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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript - Benghazi

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CROWLEY: Joining me now, Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky and in Kentucky today. Thank you so much, senator, for joining us. I want to bring to your attention --

PAUL: Good morning.

CROWLEY: -- a couple of inside other poll numbers. The first one had to do with the Benghazi attack. The question was, did the Obama administration try to intentionally mislead the public on the Benghazi attack? And 50 percent of Americans said no, the administration did not try to intentionally mislead on Benghazi.

On the subject of the IRS and the question was, did White House officials direct the IRS to concentrate on conservative political groups? Fifty-five percent said no, the White House did not order it. So, if you take those in combination, I want to ask you what your answer to those questions are. Number one, I know you do believe that the White House deliberately misled Americans on Benghazi. PAUL: Well, you know, I think what's more important than either whether I believe that or whether the polls show that is that somebody be held accountable.

And not so much for the talking points afterwards. I think there was some misdirection and some political nature to the talking points, but I think that's always missed the point that what's most important is someone made a decision to put an embassy and consulate in a war- torn country with no host country to guard that embassy or consulate, leaving the guarding and security up to a militia. That decision alone was a terrible and tragic error.

PAUL: And that's what needs to change.

The review board looked at Benghazi, but still, no one is saying what I keep saying over and over again, even now, I think the embassy in Tripoli should be under the guard of military command similar to what we do in Baghdad. We shouldn't treat Tripoli and Benghazi like Paris. We need to treat it more like Baghdad.

And that's an error of judgment that the president and the secretary of state made. And that comes into account not because we just want to blame them, but because we want to make sure this doesn't happen again.

CROWLEY: So, the president specifically asked in his Rose Garden appearance this week that Congress join him and give more money for precisely what you're talking about to go to some of these outposts that are dangerous and to increase the security around them. Are you on board?

PAUL: Yes. And in fact, in my budget, I increased marines, embassy guards, and security. And I think they should make those decisions, but they, I think, continue to make decisions that really aren't in our best interests. So, the president continues to find more money to send arms both to Egypt as well as Syria when maybe we should have more money spent on the defensive nature of being able to defend our embassies around the world.

CROWLEY: One of the things our poll showed is that most Americans think Republicans have every right and they approve of Republicans looking into these controversies, and yet, there's always the danger that this looks a lot more political than it does policy. And I want to turn you to your remarks in Iowa, which we all know that has a political overlay, where you said that you thought because of Benghazi, Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, isn't qualified to be president.

She should be disqualified to be president. When you make remarks like that and you may make similar ones when you go to New Hampshire, another place with great political overlay, doesn't it undercut the idea that this is about policy?

PAUL: Well, I absolutely stick by them. You know, in Bill Clinton's administration, when Les Aspin did not provide security in Mogadishu, the famous Black Hawk Down, he was asked to resign and he left and admitted he made tragic errors.

CROWLEY: Sure, but nobody asked him --

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: Excuse me?

CROWLEY: It isn't the calling for her to or saying, look, I don't think she's qualified to be president, it's that you did it in Iowa or New Hampshire which gives it a political patina, and I'm asking you if you think that's helpful?

PAUL: You know, I've done it in every state and every stop because I think it's pretty important that she accept blame for not providing security. She was asked repeatedly to provide security in Benghazi on several occasions including direct cables, and she says she never read the cables on security. I find that inexcusable and a dereliction of duty.

Whether it has political overtones or not, it really goes to the heart of who you are as secretary of state if you do not provide security for an embassy that's begging for it, that's absolutely a dereliction of duty and she should have resigned and accepted blame for it.

CROWLEY: So, moving on to the IRS problem at this moment, which is really sort of in its infancy, there will be lots more hearings coming up this week and probably after that. Everyone we've heard from, so far, at the IRS, and this includes interviews with folks at the Cincinnati building where this was alleged to have started.

They all say this is not political, that this was an attempt to kind of get a hold of this influx of applications for tax exempt status. Maybe you do, I don't know how that process works, but we do know that this one place processes 70,000 applications. Can you see in your mind's eye a way that this might not have been political, that this was a misguided stupid way to sort, but that they didn't intend it to be some kind of political attempt to harass the Tea Party?

PAUL: I would think if there's any chance that this was a mistake, the investigator general wouldn't be coming out and saying otherwise, and the IRS themselves wouldn't be admitting --

CROWLEY: Well, they say it's a mistake. The question is whether it's political.

PAUL: Well, I think we're going to have to see the memorandum. Apparently, there is a policy, and I think we're going to find that there's a written policy that says that we were targeting people who were opposed to the president. And when that comes forward, we need to know who wrote the policy and who approved the policy. I can't believe that one agent sort of started this, one rogue agent started this, because it seems to be too widespread. And, we do need to get to the bottom of this, but I think what the American people want is just like on Benghazi.

Why does Benghazi go on? No one was ever fired? So, people made tragic errors. No one's accepting responsibility and no one was fired. Same with the IRS, they're having some commissioners resign who were going to resign already, and people still saying what was their policy? Who wrote the policy, and now, there's rumors that who wrote the policy is the person running Obamacare, which doesn't give us a lot of confidence about Obamacare?

CROWLEY: Senator, I have to run. I'm way over on this, but I have to just go back to something you said. Are you telling me you think there's a memo somewhere in which someone said in the memo we're targeting people who are going after the president? Is that what I heard you say?

PAUL: Well, we keep hearing the reports and we have several specifically worded items saying who was being targeted. In fact, one of the bullet points says those who are critical of the president. So, I don't know if that comes from a policy, but that's what's being reported in the press.

CROWLEY: OK.

PAUL: And reported orally. I haven't seen a policy statement, but I think we need to see that. CROWLEY: All right. Listen, thank you so much for joining us, Senator Rand Paul. We appreciate it.

PAUL: Sure.

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