CNN "CNN Newsroom" - TRANSCRIPT People Magazine: Suspect Followed Female Victims On Instagram; Source: Alec Baldwin Intends To Finish Production Of "Rust;" Police: Wife Shot, Killed Terminally Ill Husband At Daytona Hospital; Interview With Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH); U.S. To Designate Wagner Group As A Criminal Organization; Buckingham Palace Unveils Plans For King Charles III's Coronation; New Zealand PM: "I No Longer Have Enough In The Tank" To Lead; Justice Department Conducts Search Of President Biden's Wilmington Home And Find More Classified Materials. Aired 6-7p ET


Date: Jan. 21, 2023


BROWN: All right, Arlette Saenz, thanks for laying it out for us.

And joining us now with more is Congressman Mike Turner. He is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

So let's start there with the debt ceiling. We just heard Arlette talking about it. One initiative by Republicans has both Joe Biden and Donald Trump on the same side. They are both slamming Republican efforts to link Social Security and Medicare reforms to the vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling. What is your opinion?

REP. MICHAEL TURNER (R-OH): Well, I don't think it's a linking. I think first of all, everybody is jumping the gun on that. What is being linked, which overwhelmingly the American public want is a reduction in overall spending.

They understand that the out of control spending from the Biden administration is driving inflation, which is impacting them at the grocery store and the store. They want to rein in on spending. If we just without checking spending raise the debt limit, will still be subject to out of control spending.

Now, what's interesting is of course, the administration is now portraying this as an absolute crisis. And mind you, it has only been 18 days ago that Nancy Pelosi was Speaker and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden could have done this three weeks ago if they wanted to. But they've teed it up into the Republican House knowing that the price for raising the debt ceiling is going to be a debate on how do we rein in spending.


BROWN: And I just want to note, too, you are scrutinizing the Biden administration's, but under the Trump administration and previous administrations, trillions of dollars have been added to the debt, and it is an ongoing issue that we hear between Republicans and Democrats, but when it comes to Social Security and Medicare reforms, do you think those should be cut in order for the debt ceiling to be raised?

I just want to hear from you. What specifically, do you need to see happen for a deal to be made? Because as you well know, the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is warning of a global financial crisis if the US debt limit agreement isn't made?

TURNER: Well, first of everybody has openly said, everyone that is in Congress, that is in leadership, and is working on any construct of reduction in spending that Social Security and Medicare would not be caught in any way that affects anyone who is currently receiving benefits or even near term.

You know, I certainly have said that myself and on CNN. So this isn't even part of the debate. This is just part of the political jockeying that the administration is doing on this issue, because they don't want to recognize they could have done this sooner --

BROWN: Hold on, political jockeying, they are saying that they are not going to negotiate.

TURNER: They -- wait, Pamela. They did this -- they could have done this three weeks ago.

BROWN: Hold on, they are saying they are not going to negotiate this. The Republicans are saying they won't lift it, unless the spending cuts are made.

TURNER: Pamela, they wouldn't have to negotiate with anybody. If they did this three weeks ago. They absolutely waited to not get this done, so they could tee it up to the Republican House, knowing that the debate is going to be on spending.

So now that they're in that debate, and it is one that the American public wants to have happen. You can go on any street in America, any Main Street and say, what is the cause of inflation? They're going to say, out of control spending in Washington, and that has been the Biden administration's trillions and trillions of dollars of spending.

BROWN: And also the Trump administration adding trillions of dollars, it is not just the Biden administration.

TURNER: We are not going to sit there and allow this to continue. We are not going to sit there and allow them to continue to do that in the upcoming years. There is going to have to be a debate. The Republicans, because the -- you know, the country said we want a divided government, they gave the House of Representatives to the Republicans, and now the President's going to have to sit down and negotiate with what represents well over a majority of the American public who wants spending reined in.

BROWN: All right, so I want to shift topics. As the new Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, you asked National Intelligence Director Avril Haines to assess the fallout over the Biden document issue.

What is it that you're most concerned about? And has she given you an assessment of the classified documents that Trump had?

TURNER: No. And the in fact, what's really interesting here is that in the FBI doing the raid on Mar-a-Lago, the Intelligence Community, and even the Department of Defense was not involved at all in doing any assessment as to what the records in Mar-a-Lago might be, or even the risk associated with those that had been surrendered from Mar-a-Lago from former President Trump.

In this instance, also, they have not engaged the Intelligence Community, as they were having these documents be on a regular basis coughed up by President Biden as he was finding them in his garage, behind his car, in an office he no longer occupies and we don't even know where he found the other documents that have been given.

Now, what I think is important is that because the Attorney General has gone forward and appointed a Special Prosecutor for the Biden administration, for President Biden on this issue for the documents, there are going to be two really important issues. And the first issue is chain of custody. These didn't start out in his garage. They didn't start out in that office at the Penn Biden Center.

The second thing is, is why did the President take these? I mean, it's been six years that he had these documents. When he left his Vice President's office and decided that he was going to take these classified documents with him, albeit illegally, and as he has said, he understands that because he says, you know, he said that when Trump did it, so now we now know he did it. Why six years ago did he walk out of the Vice President's Office, with documents that are marked classified, and what did he do with them over that six -year period?

BROWN: Those are all fair questions and should be scrutinized. With that in mind, what you just laid out, I want to go back to what you said in August, after the FBI's search on Mar-a-Lago. I interviewed you right after that, and in that interview, you seem to downplay the seriousness of classified documents, being at Mar-a-Lago. Here is what you said.


TURNER: In this instance, we don't really know that these information are classified. The Archive is saying that something is labeled classified doesn't mean that it is. We have to look at the substance of what the President has.


BROWN: And we know that since then, ex-President Trump has said he had those classified folders and so forth as keepsakes, but it appears you've changed your tune, saying now the discovery of Biden's classified information would put him in potential violation of laws protecting National Security, so help us better understand this.

TURNER: Yes, well, you know, if you play just snippets, Pamela, you certainly aren't going to get the context of any of our conversations. And obviously, the conversation was related to President Trump, unlike Vice President Biden claimed that the documents that he had had already been declassified, and so what I was pointing to which was the important issue that you asked me in the beginning is that the Archivist and the FBI didn't ask anybody in National Security or Intelligence as to what the risk of the documents had been surrendered, as I just said on this interview, or even the documents that might likely be at the Trump residence.


TURNER: Now, I've got to tell you, Pamela, I've been very concerned about the inconsistencies that you're hearing from commentators on, well, Biden didn't, you know, he -- this was inadvertent, he didn't mean to six years ago walk out of the Vice President's office with these classified documents.

The concern that we all have is the abuse of power that was done by the Biden administration where they raided his home. Now, you know, they didn't just take classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, you know, here are the pages of the filing of the Biden administration. They even walked out with his -- with Trump's passport.

Now, you could be an intern at the FBI and, you know, Trump's passport is not classified document. The concern here is, is what is acceptable from our government? Is it acceptable that they raid a former President's home, the political rival for President Biden, and actually his announced candidate, and he is likely the announced candidate, if we allow what we find acceptable from our government to change based on -- wait, wait, Pamela, this is important.

BROWN: Okay, hold on, but I will let you finish this, but I think you're missing a critical information.

TURNER: If we allow -- if we find acceptable -- thanks, but pardon -- if we allow what we find acceptable from the government to change based upon whether or not we like the target of the government, or when that we believe either religiously or politically with that person, we're walking away from the foundational principles of our Constitution.

BROWN: Right.

TURNER: President Trump's house should not have been raided. That's the huge difference between here and President Biden's situation. They're allowing him to do it himself, even with some unclassified people who don't even have classified, you know, ratings to be able to look at these documents. This inequality, this hypocritical aspect, especially from President Biden, having condemned Trump and then having done the same thing is important.

BROWN: Right, and he did. I mean, he did condemn it and we have scrutinized that on this show that he said it was really irresponsible what Trump did, and now there have been approximately 20 classified documents found that various properties, and certainly he has been under scrutiny.

But you know, you're being intellectually honest with yourself, the key difference here that Trump and his team defied a subpoena. They said they had turned over everything, and yet evidence developed through the course of the investigation that classified documents were being moved, which started this obstruction of justice investigation. So, that is a key difference here of why the FBI searched that residence.

TURNER: Pamela, it wasn't obstruction of justice investigation. No.

BROWN: Absolutely, that was part of it. Absolutely, it was.

TURNER: There were many steps, my point -- my point had been and remains, the Attorney General had several steps he could go through before he is playing around in Melania's closet in Mar-a-Lago's --

BROWN: But it went on for months and months and months and months. I mean, there was tremendous difference.

TURNER: And they believed, and the Trump team tells you, and I don't know if it's true, but the Trump team tells you that there were ongoing negotiations concerning those documents. And the thing is, is that to go to the level of raiding the former President's home, a political rival of President Biden, that is such a high level of scrutiny.

And as you know, they can't claim that it was because the National Security was at risk, because they didn't even ask anybody who is in National Security.

BROWN: Would you have that same reaction if the same circumstances applied to Biden? You would say the exact same thing? Oh, they shouldn't have it.

TURNER: I would have the same reaction. Let's say -- I actually said this on Jake Tapper's show.

BROWN: Okay, we've got to go. I am getting yelled in my ear.

TURNER: I said, Jake, if somebody came on and said it's now time to raid their home, yes, this is hypocritical on the Biden administration.

BROWN: Okay. Thank you so much, Congressman Mike Turner for that spirited discussion. This is why I like having you on.

TURNER: Thank you, Pamela.