msnbc | November 19, 2012
>> meanwhile back home in washington, congress is off for a week for the thanksgiving holiday, lawmakers are vowing to get to the bottom of intelligence questions in the immediate wake of the deadly attack of a u.s. consulate in libya , including whether ambassador susan rice 's so so-called talking points were altared the weekend after she gave that announcem of the attack.
>> she didn't know anything about the attack in benghazi and the most politically compliant person. i don't know what she knew, but i know that the story she told was misleading.
>> the debate on the hill intensified by general david petraeus ' testimony friday that they suspected terrorism from the very beginning.
>> why do you tell the american public something that is different in meaning? it should be perhaps leave out the details or the sources and then --
>> well, again, though, the details here were al qaeda .
>> before you get to the question of what susan rice should or shouldn't have said, i think that we need to know the answer of who changed the talking points and why.
>> okay. so let's get to the bottom of this and say good morning to the political power panel. we have susan page , and msnbc analyst karen finney and also a columnist for "the hill" and also the campaign manager for rick sanitorium's campaign. and so let's go over the time line of what we know for september 11th , the attack of the compound happening september 11th and then by the friday, certain lawmakers on the hill say that general petraeus believed that there was terrorist involvement in it, and then on that sunday, the 16th, that is when ambassador rice went on five morning shows saying it is the result of a spontaneous protest. so by the 16 ths, was the information classified or not?
>> well, thomas , it is a question i cannot answer, but it is a question that we will get an answer to, because the republicans won't let it go especially if susan rice is nominated as secretary of state, and there are questions that the administration will be forced to answer in a more detailed way than they have, and by the way, it stings me as this is a side issue to what ought to be the central issue of the benghazi attack which is why wasn't there better security at that consulate to have repelled this attack? i mean, it is curious to me that there is so much interest on the time line when this more substantive issue seems to be left behind .
>> karen , moreen o'dowd talked about the defense of ambassador rice, and we all saw the president's defense of her, and some wonder if susan rice has a bull in a china shop reputation is diplomatic enough to do an diplomatic job but she would have been wise to be a more bull in a china shop. shouldn't she have been privy to more information and isn't it her job to go out with what is releasable?
>> absolute ly. thomas , one correction to at least my understanding of the series of events is that remember on that sunday, i mean, she did caveat every single appearance by saying that this is what we know now, and the change in the talking point seems to have been from a direct l link to al qaeda and terrorism to extremists, and we have learned in the course of this investigation, that there was a covert cia operation operating on those grounds, and perhaps part of the reason they pulled back some of the information was to protect that operation or trying to protect certain assets that may have still been on the ground or to protect the names of libyans working with us which were subsequently released under the ignorance of jason chaffetz and congressman issa. and the real question is security, as susan said, but do we have the adequate assets in libya . we have not been in libya for a long time and why didn't we know more about the fact that this kind of thing was coming and is it because we have not been there and we need more intelligence assets?
>> certainly more questions than answers we have so more. and hogan, while all of this is stirring on the hill, we have the fiscal cliff talks going on or supposed to be going on as we enter into the holiday week. congresswoman nancy pelosi made some headlines about this comment about tax hikes for the wealthiest americans .
>> would you accept a deal that does not include tax increase s for wealthy we have seen some capping income rates for high income earners -- is that acceptable at all?
>> not at all?
>> no, the president made it clear that there is not enough resources and what you have just described is a formula and a blueprint for hampering our future.
>> okay. hogan, some of the gop are open to higher taxes for the top earners and senator mitch mcconnell came out after the talks last week, and took the microphone with pelosi and with reid and boehner at the side saying that revenue is on the table, but when the talks ramp back up after thanksgiving, is this an issue to be real negotiation or dig-in time?
>> i hope it is time for a negotiation. look, if there is one thing that we learned from the president's campaign, he promised to raise taxes on the wealthy. and here is a news flash to the republicans out there, elections have consequences, and that is what he wants to do, and i'm sure he is going to accomplish some of that, but on either side when you dig in before the negotiations start, not only does it look bad, it makes the markets go up and down, and it creates instability, and insecurity among the people out here in the country feeling the pain and the brunt of some of the economic policies and the fact of the matter is that both sides need to come into it with some level of give and take, and that is how you govern and get it done, and if the president is going to ak kccomplish the policies that he did in first term that he promised in the second, he is going to have to get some of the folks in line on the right and the left to come together in the tab table.
>> and a good compromise and both sides walk off p.o.'d and nobody so happy. and susan , while traveling the president made a call to the leading ceos and the talk of the fiscal cliff conversation and among them warren buffett and tim cook from apple and still we see reports like this from the " wall street journal " that companies are scaling back the fastest since the recession. can we show up the market report to show what is going on wall street , and the green arrows with the market up 154 points right now, susan . so the president and the congressional leaders are saying they are optimistic about a deal, but is the business sector there really crucial to this buying into it or not?
>> well, i don't know if there is much cause for optimism in the elections as consequences argument that hogan was making, because i don't see the republicans saying that i would agree to higher tax rates just to have more revenues from the more a affluent taxpayers and nancy pelosi said that higher tax rates are the essential part of any deal, but i think that markets have consequences and business decisions have kons consequences and that " wall street journal " story sent a chill up the spines of a lot of the policy makers in washington, because what will drive a deal? the end of the year deadline drives a deal, but also the sense that the economy will slide back into the recession if they don't reach a compromise or reach some kind of agreement, and that is the strongest, the strongest force we have going to force the compromise that many people want.
>> and so, hogan, i want to turn to a comment that lindsey graham made yesterday about mitt romney and the post election comments about gifts. take listen.
>> we are in a big hole . we are not getting out of it with comments like that. when you are in a hole, stop digging. he keeps digging.
>> he is digging, so is the governor a scapegoat for the gop? do we see them basically walking over his back to make some points.
>> well, i have to hand it to my senator here in south carolina , lindsay tells it like it is for the most part all of the time, whether people love him or not. but, look, obviously, they are go ing to put some blame and the republicans are going to put some blame on governor romney and we saw the 47% comments made at the fund-raiser move numbers and both sides jumped on it. the democrats were terrified and the republicans seemed to double-down on it, and he is doubling down on the comments and that is not helpful in the way we want to move forward and after the election the nominee is g is going to smooth over some of his reputation and some of the hits he took by trying to explain away in what happened in the loss and the republicans are going to beat him up for the woes of the party even though he does not need all of the blame and deserve all of the blame, that is what happens after elections.
>> around karen , newt gingrich over the weekend called mitt romney 's comments nuts. louisiana governor bobby jindal has denounced the comments as well ferociously right out of the gate when he heard them. do you believe the republican party as a whole believes it is time for a dramatic makeover, and i was having a conversation with someone over the weekend that they said that they are in so much trouble that we could end up with two parties moderates and liberal democrats .
>> well, newt gingrich believes children should be scrubbing toilets, so let's not go with anything that he believes. the republican party has to decide and they are at a crossroads, are you going accept america as it is and not only reck these that demographics have change and the issues have change and marriage equality and marijuana and lots of things that are on the ballots that people have feelings on and they were bafrnking on it, and do you accept that or hide under the covers to pretend that going after white voters and all of the language of the traditional america , and taking this america back is the way to go. i think that there are great voices like bobby jindal and others and my friend hogan has been there, too, saying, we have to change with the times and we have to modernize the thinking here, and the tension we will continue to see play itself out is which way do they go and which force within the party wins out. i hope that the republican party gets the act together, because the country is stronger when we have good ideas, and not idealology coming from different side sides.
>> the power panel, thank you susan page , and karen finney and hogan gidley, and thank you all and have a good thanksgiving if we don't chat later in the week.
>> thank you, thomas .
>> you, too, thomas .