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THE SITUATION ROOM
75 Scientists Possibly Exposed to Anthrax; Obama: U.S. Troops 'Not Returning to Combat'; New Terrorist Alliance in the Works?; New Nightmare Scenario; Inside Hillary Clinton's Strategy; Scott Walker's Fundraising Woes; Top Democrat's Shocking Remarks; House GOP Leadership Shake-up
Aired June 19, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Brianna Keilar. She's filling in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM today -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Thanks, Jake.
Happening now, breaking news. Anthrax scare. Dozens of people may have been exposed to live, potentially deadly bacteria.
And back to Iraq. President Obama is ready to send hundreds of military advisors to help Iraq's military, but he insists U.S. troops will not be returning to combat. Sound familiar?
And terrorists heating up as ISIS militants leave a trail of death in Iraq. There are new concerns that they will team up with another al Qaeda offshoot.
And an insult for just about everyone. A potential challenger to Hillary Clinton is not even in the gate yet, but he's already stumbled pretty badly. Why women, gay people and southerners are taking offense.
Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Brianna Keilar, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We begin now with breaking news. Up to 75 government scientists and staffers possibly exposed to the deadly anthrax bacteria. The alert is taking place at the Centers for Disease Control and p=Prevention in Atlanta. Officials say it began when live anthrax samples were moved from a highly secure lab to another lab. Workers there believe the samples were inactive. They did not wear protective equipment.
So let's get more now on this. From CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, as well as our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, first to you. I mean, this seems like a pretty serious breach. How could this happen? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Somebody really
messed up. There's no question, Brianna. There were a couple of major, major blunders here, and you're talking about, as you point out, a potentially highly deadly bacteria. Most people don't -- haven't really thought about anthrax since 2001. Remember, at that time, it killed nearly a couple of dozen people. So this is a major, major mess-up.
Two things seem to have gone wrong here. There was a high bio-safety lab, and they were taking this anthrax and moving it to a lower biosafety lab, one that takes less precautions. And they were supposed to inactivate the bacteria first, wait 48 hours to make sure the deactivation process worked and then move the bacteria.
Those two things didn't happen. The inactivation process didn't work, and they didn't wait to see that it didn't work and that's caused some of the problems. It was at least a week -- it could have been longer -- when they realized that, in fact, what was now sitting in that lower bio safety lab was, in fact, live anthrax. And it could have been aerosolized into the air. And that's prompted a lot of the concern.
KEILAR: How deadly is exposure to anthrax?
GUPTA: It can be deadly. You know, we're talking -- there's three types, the inhalational type, the stuff that you breathe in, that's the most concerning type. If someone got exposed to this, had a known -- got a known infection, did not get treated, had not been vaccinated, I mean, 80, 90 percent of those people will die.
So this is, you know, potentially very concerning. It's sort of counter balanced by this idea that it is hard to get, so to speak, even in that situation, even in that laboratory to actually become infected as a result of the spores in the air. It's not a particularly effective thing at infecting people. But if it does take hold, it's a real problem.
KEILAR: Could it be more than 75 people here that we're talking about, Sanjay? How certain are we that it's just the 75?
GUPTA: I just talked to officials at the CDC, asked that same question, Brianna. It's a good question.
First of all, people outside the building, I think they say pretty clear that there's no risk outside the CDC. The way they arrived at that 75 number was not just the people working in this lower biosafety lab but also people who walked through the hallways around that biosafety lab.
Admittedly, having covered stories like this before, it's not an exact science. Could somebody have walked through at some point, potentially been exposed? It's a possibility. But 75 is sort of the number they're saying right now. They're offering those people antibiotics. Most of them, I assume, will take those antibiotics for 60 days. And I just -- some of the officials maybe offered the anthrax vaccine, as well, if they didn't already have one. KEILAR: I want to bring in Jim Sciutto now. Let's talk about, Jim,
some people might wonder why is anthrax sitting around? Why did they have it?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The reason they have it is to develop defenses against it. Because anthrax is considered the No. 1 or No. 2 bioterror threat from rogue states, rogue organizations, terrorist organizations or other states.
For instance, Russia has been accused of continuing to have a bioweapons program. It's a real threat, so much so that the military has vaccinated two million troops against it. In fact, when I was embedded with U.S. Special Forces during the Iraq invasion 11 years ago, I was given an anthrax vaccine. They do it because they're concerned that it's a real threat.
And you have it now to develop defenses, develop treatments, develop diagnostics for figuring out how long the infection is, this kind of thing. And I know that, in particular, they're interested in following new strains. They're worried about potential enemies, whether they're non-state actors or state actors, developing strains that the preventions and the prophylactics, the treatments we have today can no longer treat. And that's why.
So it's keeping up those defenses, which constantly have to be updated, because the threat is constantly updating itself, in effect.
KEILAR: So when you look at this and you know the precautions the U.S. military takes, aren't you surprised that this was -- that this happened at the CDC?
SCIUTTO: I think so. You know, I spoke to an expert who was involved in the response to the 2001 anthrax attack. And you remember this just after 9/11. A very scary moment for the country.
One, he said you know, it's important to have this, because we have to have it around so we can develop defenses in the future.
The other thing he said is that the risk to the general population from something like this is not great, that this in his view is confined to those workers, still a serious number, 75 people, a very deadly disease. But the folks back home shouldn't be concerned that they're at risk from this.
KEILAR: So Sanjay, it was several days, as you said, that this was sitting in the sort of lower security area. If these scientists were exposed to anthrax between the dates of June 6 and June 13, how long until we're going to know if they've been sickened?
GUPTA: Some people, if they're going to get sick, can get sick very quickly. But usually two months is sort of the outer border of that. You don't quite wave the all-clear flag at that point. But that's typically how long the antibiotics are given, for example, Cipro in this particular case. But if someone's going to get sick, it usually happens in those first two months.
KEILAR: And the worst case scenario is obviously death in some cases.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, look, as Jim said, I mean, this is a very deadly pathogen. And if it gets into one's lungs, and it's been aerosolized, and it's actually able to create an infection in one's lungs, it can be very deadly. As I mentioned earlier, 22 people got infected back in 2001. Five of them died. So you know, you get an idea of just how problematic this is.
It's a little bit offset again by the fact that these people sounds like they're identified quickly, given these antibiotics, possibly the vaccine, and some of them may have been vaccinated. That's going to certainly, you know, dramatically tip the odds in the favor of those workers. This is something they take very seriously.
KEILAR: And it reemphasizes how really serious anthrax is.
Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.
Jim Sciutto, thanks, as well to you.
Now next, President Obama says he is prepared to send up to 300 troops to Iraq -- to advise, though, not to fight he says. But is that just the beginning of a deeper involvement?
Growing concerns, as well, that two deadly terror groups are now teaming up on the ground in Iraq. We have new details on an alliance between al Qaeda's most dangerous spinoff groups.
KEILAR: American troops are returning to Iraq, not a lot of them and not to fight. But is it the first step toward something more?
As a brutal terror group continues its rampage through Iraq, and the country slides towards all out sectarian war, President Obama says he's prepared to send up to 300 military advisors to work with Iraqi forces.
But with the robust U.S. military presence in the region, he's also prepared to strike, if necessary. Our correspondents and analysts are standing by with the kind of coverage that only CNN can bring you. We're going to begin with CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta -- Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, after getting the U.S. out of Iraq, President Obama announced today that the U.S. is cautiously getting back in. As you heard him say earlier this afternoon, he is sending about 300 military advisors into Iraq to assist those forces there to deal with the ISIS threat.
But in the meantime, the president is emphasizing U.S. forces are not returning to a combat role in Iraq. Here's a little bit of what the president's plan looks like, based on what senior administration officials told reporters earlier today: that several small teams of advisors will be going in to form what they're calling joint operation centers and that they are saying discrete and targeted, as they're calling it, air strikes are still possible with more surveillance flights gathering intelligence. But no teams on the ground, they're saying, to call in air strikes.
So at this point, they're not putting in more forces to call in air strikes down the road.
But all of this begs the question about whether or not the president should have left a residual force in Iraq back in 2011. A lot of Republicans say he should have done that. I asked him that question at the news conference earlier today. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq? Any regrets about that decision in 2011?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, keep in mind, that wasn't a decision made by me. That was a decision made by the Iraqi government. We offered a modest residual force to help continue to train and advise Iraqi security forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, of course -- of course, the key sticking point at that time was that the Iraqi government would not provide U.S. forces with legal immunity, should they get into some sort of legal jeopardy in Iraq. I'm told by a senior administration official that those military advisors that are being deployed as of today by the president will have legal protection, will have immunity. As one official put it to me, Brianna, they're going in at the request of the Iraqi government. They'll have that immunity -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Jim Acosta. Thank you. And let's get details on the military moves now from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Brianna, troops like to say it's combat if somebody is shooting at you, even if you don't think you're in combat. So still, a lot of questions about what these U.S. troops will be doing and how they will be kept safe.
STARR (voice-over): Iraqi forces clashing with ISIS fighters in the northern city of Kirkuk as the militants continue to make their march towards Baghdad. President Obama finally weighing in.
OBAMA: We're prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisors, up to 300, to assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward. American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq.
STARR: With ISIS now less than 40 miles from Baghdad, the president also said the troops will keep an eye on the perimeter around the capital to see where ISIS is going next. The U.S. troops -- Army Berets, Rangers and Navy SEALs -- have fought
in combat in the region for years. This time the job is different. They urgently will work to get Iraqi troops and commanders back in the fight. And collect intelligence about the militants' next moves, in case air strikes become necessary.
Already, fighter jets from the carrier George H.W. Bush are flying over Baghdad, conducting surveillance.
The ground troops will operate at several Iraqi military headquarters around the country. Not on the frontlines, but they may well be in danger.
Violence has even spread to Iraq's largest oil installation here in Beiji. So how can U.S. troops be kept safe? Dozens of helicopters and aircraft now based on ships in the Persian Gulf and ashore will be ready to move in quickly if U.S. forces do come under attack, a senior defense officials tells CNN.
But the president outright warning all of this can only work if the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki move to a more inclusive government. President Obama stopped short of calling for Maliki to step down.
OBAMA: It's not our job to choose Iraq's leaders. Part of what our patriots fought for during many years in Iraq was the right and the opportunity for Iraqis to determine their own destiny and choose their own leaders.
STARR: Now, this will all start off with something around 100 U.S. troops going into Iraq in the coming days. But you'll recall, the president said up to 300.
Officials are telling us one of the things going on behind the scenes is that gives the president a little cushion, a sort of automatic plus-up, if you will, so he doesn't have to come back out in public in a few days and say he's sending even more -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Giving himself wiggle room but maybe raising some eyebrows doing that, as well. Barbara Starr, thank you.
The president himself, though, he warned today against mission creep in Iraq. This is a phrase, of course, that has echoes of past wars. So let's take a closer look at why many are concerned. Let's bringing in CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto here once again with this.
SCIUTTO: Brianna, as you and I and others know, this is an administration that has been extremely careful to avoid, or at least place strict limits on, the use of military force in Syria in response to the crisis in Ukraine and now in Iraq.
And yet today, by sending up to 300 troops into harm's way and opening the way to air strikes not just in the Iraq but also possibly inside Syria, the administration is opening the door to a broader, bloodier commitment.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Gulf War, 1990 to 1991. Iraq War, 2003 to 2011, and now in 2014, U.S. forces back on the ground. Is this Iraq War 3?
OBAMA: The United States will continue to increase our support to Iraqi security forces.
SCIUTTO: In the president's words today...
OBAMA: Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.
SCIUTTO: Some heard echoes of President Kennedy announcing the U.S. deployment to the Vietnam.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's their war. They're the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them. We can give them equipment. We can send our men out there as advisors, but they have to win it.
SCIUTTO: Even this relatively small deployment of up to 300 troops, compared to the 165 thousand at the peak of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is generating warnings from surprising corners. General David Petraeus commanded the troop surge credited with saving Iraq from civil war in 2007.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER COMMANDER, CENTCOM: This cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias or a Shia-on-Sunni Arab fight.
SCIUTTO: Calls are growing now that any hope for compromise with Iraq's disaffected Sunnis and Kurds would require Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think that most of us that have followed this are really convinced that the Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any reconciliation.
SCIUTTO: But more broadly, there is reluctance even within the president's own party about any involvement in a war Mr. Obama called dumb.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: After I a decade of war, American people have had enough. American families have had enough.
SCIUTTO: For some Iraq observers, U.S. troops' return is drawing uncomfortable comparisons to America's second longest war in Vietnam.
AARON DAVID MILLER, WILSON CENTER: We have to make sure that when we use kinetic power, military force, it's a tool. It's an instrument to achieve a set of specific objectives. If we don't know what those objectives are or the objectives are unattainable, then military force becomes not only an end in itself; it becomes a dead end. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SCIUTTO: There is one point that I'm hearing consistently from U.S. officials. And that is this is not all about ISIS. ISIS is, in fact, part of a much broader political force comprised of increasingly frustrated and hostile Sunnis, including former Sunni tribes, former Ba'athists and nationalists. And as a result, the singular focus on ISIS's role underplays a much more complicated picture which, in turn, makes it much harder for military action alone, Brianna, to resolve the crisis.
This is -- that is one piece in what it would necessarily must be a much broader strategy.
KEILAR: It is a complicated problem amidst a bunch of other complicated problems in the region. Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.
Now, coming up, shocking remarks by a top Democrat and possible presidential contender. And you're not going to believe the inappropriate things that he says about members of Congress.
Plus, a possible Republican presidential contender now at the center of a federal investigation.
And growing fear the militants sweeping Iraq could team up with one of the world's most feared al Qaeda affiliates.
KEILAR: As ISIS terrorists leave a trail of blood in Iraq, there are new concerns that they will team up with another deadly al Qaeda offshoot. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom has the details on this. He is live from Beirut -- Mohammed.
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, I've learned exclusive today from Yemeni officials just how fearful the Yemeni government is that an alliance is possibly being forged now between ISIS in Iraq and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.
The Yemeni officials I've spoken with say they are very worried about what that means not just for the region but how much of a threat that will pose to the U.S. and the rest of the world.
JAMJOOM (voice-over): Yemeni officials call it a nightmare scenario, the possibility that al Qaeda's most fearsome branch, Yemen's al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, could join ISIS in Iraq.
They point to this audio message, posted on YouTube earlier this week. In it, a man purported to Mahmoud Hafan (ph), a top AQAP commander from Yemen, repeatedly congratulates ISIS and its leadership on its victories in Iraq.
Yemeni government sources tell CNN that members of AQAP are fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq. A U.S. defense official says there is no indication that AQAP has joined with ISIS in Iraq, but the official did say that there are foreign fighters and Sunni militants who are with ISIS there.
Hafan (ph), who has more than 40,000 followers on Twitter, posts others' messages of support for ISIS, like this video from jihadists in Indonesia, singing the praises of ISIS.
Analysts warn any alliance between the two groups could prove extremely dangerous.
JONAH BLANK, RAND CORPORATION: Each group's weaknesses could be filled by the other group. Say one group is very good at bomb making and another group is very good at propaganda. If you put the right bomb in the right place for the right propaganda effect, that can be far more important than either of these things on their own.
JAMJOOM: Yemen is currently on the frontline of a war on terror with al Qaeda. The U.S. embassy there has been shut down for almost two months.
Despite a massive American-backed counterterror offensive that began in April, AQAP has proven resilient and resurgent. Since 2011, AQAP has even been able to take over areas of Yemen. ISIS is making similar gains in Iraq. And analysts say the more territory taken by ISIS and the more the group works with AQAP, the worse it will get.
BLANK: If they carve out an area of safe haven and that's their intent, this could be a launching point for attacks on America, on the west, really attacks globally.
JAMJOOM: Brianna, my sources in Yemen also telling me a small number of ISIS fighters have now made their way to Yemen where they are supporting AQAP in their fight there.
And Brianna, also apologies for all noise. There's a street party just outside our bureau here in Beirut.
KEILAR: All right. Thanks for explaining that, Mohammed Jamjoom.
Stay with us, though. Joining us from Turkey is former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, who's now a fellow at the Washington Institute. And with me here in studio, Doug Ollivant is the -- of the New America Foundation. He's a retired Army officer. He served in Iraq. Also served on the National Security Council in both the Bush and the Obama administrations. He's also a managing partner with the Mantid International -- with Mantid International, I should say, which has clients in security aerospace and defense.
Ambassador Jeffrey, to you first. We're talking about a group, ISIS here, that al Qaeda said was too extreme. How dangerous is this group? It sounds obviously like it's very dangerous and the idea that they could be teaming up should be extremely alarming.
KEILAR: Ambassador Jeffrey, to you first. We're talking about a group ISIS here that al Qaeda said was too extreme. How dangerous is this group? It sounds obviously like it's very dangerous and the idea that they could be teaming up should be extremely alarming.
JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Well, they are dangerous to us as the president said today because of the threat to the homeland. But they're more specifically dangerous to the region because they're purveying a form of Salafist-Sunni Islamic terrorism that's aimed at the Shia minority throughout the whole region. And their goal is to spark a total religious war between Sunnis and Shias throughout the region and that's really something worrisome.
KEILAR: So it's not just Iraq we're talking about. We're talking about the entire region.
Doug, you look -- you worked in both the Obama and the Bush administrations. The idea that will AQAP and ISIS could can be teaming up, what do you make of that? Or maybe they're not joined but we heard in the (INAUDIBLE) report that you have fighters coming over from AQAP to be with ISIS. What do we make of this?
LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Right. So a formal alliance probably not. But working loosely together, as he said exchanging techniques and tactics, having some advance trainers swap back and forth, all kinds of jihadist groups do this. And we shouldn't be surprised that these two franchises -- former franchise in one case, and AQAP, the most capable al Qaeda franchise, are talking to each other and helping each other out.
KEILAR: And Mohammed, Yemen obviously very concerned about this. Is the concern there the regional -- the possibility for regional destabilization?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much so. We've seen AQAP, which is arguably the most dangerous wing of the al Qaeda network be able launch attacks not just within Yemen but to be able to plot attacks against other targets in the region, many times over the course of the past several years.
One of the targets they've consistently tried to attack has been Saudi Arabia. That's the largest oil producer. They share a border with Yemen. They tried AQAP to assassinate the interior minister in Saudi Arabia just a few years ago. They came very close to doing so. So if AQAP is now, as some Yemeni officials fear, possibly joining forces with ISIS, the fear is that much more of the region is going to be at stake and these two very strong groups will be able to plot a lot more attacks against targets here in the region and create a lot more regional instability at a time when sectarian divisions are as deep as they've ever been in this region -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And, Ambassador, we're looking obviously at the acute problem of dealing with the violence in Iraq. But you -- there needs to be a political solution moving forward to having more inclusive country. And right now the U.S. isn't officially saying that Nouri al Maliki needs to go.
You've met with him. It sounds like U.S. officials at this point are very dissatisfied with him. Do you think that he might kind of take that hint and step aside?
JEFFREY: Well, he has dictatorial instincts but in addition he's a terrible commander-in-chief as we saw in Mosul. I don't think he's going to take the hint and step aside. The question is, if his support is in the Shia religious community, in the Shia population generally, and to some degree even in Iran are willing to go for a unified Iraq. There can be no unified Iraq with the sort of policies that he has followed for the last several years.
And everybody wants a unified Iraq. So I think that there's got to be a change of one or another sort, either in him or in the government.
KEILAR: Douglas, talk about some of the semantics here. We heard President Obama today. He said the U.S. will be deploying 300 advisers.
KEILAR: That's something when he's talking about advisors that are prepared to take targeted action, but they're not in combat. It sort of begs the question of how would they not be in combat if they're taking targeted action.
OLLIVANT: Well, they made it clear that these advisors will only be at brigade level and higher. So they'll be sitting in offices not unlike where you and I are, not out on the frontlines, and they'll be looking at the maps in these headquarters and using that to push data back to U.S. missiles or aircraft if the time comes when the president decides we have to do that.
KEILAR: So they're sort of holed up, giving advice. Why is it so necessary to be right there on ground?
OLLIVANT: Well, it's -- the closer you can get the better. And I think the president has made the right decision here. This strikes me as the right balance between getting people out there so they're able to see and taking too much risk. We don't want them really out on the frontlines where there's a risk of someone actually being captured by ISIS.
KEILAR: So Americans shouldn't be, Ambassador, do you think should they be concerned about the possibility of mission creep?
JEFFREY: Absolutely not. Not with this president and almost never in the last 70 years have we seen mission creep once in Vietnam. And we're not going to make that mistake again. The president is pursuing a prudent strategy, as Mr. Ollivant mentioned. And he is ready to act if these ISIS people push forward, thus on an emergency basis, but he's not going to become Maliki's air force until he sees a more inclusive political as well as military solution to taking back these areas that ISIS controlled in the Sunni Arab region. And that's a wise way to go forward. KEILAR: All right. Ambassador Jeffrey, thank you so much. Mohammed
Jamjoom in Beirut, thank to you, as well. And Doug Ollivant, thank you so much for being here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Now still ahead, caught on tape again. Donald Sterling allegedly intimidating witnesses. We have the obscenity laced recordings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD STERLING, L.A. DODGERS TEAM OWNER: I'm not incompetent. You're (EXPLETIVE DELETED) incompetent, you stupid (EXPLETIVE DELETED) doctor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We are following developments with two potential presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Let's talk about this with CNN political commentator Peter Beinart, contributing editor for Atlantic Media, and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, along with CNN chief national correspondent John King.
Peter has written a piece. It's great. It's in the "National Journal." It's about the theory of Hillary. And it weighs her successes and her failures using her Iraq stance as an example of her unwillingness to change course.
But, John, before we turn to Hillary, let's get to the latest on some breaking developments. This has to do with a Federal Campaign Finance investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Scott Walker is the Republican governor of Wisconsin, drew some national fame a few years ago, a big fight with labor unions. Remember there was an effort to recall him in the state. He beat that election. They also beat some efforts to recall some of the state senators who helped him.
And there's been an investigation since, Brianna, prosecutors alleging now a newly released documents released today and that the governor himself, Scott Walker, they named him by name, and his chief of staff were involved in what they call a criminal scheme to illegally coordinate campaign finance operations for those recall elections.
Now the governor's team says this is not true. They also note, and this is important. This it is not a charge -- and the documents were not filed in the investigation itself but filed in a lawsuit related to the investigation, but this is worth watching again he's up for re- election this year and in a 50/50 race, he's mentioned that the potential 2016 candidate, if he wins this reelection campaign, his team is saying they will get through this. But a lot of -- one Republicans who's close them I just talked to him here in Washington says this could be a potential blockbuster.
KEILAR: Really? Amazing. OK. We'll be keeping an eye on that.
Now, Peter, this piece that you wrote is fascinating. You talk about Hillary Clinton's single mindedness, that she has this unwillingness to change. You go all the way back to what was really her first big failure which was failing the bar exam in the district of Columbia. You even talk about some people close to her -- who have been close to her, George Stephanopoulos referred to her as inflexible. One of her good friends, Sally Smith, said that she had tunnel vision.
Explain where this whole sort of theory comes from and why you think this could have ramifications for how she would, say, lead a campaign or lead period?
PETER BEINART, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, ATLANTIC MEDIA: I spent a lot of time trying to understand Hillary Clinton's life and career, you know, in order to try to suggest how she might act as president. I think she's very, very good at executing, developing and executing a well designed plan. She's very, very hard working. Very disciplined. Very good at engaging politically. Very idealistic.
Where she's not as good is at improvising when things are not going according to plan. There's a certain rigidity I think to the way she tends to operate. Sometimes that can be very effective if she's moving in the right direction. But when things are not going right as occurred during the health care reform effort and in her presidential run in 2007, 2008, she has trouble shifting course.
KEILAR: And I guess to his point, Gloria, when you look at this, she's in a way she's been out in the public light so much lately. Are you seeing her having learned some of the lessons?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think she's learned a lot of lessons from the 2007, 2008 campaign. I mean, you remember then she didn't really much -- run much on being a woman. Now we hear her talk about how different it's been as a leader to be a woman. She's not running on inevitability. She understands now that that's not a campaign platform.
I think the big question, though, that Peter raises which is a legitimate one, is she flexible enough to change course mid stream? It's a different thing to do it now from 2008. But the question is, in the middle of the heat of a campaign, can she freelance and change course? I mean, Bill Clinton is of course the most brilliant person at doing this that we've ever seen. And I don't really know the answer to that yet because we haven't seen her in that particular circumstance at this point.
KEILAR: Peter, have you seen it? Have you seen her being able to sort of change course, learn some lessons?
BEINART: Only after the mistake has been made and the -- you know, in a strange way, she's the exact opposite of her husband. Her husband was terribly undisciplined, always -- couldn't follow a linear path at all but would manage to somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at the very last minute. She's in some ways got exactly the opposite I think strengths and weaknesses. Extremely disciplined, extremely hard working. Stays very closely to a script, which can be terrific but when the script turns out to be the wrong script as it was in 2007 and 2008, as it turned out to be in the health care reform, she has trouble improvising.
KEILAR: Yes. And she's stuck on sort of a bad path there.
OK. Let's talk about a potential challenger to Hillary Clinton. And that would be Montana Democrat Brian Schweitzer. OK. This is like my eyebrows, like, hit my hairline, OK, when I saw what he said.
He was making these comments also to the National Journal about Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic Intel Committee chair, and he said about her relationship with the intel community, "Senator Dianne Feinstein was the woman who was standing under the streetlight with her dress pulled all the way up over her knees and now she says I'm a nun when it comes to this spying."
I mean, maybe that's the wrong metaphor -- OK, yes -- but she was all in. I mean, it's one thing to be anti-establishment. Just take it away here. I mean --
BORGER: You think that was the wrong metaphor, by the way? Just maybe?
KING: At least he knew that, but he kept going.
KING: To the point of rigidity on Hillary Clinton. He should have kept going and said, I'm sorry, let me take that back right this minute. I'm making a mistake.
Look, the great thing about Brian Schweitzer is he's funny. He says what comes to his mind. He's a very colorful, very interesting guy. The troubling thing if you're a politician is sometimes you go over the line and that's not funny.
KING: And so if you think -- he's going to get to the left of Hillary Clinton and be the progressive candidate and he's insulting in a horrible way a leading woman? I don't think so.
BORGER: Yes, I don't think so. You know, it just -- I think he's trying to get noticed to tell you the truth.
BORGER: She, what, she's only done like 12 national interviews and, you know, talk about sucking the oxygen out of the room, there isn't any left for anybody else.
KEILAR: OK. Well, let's talk about this. Here's the other controversial remark. He was talking about Eric Cantor. OK? He said, "Don't hold this against me but I'm going to blurt it out. How do I say this? Men in the south, they're a little effeminate. They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV and saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say, and I'm fine within gay people, that's all right, but my gaydar is 60 to 70 percent but he's not I think so I don't know. Again, I couldn't care less. I'm accepting."
BORGER: What is that about?
KEILAR: What is -- what's going on there?
BORGER: It's ridiculous. I'm sorry. He thinks he's talking to like a Montana audience maybe but this is -- I mean this is ridiculous. He's on a national stage and he's -- this is a liberal Democrat? I mean, come on. Does he understand the base of his own party and where his party is?
KING: Again, it's not something you joke about. You don't make insinuations about people's sexuality.
BORGER: Don't. No.
KING: Number one. Look, any good politician knows this. And Peter touched about this really about Bill Clinton. First rule of holes, stop digging.
BORGER: Stop digging.
KEILAR: Stop digging.
KEILAR: All right.
KEILAR: John, Gloria, Peter, thank you to all of you.
Now, next, it's the Tea Party versus the establishment. As Republicans pick new House leaders. Now the votes are in.
Plus, Iraq under attack. CNN's Anderson Cooper joining us live from Baghdad with the latest on the growing crisis and President Obama's decision to send hundreds of military advisers.
KEILAR: A shakeup for House Republicans, they've elected a new leader and a new whip in a closely watched contest that pitted conservatives against the establishment.
CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash has more on this. What's the latest, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Brianna, the House speaker wanted to move very fast in order to limit the tumult and division in the party out of Eric Cantor's loss. And so now there is a new team with some familiar faces. Well, maybe just one.
BASH (voice-over): Little more than a week after Eric Cantor's stunning defeat in his Virginia GOP primary, House Republicans elected a new majority leader in a secret ballot. Kevin McCarthy.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I'll make one promise. I will work every single day to make sure this conference has the courage to lead with the wisdom to listen. And we'll turn this country around.
BASH: Much to the dismay of many grassroots conservatives, McCarthy is hardly new blood. He's been in the House GOP leadership since Republicans took control in 2010 as the number three. House majority whip. And he's from California, not exactly a hub of conservatism.
(On camera): There's probably a lot of grassroots Republicans out there, the kind that voted for Dave Brat against Eric Cantor saying, are you guys kidding me? We got him out because we wanted a more conservative leadership and they elected a guy from one of the bluest states of the union, California.
MCCARTHY: They elected a guy who is a grandson of a cattle rancher. A son of a firefighter. Only in America do you get that opportunity. They elected a guy that's only grown up through the grassroots.
BASH (voice-over): It is true that McCarthy's hometown of Bakersfield, California, is among the most conservative areas of the blue state. But GOP sources admit to CNN, they understood a clear message from Eric Cantor's loss to a conservative is that they needed to bring a red state Republican into the House GOP leadership. There wasn't one before.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), MAJORITY WHIP: Rebuilding an America that works.
BASH: That's a major reason Louisiana's Steve Scalise won the number three job, and is now that new House majority whip. The man in charge of counting and gathering votes to make sure legislation, the GOP agenda, passes the House.
SCALISE: We've got solid conservative solutions that are going to solve the problems facing our country.
BASH: Now this is the race where the drama was, Brianna. There were three men in the race, the rules are that you have to get 50 percent in order to actually win. The thought was, that if it wasn't going to happen, there would be a run-off of sorts. That didn't happen, Scalise won outright.
It is a signal that even people who aren't Tea Party backers, saw the need to get one to the leadership table because the House Republicans are so unruly but it's also another lesson and that is, it's a secret ballot, so even if people say to you, to your face that they're going to vote for you, they might not, and often they don't.
KEILAR: All right, Dana Bash, thank you.
And coming up, Congress versus reporters. Two groups, they don't always get along. But they're playing ball for a good cause, and a great first pitch there.
And up to 300 American troops headed back to Iraq. We'll have that story.
And don't forget CNN's original series "THE SIXTIES" tonight, the war in Vietnam. See how it began and what it took to end it, that's tonight at 9:00.
KEILAR: Happening now, new U.S. military help is on the way to Iraq where terrorist fighters are pushing toward Baghdad. President Obama just revealed his marching orders, can he prevent Americans from getting dragged back into war? The president also is sending a message to Iraq's leaders as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fights any suggestion that it's time for him to go.