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President Biden Welcomes Japan's Prime Minister At White House; Special Counsel To Investigate Biden's Handling Of Classified Documents; Rep. Santos Defiant Amid Growing Calls For Him To Resign. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired January 13, 2023 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening right now, President Biden is hosting the Japanese prime minister at the White House. The two leaders are meeting right now in the Oval Office. MJ Lee is live at the White House for us. MJ, what are you hearing about this meeting and this whole visit with the prime minister?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, we just saw the prime minister's motorcade roll onto the South Lawn. And you saw there, the president greeting his counterpart pretty warmly, putting his hand on the shoulder. And it's important to note that this is not the first time that the two leaders have met over the last year, of course, when the president traveled to Tokyo, they had a bilat there and in Cambodia on the sidelines of a summit there as well.

And this meeting comes at a really important and pivotal moment for Japan as far as its security posture goes. Last month, the country made the announcement that it was going to significantly boost its defense spending and its military as well. And, of course, the U.S. and Japan recently announced too that it was going to boost its joint military cooperation.

And, of course, the important backdrop here is China -- and trying to contain China's own military buildup and its security posture. This is an area where the two countries really believe that there's ample room for cooperation, containing China economically, as well as going to be a big issue that the two leaders are expected to talk about. Obviously, the ongoing war in Ukraine and other broad economic issues. Those are going to be discussed as well. We do expect that the two leaders, we should be seeing them speak briefly at the Oval Office, and then they're going to be heading into working lunch as well later this afternoon, Kate.


BOLDUAN: All right, MJ, I'm just going to stick close to the camera. We're going to bring that to you when we hear from the president and the prime minister. I appreciate it, MJ In the meantime, the FAA now says a personnel failure is to blame for Wednesday's system outage, a failure that led to a nationwide ground stop of domestic air travel and also had massive ripple effects after the fact. The data file that caused a key flight database to collapse was damaged by personnel who failed to follow procedures. That is how the agency described it. CNN has also learned that the computer system that failed is running on 30-year-old software, and it is at least six years away still from a planned update. We'll see about that.

George Santos is facing growing calls from fellow Republicans to resign. He says he will not. But he's also still dodging questions about why he's so obviously lied to voters about who he is.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why did you lie to your voters about your qualifications, your past, or your Jewish?


BOLDUAN: That is next.



BOLDUAN: President Biden is now facing a crisis. A special counsel has just been appointed to investigate his handling of classified documents, which means he'll be at the center of a federal investigation. At the same time, he's expected to be launching a reelection bid. Setting up an unprecedented scenario really of a current and former president running against each other while both are under investigation.

Joining me right now for more on this is CNN senior political correspondent, anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY," Abby Phillip, and CNN legal and national security analyst, Carrie Cordero. It's great to see you, guys.

Abby, part of this issue is how the White House has handled it up to this point. What are you hearing about that?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I think that there's clearly a gap in the timeline here from the fact that they disclosed earlier this week that the documents in early November had been found, but they didn't talk about the documents that had been found in mid-December and also that there was an additional document that was later found on Wednesday and disclosed to DOJ on Thursday. The question about what they disclosed and when I think still just remains to be answered.

They claimed that this is because they want to be sensitive to the DOJ's investigation. That they don't want to talk about things that are a part of an ongoing probe. But at the same time, it -- the question I have as a -- as a journalist, and a lot of the reporters in the White House press briefing yesterday had the same question, if you could disclose the first batch of documents, why not the second, and was there an effort to try to keep this under wraps at a time -- a fairly sensitive time politically for this White House? I think those remained to be answered.

BOLDUAN: And, Carrie, how the White House has handled this with their public disclosures seems it might be quite different from how they handled it with the National Archives and the Department of Justice because when it comes to legal liability, is that what this -- was that what this comes down to?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, so from what we know so far from what they released, they promptly informed the archives when they discovered the different sets of documents.


CORDERO: And so, from a legal perspective, from the perspective of what kind of potential criminal exposure is there for the individuals who handled the documents, who removed them from their rightful place and ended up placing them in these other places where they should not have been because it wasn't proper storage for classified information? For -- on that end, it does seem like they cooperated with the National Archives, that they are cooperating fully with the Justice Department. And so, I think there is this natural tension, Kate, between the transparency that the White House has or has not provided or might want to provide versus the way that they need to be measured in their response and let the Justice Department process work itself out and let the special counsel process now work itself through.

BOLDUAN: And real quick, Carrie, this thing about -- the thing about special counsels is it -- we have -- we have seen in the past is it may start in one place and it can end up in a different place. I mean, how wide-ranging do you see this potentially getting? I mean, do you -- and do you think it will?

CORDERO: Well, the special counsel -- so Attorney General Garland had complete discretion whether or not to appoint a special counsel in this place. What he pointed to was the public interest, the extraordinary circumstances where you have a current president involved in this investigation in some way because of the locations of where the documents were found. The -- he is tasked by the attorney general to look at this particular matter now if more documents were discovered in different places if there always is the possibility that an investigation will uncover facts that will take investigators down a separate road. But so far, based on what we know, this seems to be a fairly limited scope of an investigation that is looking at the handling or potential mishandling of these particular documents.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And, Abby, while I have you, I did want to ask you about George Santos and the more and more we're hearing about it. I mean, we have more, more Republicans are asking for him to resign. He's made clear that he is not going to. He went on Steve Bannon's show yesterday to talk about it. Matt Gaetz of all people was actually the one there asking the questions. And he asked what is a key question among the lies that Santos has told which is about where his money has come from, where the -- money that he has donated to his campaign a large sum of money. Let me play this.



REP. MATT GAETZ, (R-FL): When you donated that money to your campaign, is there anything else you can say about the work you did that was the origin of those resources?

REP. GEORGE SANTOS, (R-NY): Look, I've worked my entire life. I've lived an honest life. I've never been accused shoot of anything bad doing. So, you know, it's my -- it's the equity of my hard-working self and I've invested inside of me.


BOLDUAN: When he was asked a fairly direct question and a very friendly setting and still did not answer it, this being the -- I think this -- the question of his finances --


BOLDUAN: This is the key question. How does this end?

PHILLIP: Yes. This is absolutely the most significant question. Because contrary to everything that he just said there in that clip, that is not true. He has lied about almost everything that he told the public about his life, including this idea that he's not been accused of any wrongdoing. He was charged in Brazil in a fraud case that the Brazilians are now reopening, so there's some very recent history of George Santos allegedly committing financial crimes elsewhere. And the reason that people are asking about this money is because in the not- so-distant past, he also, you know, filed disclosures that showed that he made very little money.


PHILLIP: So, it's not sufficient at all for him to say that he just worked really hard. But from the political perspective, it seems like GOP leadership are -- they're just content to let that play out in the courts if it plays out at all.

BOLDUAN: Yes, we'll see. It's good to see you, guys. Thank you, guys.

So, people around the world are reacting to the sad news. Lisa Marie Presley has died. The tributes to her and the message from her family. That's next.


BOLDUAN: President Biden meeting in the Oval Office with Japan's Prime Minister right now. The president -- they spoke just moments ago. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's been -- I don't think there's ever been a time that I've been closer to Japan. I want to stop so we can translate it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

BIDEN: Last year in Japan, you said to me. "We are two nations that share fundamental values. I couldn't agree even more. We are. The shared democratic values are the source of our strength, the source of our alliances, and the source of our being able to deliver for our people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

BIDEN: We're modernizing our military alliances, building on Japan's historic increase in defense spending and new national security strategy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

BIDEN: Let me be crystal clear. The United States is fully thoroughly completely committed to the alliance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

BIDEN: And more importantly, to Japan's defense -- the defense of Japan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

BIDEN: We're working closely on tech and economic issues including the Indo-Pacific economic framework when we're stepping up to hold Putin accountable for example, about the war in Ukraine. And I want to thank you. Thank you for your strong leadership on this from the very first -- the very first conversation we had on this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

BIDEN: Today I'm looking forward to how we can continue advancing our shared goals and values, including at the G7 summit in Japan and the APEC in San Francisco later this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

BIDEN: Rather than figuring out how we can work more closely together in a more difficult job and trying to figure out how and where we disagree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

BIDEN: You're a real leader and you're a real friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

FUMIO KISHIDA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Joe, thank you so much for those warm words of welcome.

KISHIDA: (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As we enter the new year of 2023, I am pleased to make my first visit to Washington, DC as the prime minister and to have this meeting with you, Joe, my dear friend.

KISHIDA: (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And last year, starting with your visit to Japan in May that we were able to accomplish so much of -- for peace and security in the region and prosperity in the region and the international community. It's through numerous meetings, our bilateral meetings, but also the QUAD meetings, the Japan, U.S., and ROK trilateral among others, and I'm sincerely grateful for your cooperation, Joe.

KISHIDA: (Speaking in a foreign language)


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Japan and the United States are currently facing the most challenging and complex security environment in recent history. And in order -- or to ensure our peace and prosperity in the region and to contribute to that and also safeguard the peace and security of Japan late last year, Japan formulated a new national security strategy.

KISHIDA: (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in so doing, Japan decided -- Japan re -- fundamentally reinforcing our defense capabilities, including in possessing counterstrike capabilities. And in order to ensure that, I increased our defense budget. And this new policy was set forth by Japan. And I believe that this will be beneficial for the deterrence capabilities and response capabilities of the Alliance as well.

KISHIDA: (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, Joe, as you rightly pointed out, I too feel that the role to be played by Japan and the United States which share -- which share the fundamental values such as democracy and the rule of law, the role that we are to play is becoming even greater.

KISHIDA: (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And today, I very much look forward to having a candid exchange of views with you, Joe, on the various important topics including a free and open Indo-Pacific at the G7, APEC, as well as climate change.

BIDEN: I like working with you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)




BOLDUAN: All right, very clearly, President Biden not taking -- not taking shouted questions that you were saying at the very end of this Oval Office meeting, with the president and the prime minister of Japan meeting there talking about -- very clearly talking about their friendship, talking about the topics they're going to be hitting on today. Technological issue -- their shared issues they're going to be working on today. Technological issues, economic issues, security issues, including military threats from China, including holding Putin accountable as President Biden -- as President Biden said.

Japan actually was the first Asian country to join the West in imposing sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. President Biden really summing it up there and saying you're a real leader and you are a real friend. So, those, they're now going to be moving into a working lunch and that will continue at the Oval Office.

And also, at the White House, you know, amongst those shouted questions were questions about the big news that the president -- in the crisis that the president is now facing, the investigation into his handling of classified documents. The special counsel being named. The president, you can be sure most shouted questions was asked about it, not taking questions so far. We'll see what happens in a White House briefing later today.

In the meantime, thank you so much for watching us AT THIS HOUR. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.