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CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript


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Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is one of them and he is OUTFRONT tonight. Senator good to talk to you again, appreciate your taking the time. Now, I know you have written a letter --

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Erin, it's good to be with you. Thank you.

BURNETT: -- and you, sir, have asked for all of the information, all of the cables that Ambassador Stevens may have sent to state. Obviously I am sure you are trying to find out was he worried he was on a hit list for al Qaeda? Was he worried about security? What's been the response so far to your request for all of this information?

CORKER: Well, Senator Isakson and myself sent the letter two days ago. We've heard nothing. But let me just in listening to what was said, I want to tell you that when we had the briefing, after the event, the director of National Intelligence, this was probably 10 days after the event occurred, was part of that briefing. So this has been the strangest thing. They've turned an incident that all of us care about. We've had four Americans who have been killed. We have bipartisan concern.

Everybody on the Foreign Relations Committee, Republicans and Democrats, want to know what has happened, Erin. But for some reason it's not forthcoming and let me just say and typically in these briefings, we know what's happening in nuclear armaments. We understand what's happening in some of the most private developments between our nation and other countries. And not just to have a basic briefing about how four Americans were killed at one of our consulate offices to me is beyond belief and they've turned something into what many of us believe is almost a scandal and that not coming clean with what's happened. So obviously, a lot of us are concerned. We really don't understand because this is not typically what happens after an event like this.

BURNETT: And you, when you talk about a scandal, it's when we put it in quotes, I'm using your words, "Benghazi-Gate".

CORKER: Well you know typically when there's an event unfolding, we are in these briefings. We are aware of what's happening. Sometimes, you know, the facts are not clear and they share with us the facts are not clear. In this case, the briefing, Erin, was beyond belief. I mean we were told nothing. We still have been told nothing. Media outlets like yourselves know more. You had a correspondent I think on the ground at the consulate who apparently has found some documentation of concerns by this ambassador that by the way, we all knew and loved, and so I don't know what's happening here. I just find it incredibly strange when in a bipartisan way everyone wants to understand what's happened, but the administration has been unbelievably not forthcoming.

BURNETT: And I'm curious from your perspective as to why you think there is such hesitance on the part of the administration? The White House and the State Department -- I'm obviously not referring to intelligence officials, who from our reporting, have been saying that al Qaeda linked or inspired groups were involved from the beginning. Why do you think there would be hesitation from the White House from the State Department to use those words, al Qaeda?

CORKER: Erin, we have briefings non-stop, telling us about what al Qaeda has done in many cases, I don't know. Secretary Clinton to her credit is someone who's earned the respect of people on both sides of the aisle.


CORKER: Because she's typically someone who is very transparent and very forthcoming with what's happening. The meeting we had was almost as if she had been told not to say anything. I don't know. It's strange to me. Again, this is not the kind of thing that you would think would warrant this kind of secrecy and I think it is causing people to just wonder what has happened. We're responsible, Erin, for people on the ground all around the world. And I think all of us want to know what happened with this particular consulate. Were we warned? Did we do the things security wise that we needed to do as a nation? And that's our responsibility and I think that most Americans would want us to understand what has happened and to do everything that we can to keep this from happening to other public servants who are out there risking their lives --


CORKER: -- in the name of our great nation.

BURNETT: And Senator let me ask you, "The Washington Times" reporting tonight that in addition to the cuts on security that would happen if consulate and embassy security around the world as a result of the sequester, there have been nearly $300 million -- $296 million in cuts in just the past two years in embassy security around the world, as a result of Congress. So do you think that you also are partly responsible for what happened, the lack of security?

CORKER: Look, those cuts have not yet taken place, but I couldn't agree more that we need to find a much better solution than the sequester process that's been kicked in and I think all of the blame for that not working --

BURNETT: What about the cuts though that happened in the past two years --

CORKER: -- I don't --

BURNETT: -- the ones in the past two years -- I'm sorry -- the 296 million.

CORKER: Yes -- yes -- yes -- let me say 296 million out of all the vast billions of dollars that go to our military infrastructure and to our embassies, I assure you that if we had an ambassador that felt like that -- like his life was threatened, we could easily find the moneys within the vast sums of money that are spent this way to make sure that these people are protected. So again, candidly, it's hard to imagine what it is the administration does not want to share. It's hard to imagine what that is, but again on a bipartisan basis, people want to know the answers and I appreciate you bringing attention to it and hopefully very soon we'll understand why there's been such a shroud of secrecy around the killing of four Americans who are serving our country.

BURNETT: All right, Senator Corker, good to talk to you again. Appreciate your taking the time out from your evening.


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