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CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript - Benghazi Hearing


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BURNETT: Back with breaking news tonight, after intense pressure, the White House has just released about 100 pages of e-mails that detail the back and forth between the CIA, the State Department and the White House as they discuss the controversial talking points surrounding the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

OUTFRONT tonight, Representative Peter King of New York, he is on the House Intelligence Committee. He's been one of the outspoken on this issue demanding transparency. Good to see you, sir.

Congressman, I know you've had a chance to read through these e-mails. I've had a chance to read through them. Are you satisfied these are the answers that you need and that they have given all the information?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Well, first of all, they haven't given all the information. There are thousands of pages of e-mails. But even allowing just for these 100 pages, to me this makes it clear in the final result, these were not CIA talking points. For instance, on page 61, you have the CIA public affaIRS office saying we revised these talking points because of State Department concerns. The changes were made because the State Department, not because of what the CIA wanted to do.

And page 95, you have the director of the CIA, General Petraeus saying, I'd just as soon not use this. You have the director of the CIA say he would rather not even use these talking points. But he said in the end it's the final call of the National Security Council. So, these were not a CIA product. They were revised dramatically.

And also, as you mentioned before, all of our references of al Qaeda were taken out. You have Victoria Nuland saying she wanted the references to al Qaeda taken out because she said there is not enough evidence for her to defend that from the podium. There also wasn't enough evidence to defend the fact that these -- that this attack resulted from a spontaneous demonstration, yet she wanted that kept in. So every doubt was resolved in favor of the administration's narrative that this was a spontaneous demonstration caused by a video.

BURNETT: And Congressman, let my follow up on that point. Because as you point out, Victoria Nuland, the spokeswoman for the State Department did raise a lot of concerns, right? She didn't want the warnings in there which of course, CNN's reporting neither did Mike Morrell. Also saying don't blame Ansar al Sharia when we're not sure. And I can't say that from the podium.

But there is also another question I have to you, which is from the very beginning of this e-mail, Congressman King, the sentences in here that these attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Nobody at least from these emails, from any part - not Petraeus, not the CIA, no one questions that. Is it possible that that is indeed what the CIA thought?

KING: Well, let me tell you. I can't say what General Petraeus said at the first hearing. But I can tell you he came back to testify on November 16th after he left the CIA. And it was reported in the media that he said that from the very first moments, he believed this was a terrorist attack. And obviously we know what the State Department people on the ground said, that it was a terrorist attack.

I believe that there was a narrative put out by the White House early on, which has worked its way in from the start. Because Petraeus himself said later on he thought it was terrorists from the start. We know testimony from people on the ground that they thought it was terrorists. We know Ambassador Stevens thought it was a terrorist attack.

So, again, I think this raises questions about the CIA - CIA. And you also have Mike Morrell making the changes apparently over the objections of David Petraeus, who's the director. So, how does Morrell, the number two guy, get to make the changes when the director thinks these changes should not be made?

BURNETT: There does seem to be some discrepancy there. But it also seems, I mean, to ask you the question, are we ever going to find out who put the words in "spontaneously inspired by protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo"? Because, of course, by this trail, it appears that's what the CIA was done with and handed over for conversation. So, it appears to back up the White House's assertion that that came from the CIA.

KING: I agree. That's the way it's there. But again, if you go back to what General Petraeus said after he left the CIA -

BURNETT: It doesn't match.

KING: -- he thought it was terrorists from the start. Now, if he thought it was terrorists from the start, and this is a question I asked, if he thought it was terrorists from day one, why did his initial talking points refer to it being a spontaneous demonstration? Was there White House interference from the start? Because again, the two just don't jive, especially when we hear testimony of those who are on the ground, which the CIA had to have access to.

BURNETT: And one final question, sir. Does this change your view on whether Hillary Clinton should be taking more of the blame? Obviously, the one person requesting -- again, from the e-mail that's we have which are incomplete but yet there are 100 pages of them -- the one person requesting the changes in e-mail is the spokeswoman for the State Department. Does that then go back to Hillary? Do you blame Hillary Clinton more? Or is that an unfair thing to do?

KING: No. I have a great regard for Secretary Clinton. But I think she'll have to answer in detail why this happened. You know, was she in contact with Victoria Nuland? Was she the one dealing with her directly? Did this happen below her level? How did this all come about? Obviously, Secretary Clinton is a key player here, and she'll have to explain what happened and why it happened and was Victoria Nuland acting on her own? Where did that come from? Why was she so intent on removing al Qaeda? Why were they so definitive about that when there was -- again, going back to the original CIA talking points, if the spontaneous demonstration was in there, so was the references to al Qaeda. Why did one come out and the other stay?

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman King.

KING: Erin, thank you.


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