery from superstorm sandy and helping new jersey's education system. >> it is time to lengthen the schoolal day andal school year in new jersey. >> reporter: while urged to put politics aside new jersey democrats were less inclined. >> this is, again, an opportunity to promise people everything and deliver nothing and not providing the funding to go along with it. >> reporter: many christie supporters seem to be quiet over the last week or so. today they came to his defense following the speech. >> i trust the governor's word. when he said he doesn't know this is a former u.s. attorney who indicted over 100 politicians. the last guy to lie to the cameras is christopher christie. >> reporter: next week when sworn in to second term the question will be whether the future will be defined by investigations into the scandal. the next step for democrats is
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tomorrow they will announce the lawyers doing the work of the investigating committee. and on thursday the members of the special investigating committee will be named, as well. >> jake tapper joining us from trenton, thanks very much. let's discuss with our political commentator in trenton and our chief political analyst here in washington with me. what is the political climate there like, ryan, right now in new jersey? >> reporter: it is interesting. there has been this amazing reversal here. for years chris christie has dominated the state politicly. today he was supposed to be at the height of the power, giving the state of the state and dominating the legislature for another term. instead you have a group of frankly back benched democrats who fielded a sort of no-name or relatively no name candidate last year and who had been
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divided and beaten by chris christie for years. suddenly they are attracting the attention of the international media and milking the story for all it is worth. it is kind of amazing reversal. >> it certainly is. gloria, how does he manage, chris christie, to re-establish the confidence and trust of the folks there? >> he started it a little bit today by taking responsibility for this. i would add that he said mistakes were made, not that he made the mistakes. he said he is going to cooperate. he has spoken in absolutes about this that he had nothing to do with this. so as this story continues to unravel that had better be the case because he has made it very clear that he says he has had nothing to do with it. i think a line of argument against chris christie has been established with the public, that he is petty, that his
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administration was vengeful. if he wants to reverse that narrative he does have to get something done in a bipartisan way and has to get this story over with. it doesn't look like it is going to end anytime soon. i don't think it is easy. as ryan points out, those democrats who have been so ready to pounce on him now believe they have an opening and are going right through it. >> he did try today, as you know, to release some substantive proposals extending the school year and extending class time, housing related issues. can he do some substantive stuff liket that that dwwill deflect from this problem? >> i think that what some of the legislators told me is that there will be two tracks in which democrats and republicans will work with christie on some of the substantive issues.
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at the same time both chambers here in trenton are running parallel investigations. there is an ig investigation being run out of washington over the separate issue of the sandy aid. there is an ig investigation being run at the port authority over the bridge issues. and the u.s. attorney's office is looking into the bridge issue. even as he may work here and his agenda won't be completely at a stand still think of how many simultaneous investigations he will be dealing with for the rest of the year. there is no sense that these things will be wrapped up quickly. >> gloria, nice standing ovation, at least with a lot of republicans when he spoke nearly two minutes at the beginning of the speech on the scandal. >> he said the work for the people of the state of new jersey will not be delayed. and i think the use of the word delayed was on purpose. and i think that is why he got that kind of standing ovation because i think democrats had to
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applaud that. he has a real uphill battle here to get cooperation with the democrats in his own state. and, also, there are republicans out there gutting for him particularly those like senator rand paul who is probably going to run against him in a presidential race. they are looking for anything to attack chris christie with right now. and the bipartisanship which was the key to his appeal is clearly falling apart. >> thanks very much. just ahead we have new information about the other investigation that chris christie may be worrying about right now involving the superstorm sandy relief fund. cnn investigations is staying on this story. my husband to pay or bill, and he forgot. you have the it card and it's your first time missing a payment, so there's no late fee. really? yep! so is your husband off the hook? no. he went out for milk last week and came back with a puppy. hold it. hold it. hold it. at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. get the it card with late payment forgiveness. did you run into traffic? no, just had to stop by the house to grab a few things.
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governor chris christie struggles to put the so-called bridge gate behind him and facing a federal investigation for so-called funds. cnn investigations first reported the story yesterday. got new information. what are you learning? >> reporter: we first told you yesterday that federal investigators will auditt the state's tourism marketing campaign that was paid for with sandy recover ery money. part of the controversy is because the winning bid was $2 million more than the next lowest bid and because the tourism ads featured chris christie and his family while running for governor. today i spoke with president of
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sigma group. she told me the evaluation committee proposed putting chris christie in the commercials. >> none included the governor, none of the concepts featured the governor. given how high profile he is and he is a beloved figure in the state it wasn't surprising that they asked us if we would be open to him being featured. our response was very neutral. >> now, christie's critics were very vocal that it gave him an unfair advantage in the gubernatorial race though many said he was the face of sandy recovery so it made face. >> they say the committee came up with the idea of putting christie and his family in the ads. you are learning more about the makeup of this committee. >> we are learning that the committee tasked with choosing the firm includes a key christie ally. in fact, the committee members
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all work for the christie administration. perhaps most controversial of all of those people is someone named michelle brown, the ceo of the state's economic development authority, one of the six voting members on the committee and she has a long history with chris christie. when christie was u.s. attorney brown was a prosecutor under him. she resigned after revelations that christie gave her a $46,000 loan in 2007 and he hadn't reported he had given it to her. >> how did she manage to get back working with christie after all of that? >> after she resigned she went into private law practice. in 2012 christie named her as head of the economic development authority. the others are tied to christie's administration. one is the chief of staff to christie's lieutenant governor and represents from the community affairs and treasury departments. >> basically just to wrap it up there is an audit underway to
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see if this was appropriate using chris christie and his family in this ad, taxpayer money involved. we should know when? when we will get a result if it was appropriate or inappropriate. >> of course, the hud inspector general overseeing this running an independent investigation. they won't talk about timing here. congressman frank pallone said he expects it will be a couple of months. there will be a public report released once the investigation is over. >> congressman pallone. chris, thanks very much. remember, you can always follow what is going on here in the situation room on twitter. tweet me. tweet the show. that's it for me. "crossfire" with special guest donna brazil starts right now.