CNN "The Lead" - TRANSCRIPT White House: Biden Team "Did The Right Thing" When Documents Were Found; Special Counsel Appointed In Biden Documents Investigation; Growing Number Of Republicans Calls On Rep. Santos To Resign; Paul Ryan On Biden's, Trump's Document Investigations. Aired 4-5p ET


Date: Jan. 12, 2023


Joining us now, Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, the brand- new chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

Mr. Chairman, thanks so much for being here.

Do you think Attorney General Garland made the right decision of appointing the special counsel, not just a special counsel, but one who had previously been a U.S. attorney under Donald Trump?

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): We really have no choice because he had so un-evenly handled this. It really is outrageous when you look at what happened with, you know, former President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, thousands of emails, and classified documents on a server in their home, President Trump's house being raided, and then we now have President Biden when he was vice president apparently took classified documents are in his home that he has had for a period of almost six years, maybe longer, we don't know when they came into his possession, or when he took them home.

Having appointed a special prosecutor for the Trump issue, he had really no choice to do this. He already lost a tremendous amount of credibility as a result that it was such an over abuse of discretion in the manner which the Trump matter was handled. So we had to appoint a special prosecution.

TAPPER: There is a significant difference, of course, in the sense that, classified documents are classified documents, whoever has them they should be dealt with appropriately. But from what we can see, President Biden, his team telling the National Archives, telling the Justice Department about it. President Trump resisting any negotiations, and also in terms of quantity it is quite different.

TURNER: Well, first of all, we don't -- we don t know how many he started with. There is a number of questions that need to be answered here. But we actually, with former President Trump, you know, he says that he was cooperating, all the way to the extent where there was an inspection of where he was holding the documents and he agreed to put an initial lock on. There were ongoing negotiations, but he also said that this had been declassified. There really here isn't from the aspect of why does he have him --


TAPPER: He said they're declassified because he -- because a president can just think about them being classified and that makes them declassified? I mean that's --

TURNER: He did at that, as I said with you before. That's a fact- based issue. He's going to have to deal with --


TURNER: -- with whether or not those were actually declassified.

But the issue here is of -- especially in the like of the, in the light of just the irony of President Biden being so scathing that these documents were found at Mar-a-Lago and now he has them in his garage behind his Corvette next to the leaf blower.

I mean, when he says that he took -- takes classified documents very seriously, and when I hear that in my mind I am thinking, he is obviously pretty serious when he takes classified documents.


The question is, why did he even have them to begin with, why were they in his home?

TAPPER: So, you don't believe the White House said it was inadvertent, an accident, you don't believe that?

TURNER: Well, what's inadvertent, when he took them? When he put them in his home? Where were they before they -- what is the chain of custody? Where were they before they ended in the back of his Corvette?

TAPPER: What do you say to a critic who says that you sound much more animated about this than you do about the hundreds of boxes of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago? TURNER: Well, I was very animated then and I am animated now. But the

issue here is not just the classified documents themselves. The issue is also the abuse of discretion by the Department of Justice, which you and I talked about before a number of times, the concern of the raiding of Mar-a-Lago.

The second issue here is the irony of the indignation from the Biden administration. The fact that they are the ones who ordered the raid, his political rival, he ordered the raid on -- the attorney general ordered the raid on his home. This is how outrageous this is. Imagine if someone at this point said, whether they were classified documents found at Biden's home, let's go look in Jill's closet. As you, know they looked in Melania's closet.

The behavior of the Department of Justice and the FBI was so outrageous, which now, before we were declaring it outrageous, and abuse of discretion, now when you look at the comparison between the two it even sheds light on really how outrageous it was.

TAPPER: Again, I would say from what we know, and again this is about what politicians tell us, but from what we know, the Biden people told the National Archives, told the Justice Department, said we have these on gave them over. From what we know about the Trump case, the Justice Department was told about it and the Trump people resisted it and didn't turn over these documents to the point that the FBI felt that they had to go there and get the documents back. And the only reason we know about that is because Trump announced it.

TURNER: There are a couple things here that you are missing. One, there are number of documents our surrendered in those negotiations --

TAPPER: Not all of them, though, that is a point.

TURNER: Secondly, the documents that have not yet been surrendered, the Biden team, excuse, me the Trump team view, they were in ongoing negotiations where they even secured the facility further.

Now, on the Biden team, the only reason that you and I know about it, is because somebody leaked it. They didn't go and say, oh, this is inadvertent, we now discovered this. It was leaked and now they're telling us more, and there are additional ones.

And then just the callousness of this being in boxes in the back of the garage shows that the disparate treatment between the two, the irony between the Biden administration's treatment of Trump and the that this is now an issue for President Biden I think it's something that the people should take note of.

TAPPER: So, I do want to ask you, because you're a new chairman. We talked about this before, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner and Marco Rubio -- I am sure they disagree on a lot of things. But that committee, at least from where I sit, seems to operate in a functionally bipartisan way. They seem to cooperate a lot. They seem to try to work together a lot.

The House Intelligence Committee, and you are just the first chairman, so I am not holding responsible for this --

TURNER: I don't have the members yet.

TAPPER: Right. But you will be -- but the House Intelligence Committee has not operated like that since the days of Mike Rogers, a different Mike Rogers than the guy who got in a fight with Gaetz, Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan and Dutch Ruppersberger. Years, it's been years since the House Intelligence Committee operated in a bipartisan way.

Is it your goal to do or do you see the House Intelligence Committee at the same way that, I guess, Jim Jordan looks at the Judiciary Committee? It's an operation, it's a place for the party in charge to be in charge?

TURNER: Well, and I've told you before, and this is something I don't just think as a goal. I think we're going to achieve it, and that is the intelligence committee is going to be focusing back on issues of classified information and on national security.

Senator Warner and I have had a number of meetings, we're even going to go to the part of not just working on a bipartisan basis, but on bicameral. And I believe the members of the committee, both Republican and Democrat, are ready for this committee to regain its focus.

My hope, and in many of these things that are being discussed that have a number of overlapping to major restrictions, it is that some of these areas will not be areas where our committee is handling them. We're only going to be handling with respect to national security, with respect to classified information, and these other committees are going to be better suited.

First off, they're public. So when they have a hearing, everybody gets to see, and the other aspect is some of these overlapping areas of jurisdiction are two oversight of areas of the government that really are not in our committee's jurisdiction.

TAPPER: Yeah, you know who the top Democrat is going to be an intelligence?

TURNER: No. There's a couple of names out there and I'm certainly looking forward to work with my counterpart.

TAPPER: Okay. Mr. Chairman, Mike Turner, good to see you.

TURNER: Thank you.