ABC "This Week" - TRANSCRIPT 'This Week' Transcript 1-15-23: Rep. Adam Schiff, Sen. Raphael Warnock, and Rep. Don Bacon



House Republicans have already launched their own investigations into President Biden's handling of classified documents. We're joined now by GOP Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska.

Congressman Bacon, let me ask you just first up, what do -- do you agree with the appointment of the special counsel?

REP. DON BACON (R-NE): I do. I think the American people see how President Trump has been treated on one hand, and they want to see a sense of fairness. I -- granted the situations are different, but they're both about classified information being in areas that's illegal and the improper handling of highly classified information. So, I think it shows a sense of fairness to have a special counsel for both.

KARL: And you acknowledge these cases are different? I mean they do both involve handling of classified documents. But in President Trump's case, he essentially defied a subpoena. In this case, it appears at least that President Biden has, you know, voluntarily turned everything over.

BACON: Well, I agree that they are different. In one case you have long-term negotiations where President Trump was not handing over the information. And then you have, on the other hand, classified information that's been stored for six years, in one area where Chinese nationals have access, another where it's in a garage. Who knows who had access to that. And the third batch was in the president's home in Delaware.

I would just say they're both wrong. Granted they're different. What strikes me, though, is having President Biden be highly critical of President Trump, calling him irresponsible. And it just reminds me of that old adage, if you live in a glass house, do not throw stones. And I think the -- President Biden was caught throwing stones.

KARL: And we've seen some of the Republican reaction. Not from you, but let's take what Congressman Mike Turner, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. When the Mar-a-Lago documents were discovered, he said it all sounded like a bookkeeping issue. And now, he's demanding an immediate review and damage assessments in the case of the Biden documents.

Is there some hypocrisy going on here?

BACON: Well, I think you see hypocrisy on both sides of those who point fingers. And I just -- we just got to acknowledge, classified information and I dealt with them for 30 years. I'm a retired general. I worked in the intelligence career field. I flew reconnaissance aircraft.

It's not to be kept in vaults. We call them SCIFs. And having top secret special compartmented information in your garage or your resort or in an area where Chinese nationals have access, it's all wrong. And we shouldn't just be point fingers at the other side.

So, I think there's blame to go around to both sides of this, and I think if you're an honest statesman, you just can't point fingers to the other guy and deny that there was problems on our side as well.

KARL: Let's turn to the congressional agenda. We've heard from the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that the debt limit will be released -- reached on January 19th, just in a few days. And they're going to do extraordinary measures that will get them to June before a default.

How real is the risk of default here given some of the demands that are being made by the Republican leadership?

BACON: Well, I think it is a real threat that both sides have to take serious. You know, the Republicans were largely elected to get control of reckless spending. That's the mission that their voters have given them.

So, when President Biden says he's just going to refuse to negotiate with Republicans on any concessions, I don't think that's right either.

But on our side, we have to realize, we control the House with a four-seat majority, the Senate is run by the Democrats with a one-seat majority, and the president obviously from the Democrat Party. So, we can't get everything we want either. This is not a parliament system where the majority party and the parliament can sort of dictate those terms.

So, I want our side to negotiate with the Democrats in good faith. But President Biden has to also negotiate. He can't say he refuses to negotiate. That's a nonstarter as well.

Because the mission we've given is to control reckless spending, which has been not the only contributor but one of the main contributors to inflation.

I just read a stat yesterday -- 21 months in a row, American wages have fallen behind inflation. The standard of living for America has gotten worse over the last two years and part of it is reckless spending. And that's our mission.

So, I want us to meet that and have good faith negotiations. And to our voters, on the Republican side, they want to see some progress in getting control of spending.

KARL: Has the Biden administration reached out to you on the debt ceiling?

BACON: They have not.

KARL: Okay.

BACON: And I -- both sides are going to have to be willing to work together. We have large groups on both sides of the aisle that's my way or the highway. That does not work in our country.

And I encourage President Biden to reach out to the leadership on the Republican side. You know, in the last two years, he's invited the Republican leadership to the White House twice. That's not a very good record.

And we've got to do our part, too. You know, James Madison put together a Constitution that said factions have to work together to find areas of consensus. That's how he designed the system with a bicameral separation of power. And when parties say, my way or the highway, it just doesn't work.

So, we're going to have to work with Joe Biden and we're going to have to work together with the Senate to find a middle ground here.

KARL: We're almost out of time but I've got to ask you about George Santos. His lies are so numerous that they're easy to lose track of.

I want to tick through just a couple. He claimed that he was Jewish and a grandson of Holocaust survivors. He claimed to have attended Horace Mann Prep School in the Bronx, he did not.

He said he graduated in Baruch College as the top 1 percent of his class and he was the star volleyball player on the team, volleyball scholarship. He never even attended the school.

He claimed he worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, he didn't.

He said his company lost four employees at the Pulse nightclub shooting. He did not.

He claimed his mother's death was somehow tied to 9/11. This also appears to be false.

There are many more I could go forward. Should he be -- should he resign? I mean, should he be in Congress?

BACON: You know, if that was me, I would resign. I won't be able to face my voters after having gone through that.

But this is between him and his constituents largely. They've elected him in and he's -- they have to deal with him on that. I don't think his reelection chances would be that promising, depending on how he handles this.


KARL: But that maybe -- that maybe be the understatement of the day.

All right. Congressman Bacon, thank -- thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

BACON: Thank you.