CNN "CNN Newsroom" - TRANSCRIPT Archives to Consult DOJ Before Releasing Biden Docs to Congress; Interview with Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT): Classified Documents in Bidens Home and Office; Ukraine Mourns New Tragedy After Chopper Crash Kills 14; Family Demands Answers in Death of Southern California Attorney. Aired 3:30-4p ET


Date: Jan. 18, 2023


BLACKWELL: Right, Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah is with me now. He served on the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, good to have you. So, I read the transcript of a recent interview that you did over the weekend in which you said that -- that President Biden's claim this he did not know the classified documents were at his home and at his former office, you called those nonsense. What supports that claim that you say it's nonsense?

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT): Well, if you ever have a chance to actually handle these documents, as I said before, I was an Air Force pilot, I flew the B1. Sitting on the House Intelligence Committee, we have access to incredibly sensitive information. Every single classified document, even if the lowest classification is just secret, comes in a special binder. It's very clearly marked. It's red. It says the classification level and why it's classified. It says who you can disseminate it to. And every single page within that document also has the same markings.

And by the way, every document is numbered. You can't take these documents home with you. You can't even take them -- if you are watching -- looking at them from a SCIF in the White House, you can't take them to your offices in the White House.

And my point being this isn't the kind of thing you have sitting on your desk or sitting on your night stand and you not know that they're not classified or not remember that they're not classified.


The possibility of these being in your home and in your office and you forgetting that they're classified is just, I think, is nearly zero, and that was the basis for that, that someone would have these documents around and think, oh, I forgot they were classified or forgot that I had them.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I don't know that the president says that he forgot he had them. He didn't know where they were, and I'm not on the president's defense team. He has some highly paid lawyers to do that for him, but is it possible there could have been an aide that put those in boxes with personal items marked personals, even a folder marked personal? So that is --


BLACKWELL: Go ahead.

STEWART: Well, I just say that's certainly likely, and, in fact, that's probable. I don't think that, you know, what you have envisioned there is improbable at all. My primary concern is that those aide would have those documents or the president would have those documents outside of a secure location in the first place.

BLACKWELL: Let me also point out that there is a SCIF at the former vice president, now president's home there in Wilmington. Let's turn to the former president, Donald Trump, and get your

thoughts on what he's kept as cool keepsakes. He posted this on social media. When I was in the oval office or elsewhere and papers were distributed to groups or people and me, they would often be in striped, paper folder with classified or confidential or another word on them. When a session was over, they would collect the papers, but not the folders. I've saved hundreds of them. He called them a cool keepsake. Now of course, he saved troves of government documents. He claimed that hundreds of pages of classified documents he declassified. But what's your thought on the president keeping these -- these cool keepsakes, the folders for classified documents?

STEWART: Well, and I haven't read what he wrote. I just heard you read it there, and as I understand are you saying he didn't keep the contents? He just kept the folder themselves.

BLACKWELL: Well, he certainly kept hundreds of documents of classified documents. We know that from the FBI searches of Mar-a-Lago and what was given over in the response to that subpoena, but yes, these folders as well.

STEWART: Well, I don't know -- I don't really know how to respond to that. I guess it's the contents that are classified. I can tell you, you shouldn't separate the contents from the folder. It's the folder that has the initial markings on them. But once again, the president -- both the presidents in this case apparently had classified information, in situations where it wasn't secure and we need to understand that. And by the way, one of the things that those of us on the intelligence committee are anxious to learn is, what was the contents of these documents and what is the potential security threat they may have posed?

BLACKWELL: While certainly, the difference between Trump and Biden, Biden when his attorneys found them, they handed them over to the National Archives. Attorneys for Trump have resisted National Archives requests for more than a year, and the Department of Justice still didn't believe they have all of the classified information in the former president's possession.

Let's talk about committees here. George Santos, why does he deserve to serve on a committee when really there are so many questions about who he even is, his experience, his biography. Do you think he should have these committee assignments?

STEWART: Yes, you know, that's up to the Speaker. And look, I don't know -- I said this before -- I don't know Mr. Santos. I've never had a chance to even speak with him, but it's hard to watch this and not ask these kind of questions and ask if he can effectively serve in Congress. Look --

BLACKWELL: Do you think he can?

STEWART: Well, I don't know. I don't think I could if I were in that situation. He was entirely dishonest with this constituents. He has this enormous challenge now of people like myself, his peers in Congress to earn our trust, and at the end of the day, you can't expel a member of Congress. It's up to the voters of Nassau County to decide. And he's going to have to justify to them which I think is going to be nearly impossible. I can tell you or I in that situation, I don't think I could effectively serve. But that's a question that he has to ask and answer himself, and then if he doesn't, you know, decide that he cannot serve, it's up to the voters of his district to decide.

BLACKWELL: Congressman Chris Stewart, thank you.

STEWART: Thank you.