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CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript

Interview

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BURNETT: And now, I want to bring in New York Republican Congressman Peter King. He's the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and a Mitt Romney supporter.

Chairman King, good to talk to you. What do you make of this issue?

I want to get your action to what Senator Reed had to say. Do you -- do you buy what the president is saying when he said -- was referring to the attack in Libya, when he used the words acts of terror on September 12th? And I just want to add that his press spokesman, Jay Carney, today when he was asked this question repeatedly by reporters said, "Anytime an embassy is attacked by force with weapons and Americans are killed, that is an act of terror under the definition of terrorism" -- as in, of course, people should have known.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Erin, I'm going to use my words very carefully. I think the president's conduct and his behavior on this issue has been shameful. And -- first of all, as far as it being an act of terror, the president was almost four minutes into his statement on September 12th before he mentioned an act of terror. It followed a paragraph in which he was talking after September 11th.

When he -- earlier in his statement, when he was talking about the attack in Benghazi, he didn't say anything about terrorism at all -- nothing about an act of terror. It wasn't until he was well into the remarks and anyone looking at it will be confuse, is he talking about Benghazi or is he talking about September 11th or all acts of terror? So, at the very least, the most you could say for him is ambiguous. But then follow in the next week, when no one in the administration used the words the terrorism at all. Susan Rice -- Jay Carney was going out of his way to say it was not a terrorist attack. The president himself even he went to the U.N. several weeks later was still talking about the tape. They were talking about a demonstration which was never held. They never even acknowledged terrorism.

And I don't expect the president to be able to say on September 12th, this was definitely a terrorist attack. But to deny the fact, to ignore the fact that al Qaeda affiliates from that region, there had been terrorist attacks before, to me, this was politics at its worst, because you're talking about the loss of American life.

BURNETT: You've accused the administration of telling misleading stories and contradicting stories. And to be fair, administration officials, as you point out, did talk about the movie being to blame. They did say the attack wasn't premeditated. They didn't discuss the role of al Qaeda-linked groups and were at least inconsistent on the use of the word "terror".

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on CNN, though, this wasn't the result of confusion, not a result of incompetence, but -- I'm going to quote him -- "sounds like a cover-up". Would you go that far?

KING: Yes, I would. I'm not saying this is a criminal cover-up. This is a political cover-up because it went against the president's narrative. He could not acknowledge that there was a terrorist attack because he had been trying to say al Qaeda was decimated and defeated, when in many ways, al Qaeda is as strong as it was on September 11th. That's not the president's fault. That's the reality of al Qaeda.

This is going to be a long twilight struggle, the same as John Kennedy described the struggle against the Soviets. Al Qaeda has morphed, it's metastasized, it's gone to several different organizations. It changes tactics and procedures.

BURNETT: I guess one question that I have on this though is: who should take responsibility? You know, you saw the debate last night. Obviously, the night before the debate, the secretary of state took responsibility. Our Elise Labott interviewed her in Peru. She said, look, I'm the one who's responsible. The president took responsibility last night.

Are you satisfied with that?

KING: What's she taking responsibility for? She's saying -- now, he's trying to say all along, it's an act of terrorism when he wasn't saying that. His administration was peddling the story that it was not terrorism. That it was a spontaneous demonstration.

Is he taking responsibility for all the false statements, all the misleading statements, all the inaccurate statements? In that case, that's fine. But he wasn't doing that. Instead, he was trying to spin it last night that somehow he was calling it an act of terror or terrorist attack all along. His administration went out of the way. Susan Rice, as she was auditioning for secretary of state on five national shows, went out of her way. She never mentioned the word "terrorism".

The president other than that --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Do you think she should step down? You had said --

KING: Yes?

BURNETT: You would call for her to resign. Do you still think she should -- she should resign or is this now bigger in your mind?

KING: Well, it's bigger. But I think she should because when you have such a misleading of the American people and the world by a cabinet official, a U.N. ambassador, there has to be consequences for this. We just can't somebody to go on television and speaking on behalf of the country.

And, by the way, on that issue, I would like to -- who sat down with Susan Rice? Who gave her talking points? Was David Axelrod involved? Were these White House political people? Did they talk to anybody --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: They tell us, no, that they were not.

KING: -- in Benghazi.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Chairman.

KING: Susan Rice, she -- OK. They have a lot to answer for here.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, sir, and good to see you. We appreciate your time.

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