Return to Transcripts main page


Rep. Mike Pompeo: Benghazi Cover Up Worse than Watergate; Accusations of Strippers, Escorts, Sex Parties to Recruit Basketball Players at University of Louisville; What Happened to Carly Fiorina. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 21, 2015 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sheriff's office, we're told, is conducting an independent review of this shooting.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alina, thank you so much.

Also new this morning, on a very similar note, a New York City police officer, though, is dead after being shot in the head while chasing a robbery suspect. 33-year-old Randolph Holder and his partner, they were responding to a call about someone being robbed at gunpoint in east Harlem. Police say the two were then chasing down suspects. Shots rang out, hitting Holder in the head. He died hours later in the hospital.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It was a pretty chaotic scene overnight. Dozens of officers, once he got to the hospital, lined up outside to salute their fallen colleague. Officials say the suspect was wanted in connection with a previous shooting. That suspect is in the hospital this morning and is expected to be released into police custody. Holder is now the fourth officer killed in the line of duty in the last 11 months.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, basketball recruiting gone wild. Allegations of strippers and sex parties used as tools to draw players to the University of Louisville.


[11:35:32] BOLDUAN: A huge day shaping up tomorrow on Capitol Hill. A showdown that could have fallout reaching all the way into the 2016 presidential race. Hillary Clinton versus the Republican-led House Benghazi Committee.

BERMAN: This is the committee that one Republican member said last week, let's face it, it's political, trying to score points against Hillary Clinton, but Republican leaders say they are focused on the four Americans who lost their lives at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya, in Benghazi, September 11, 2012.

There's a lot of talk about what's going on inside the committee. We have a man on that committee, Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas. He joins us now live.

Congressman, thanks for being with us. REP. MIKE POMPEO, (R), KANSAS: Great to be with you, John.

BERMAN: One of the things we've heard over the last several months, don't criticize the committee because you don't know what's been happening. This morning we heard from Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who is on the committee, and he said after 17 months, after $4.5 million, we haven't learned anything new that contradicts the core conclusions of the eight other investigations that went on before. Is he wrong?

POMPEO: Yeah, Mr. Schiff's just dead wrong. It's unfortunate that the Democrats on the committee haven't lifted a finger to help us get the answers about these four Americans who were killed. We've been working at this. We've conducted dozens of interviews. We'll speak with former Secretary Clinton tomorrow. We'll continue our investigation after that. Just two days ago, we received 1300 additional pages of documents. These are e-mails from the senior person on the ground who was then killed, Ambassador Stevens. This investigation continues, and I'm confident that the American people will see our hard work in getting answers about how it is the case that these four Americans were killed and what America needs to do to reduce the risk that something like this could ever possibly happen again.

BOLDUAN: Now, Congressman, on this investigation, you said Sunday that it is worse in some ways than Watergate. Someone who knows something about Watergate is Carl Bernstein, one of obviously the reporters who uncovered, exposed, the Watergate scandal. He said this about that comparison.


CARL BERNSTEIN, REPORTER & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's no resemblance between Watergate and what we're watching now with Benghazi and Hillary Clinton. Watergate was about a criminal president of the United States who presided over a criminal presidency from his first days in office till the last. Whatever Hillary Clinton has done, it is nothing resembling that, and it's time to get the decks cleared on that once and for all.


BOLDUAN: Did you overreach there, Congressman?

POMPEO: Not a bit. In many dimensions, this is worse than Watergate.


BOLDUAN: What dimensions?

POMPEO: Remember, we had four Americans killed here. That's unique and different. Remember, too, that we had a secretary of state who had a private server and then erased 30,000 of those e-mails without any third party ever having a chance to look at them. I'd add to that, we still have many, many unanswered questions that we've got to get the facts about. And so I stand by that statement. In many dimensions, this is worse than what happened there. By the way --


BERMAN: Watergate was a criminal conspiracy, though, Carl Bernstein is saying.

POMPEO: That's correct.

BERMAN: At many different levels. Where is the criminal conspiracy here?

POMPEO: Well, sir, we have an active FBI investigation still ongoing, trying to determine the scope of the risk to national security that was presented by what was potentially classified information not contained in a classified space. The FBI doesn't investigate things and spend resources without it being a very serious matter.

BOLDUAN: So all eyes now tomorrow on Capitol Hill, on you, on the committee, on Hillary Clinton. What exactly -- if you had only one question for her, what's the one question you want answered?

POMPEO: Ma'am, I can't boil it down to one question. We've got a lot of information that we want to get. She was the senior diplomat for the United States when our first ambassador was killed since 1979. We have a lot of things that we need to learn. She has unique information, and I am optimistic that we'll get those facts tomorrow.

BERMAN: So the committee does have a perception problem. And we've seen the chairman now trying to battle that perception problem over the last few days. There's a poll that came out about 25 minutes ago, and it asked people what they thought about the Benghazi Committee. Look at that. 52 percent say they believe the panel was more interested in going after Clinton than learning the facts. How can you turn that around tomorrow?

POMPEO: So I have to tell you, I'm focused on our mission. I served in the Army for a number of years. I know how to stay on mission. We have a single goal. It's to ensure that something like this can't happen again and to hold those who were responsible for these four Americans being killed are held accountable. It will be our mission tomorrow. I think the American people will see that. I think they'll see a back-centric investigation and a set of inquiries tomorrow. And then after tomorrow they'll see our committee write a report that I think will explain to the American people why we've been doing what we're doing and why it was important that this committee was established.

[11:40:24] BOLDUAN: But doesn't -- I understand that you stay on mission and you say you're going to find the facts and you're going to follow the facts where they lead you, but doesn't perception matter? If this poll had said that 52 percent thought you wanted to learn the facts rather than take on Hillary Clinton, I can promise you a lot of Republicans on that committee would be sending me that poll personally. Doesn't the perception of what the American public believes Congress is doing with their dollars matter? POMPEO: Yes, ma'am. But there's only certain things that one can

control. In my life, I've found that there's things we can impact and things that we cannot. Our task is to do our job. To perform our mission and to communicate what it is we're doing and we're doing that. And I am optimistic that tomorrow folks will see that. I saw today the Clinton campaign put out a video trying to castigate what this committee is doing. No member of our committee has politicized this in that way. That is a fundamental politicization of this committee. And I just think that's unfortunate.

BERMAN: Can I close with one admittedly political question not about the Benghazi panel? Can I just put up the latest ABC News poll, which shows Donald Trump way out in front in the presidential race? You are a Republican office Holder. How do you explain the current state of the Republican race with Donald Trump out in front for such a long time?

POMPEO: I think the American people are taking a good, hard look at a whole bunch of our candidates. I am excited about the field. We've got great leaders, many of them from the next generation. I think this is going to be a great discussion over the next several months, and I am confident that our nominee will be successful a year from now.

BOLDUAN: You say focused on your mission in Benghazi. You're also good at staying on message when it comes to presidential politics.

BERMAN: Congressman, appreciate you being with us.

POMPEO: Thanks so much, John and Kate. Have a great day.

BERMAN: It will be a big day tomorrow, the Benghazi hearings, Hillary Clinton testifying. CNN will cover it all. We will bring you live coverage beginning at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Do not miss a single second of it.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, still, she took on Trump, and by most accounts, she won.


CARLY FIORINA, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER CEO, HEWLETT PACKARD: I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.



BOLDUAN: Carly Fiorina, she seized that moment during the Republican debate, CNN Republican debate, and the polls showed it afterwards. But now where did Carly Fiorina go? A big drop in the polls. Can she turn it around?

BERMAN: Strippers, escorts, sex parties, all trying allegedly to allure basketball players to one of the most, you know, successful college basketball programs in the country right now. How confessions from a call girl and a few former players may put a famous coach -- may put his job on the line.


[11:47:33] BERMAN: New this morning, one of the nation's most successful college basketball programs under fire, sex, cash, strippers, allegations of x-rated recruitment. According to ESPN, five former recruits confirm the Louisville Cardinals' former assistant coach paid women to strip and have sex with them at parties. One of them says, quote, "It was like I was in a strip club."

BOLDUAN: The new allegations come after former -- a former escort released a tell-all book about it. In the book, she says the former assistant coach paid her $10,000 for supplying dancers. And head coach, Rick Pitino, he still says he had no idea this was happening.

Let's bring in CNN sports anchor, Rachel Nichols, for more on this.

Where do you want to begin? What is going on here?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I mean, high school seniors right now all around the country are doing their college visits, right? Do you think their parents want them sent off to the school who would then provide them prostitutes upon arrival? Not good. The allegation here that this woman made in her book. And ESPN went and found five former recruits and players that backed her up, is that basically they used this as a recruiting tool. And she describes how these stripper parties then turned into sex, including with some of her own daughters. Take a listen.


KATRINA POWELL, FORMER ESCORT: He would start the music, and usually the girls would come out one by one and they would dance for the recruit. He asked me, is there any girls that want to, you know, make extra money, pretty much side deal with the players? And I was, like, I'll ask. So I asked the girls, you know, anybody want to make extra money? And their eyes just lit up like, well, yeah. I said, does Pitino know about this? And he said, "He's Rick. He knows about everything."


NICHOLS: That's a reference, of course, to Rick Pitino, the Hall of Fame college basketball coach, by the way. And he has, as you mentioned, denied any knowledge of this. But then the lawyer for the assistant coach has come out and said, hey, all the money that was alleged to have changed hands here, this guy was a low-paid assistant coach. He said he didn't have enough money to do this. So the question is where did the money come from? And also, even if Rick Pitino didn't know, should he have known? There is a new NCAA rule that came into effect this year that basically holds the head coach responsible for anything that goes on in his program. You would think this would fall under that. BERMAN: No, that's the question there. He's Rick Pitino. He knows

everything. That's what she alluded to there. This is not the guy known as a laissez faire, let the program run itself. What are the implications, you think, for him here?

[11:50:08] NICHOLS: You know, the school as of right now is standing behind him, which a lot of people are scratching their head at even right now. And we are still waiting for a lot of this to come out. Rick Pitino has come out to a couple outlets and said, hey, I'm calling on this assistant coach, Andre McGee, to explain himself. I don't know anything. He's got to explain himself. Making this story more crazy, if it can get more crazy.

BERMAN: He's not at the school any more.

NICHOLS: No, he's not.


NICHOLS: Making the story more crazy if it could get more crazy because come on, strippers, basketball players, whatever, that this all happened on a dorm on campus that is named after Rick Pitino's former brother-in-law, who sadly died in the September 11th terrorist attacks. So if this did happen and turns out to be the downfall of Pitino's career, the fact that this turns out to be another odd element of the recruiting story, and at the odd time, some of the best recruiting classes, Louisville got some of the best players to commit to the school and maybe now we know why.

BOLDUAN: It's absolutely wild, the fact that five former recruits are coming out to confirm the story is astonishing.


BOLDUAN: Rachel, great to see you. Thank you.

Coming up for us, she brought the A-game to the Republican debates, and showed the nation that she can take on Donald Trump and go toe-to- toe with the man, so why is presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, faltering? We'll look at the polls. And we will talk to one of her biggest supporters ahead AT THIS HOUR.


[11:55:48] BOLDUAN: So what happened to Carly Fiorina? The meteoric rise to the top tier of the Republican GOP race. The only woman in the Republican field is now suddenly facing a nosedive in the polls.

BERMAN: In the last CNN/ORC polls, down around 14 percent. A month ago, it was at 15 percent. Now my math is not that good, but that is a drop of 11 percent in one month. How did it happen? Why did it happen?

We are joined by former member of Congress, Nan Hayworth, who is the co-chair of Carly for America, the New York chapter. She joins us here. NAN HAYWORTH, (R), NEW YORK CO-CHAIR, CARLY FOR AMERICA & FORMER


BERMAN: Simply, 11 points in a month, and things were going so well for Carly Fiorina. What happened?

HAYWORTH: And they still are. She is concentrating right now rightly so on the ground game in ay Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire and Nevada. If you look at the polling in the states that she is doing exceedingly well and she is on the ground everywhere. Everywhere she goes, I have seen it personally, first-hand, she has such conviction and eloquence and a depth of knowledge that she makes friends and committed supporters everywhere she goes, and we are seeing that.

BOLDUAN: When you talk to some of the pundits about what has happened to Carly, and what is behind that number drop, a lot of folks say that she did not do enough to mobilize or capitalize on -- after these two successful debates. Is there any talk of changing the strategy or is there any knowledge of a misstep there?

HAYWORTH: Well, truly, there has not been a misstep. She is doing an incredible job mobilizing in the states where she needs to be most to be right now. And if you look --


BERMAN: Well, where is that? Because she is not over 10 percent in any key early voting state.

HAYWORTH: She is in top positions in second and third. On October 4th, in a poll in New Hampshire -- and I don't know if it was a CNN poll -- but she was actually second in New Hampshire. And she has been doing very, very well among the voters on the ground. And that is where she needs to be. If you look at the piece yesterday in the "Atlantic," and look at a graph of the national media coverage and national media mentions, Carly is substance over showmanship. And right now, showmanship is dominating the national media coverage, and those mentions go with the national numbers, but those are not the numbers to watch.

BOLDUAN: I would also say that we will have her on any day to have her on and happily put her on to talk about her strategy and have Carly Fiorina on.

HAYWORTH: And as you know, she is amazing when she speaks. It is wonderful to hear.

BERMAN: And on the national platform -- and I appreciate that she is out there in the early voting states -- but we have our fingers on that, too, and she is not out there as much and she is certainly not even getting the local press coverage that other candidates are, and not necessarily talking about Donald Trump?

HAYWORTH: Well, I would dispute the premise of that, and she has been making remarkable strides among voters who have not known her at all, and if you look at how she has advanced it is by multiples versus where she was before, and she is probably the least known among the candidates, and her debate performance performances, and this is the national stage, and we have seen how that, she gets that response, and the next debate I am sure that it will be the same, but that is what she is doing everywhere she goes across the country.

BOLDUAN: What's the conversation about taking on Donald Trump? I mean, you can see that he is the front runner now, and he has been for the months, and in the latest polls he is at 32 percent, and far and away everybody else. Has it worked for Carly Fiorina to take on Donald Trump? What's the strategy? Because you can't ignore, or maybe you can, at your own peril, but you can't ignore the front runner.

HAYWORTH: The contrast is so clear. Carly Fiorina is substance, not showmanship, but genuine substance. And no other candidate in that field can say what Carly Fiorina can, about having dealt directly with world leaders, like Vladimir Putin, like Benjamin Netanyahu, and she has the experience and the expertise and the conviction, and the intellect that make her an incredible leader and an incredible voice. And she will make a great president.

BERMAN: She'll have it a chance to show it again on the debate stage next week.