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CNN This Morning
Biden Aides Find Second Batch of Classified Documents; GOP's Rep. George Santos (R-NY) Won't Resign Over Lies to Voters as Calls Grow; FAA Says, Corrupt File Led to Stoppage That Delayed 10,000-Plus Flights. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired January 12, 2023 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: There're still questions around it and obviously they're very different.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: But they're shaking their heads, like, oh my gosh, this an unforced error, right?
COLLINS: Yes, it's a headache for them.
LEMON: Yes. So, good morning, everyone. We're glad you could join us.
There are new questions this morning over President Biden's handling of classified documents where a second batch of materials were found.
COLLINS: Also freshman Republican Congressman George Santos is defiant in the face of mounting calls for him to step down. What lawmakers in his own party are saying.
LEMON: And major disruption, how a corrupt file led to a system failure at the FAA grounding flights nationwide.
COLLINS: But we're going start with the growing fallout that is facing the White House this morning after now a second batch of classified documents have been discovered in a separate location that is linked to President Biden dating back to his time as vice president. This, of course, is after that initial discovery of classified materials in his former office at a Washington think tank.
Republicans, of course, are using this. They have a new majority on Capitol Hill. Now, they are calling for a special counsel to oversee this matter similar to the one that is doing that for former President Donald Trump and the documents he took from office. There are a lot of questions so far, though not a ton of answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So, I'm just going to leave it there. I want to be prudent here.
This is under review by the Department of Justice. I'm not going to go beyond what the president shared yesterday. I'm not going to go beyond what my colleagues at the White House Counsel shared with all of you as well.
REPORTER: And the president was saying he was surprised to learn about these documents. Is he saying that he did not bring those documents to that office?
JEAN-PIERRE: I'm just not going beyond what the president said.
REPORTER: Do we know who did bring those documents to the office?
JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not going to go beyond what the president said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: M.J. Lee is live at the White House for CNN This Morning. M.J., the White House seems to be saying we're going to tell you more at the right time but it's not really clear when that time is going to be, when they will fill in the gaps here of those questions, like what Cecilia was just asking there.
M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kaitlan, there is so much that the White House is not saying right now, and you saw right there yesterday at the White House press briefing, the press secretary dodging question after question and really just declining to share anything new. And the White House so far has not commented at all on the second batch of documents that you mentioned. So, the list of questions of unanswered questions is really growing, including why the White House didn't disclose to the public the discovery of the first classified batch documents going back to November.
We know that aides around the president have been scouring different locations to see if anything had been overlooked. We don't know the details of who put the classified documents in that private office in the first place. And then the second batch of documents, of course, just the details of where were they found, who put them there. We just don't know the answers to all of these questions.
And I think one of the biggest questions going forward is will there be additional batches of documents that are eventually found and that we learn about and, of course, as you said, the politics of this is really huge, Republicans are already promising that they are going to add this to the growing list of issues that they are prepared to investigate.
COLLINS: Yes. And they're not really commenting on the second batch. I mean, they did comment on the first one, though, and they said where they confirmed where they were found, that it was a small number. There are still questions about this.
The other thing I think is what Republicans are saying, is that there should be a special counsel here. Is that something that the White House is anticipating will happen?
LEE: I think they are just waiting to see exactly how Republicans respond, because, obviously, this has been an ongoing issue. I think we are going to see in the next couple of days whether the White House sort has a theory of the case for exactly how to handle this. I think what is going to be clearly not helpful is if there is sort of a drip, drip of more information coming out.
And all of this is coming as the president is waiting to make an official announcement on a second term. The politics, again, the optics of this is huge. It is going to be politically complicated as he considers a second term and all signs are is that he is preparing to launch a second term, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Yes. And it's fair to ask questions about this while still drawing a distinction between what is happening with the former president and how different that is. M.J. Lee, thank you so much. We'll see what they say today.
LEMON: All right. Let's talk about George Santos. He's the newly sworn-in Republican freshman from New York. You've heard about him, right? He admitted to telling lies about his life and resume during his campaign. Well, he's refusing to step down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Will you resign?
REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I will not.
REPORTER: New York Republicans are calling you a disgrace. You will not resign?
REPORTER: Why won't you --
SANTOS: I'm just trying to get to the elevator. Excuse us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Just some of his lies right behind me on the board right there. Santos lied about where he worked, where he went to school, his faith, his family's connection to the Holocaust and even how his mother died.
And check out this resume. It was obtained by The New York Times.
Those jobs at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup never happened, that's according to the companies. It didn't happen. And he didn't even earn degrees from Baruch College and NYU.
Now, many of the calls to resign are coming from inside his own party. The calls are coming from inside House from Long Island to D.C.
JOSEPH G. CAIRO, CHAIRMAN, NASSAUR COUNTY REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE: George Santos' campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies, fabrication. He's disgraced the House of Representatives and we do not consider him one of our Congress people. Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I am calling for his immediate resignation.
REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): I wanted today make it very clear that that is not our brand, that's not what we stand for. And the fact ha that he claimed that he was Jewish, that he had family who escaped the Holocaust, that's just not something that I can tolerate.
REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): If you want to talk about election fraud, then we can look no further than New York's third congressional district right now. And if we're going to hold the left to the standard, then we ought to hold ourselves, the right, Republicans, we ought to hold ourselves to the same standard.
STATE ASSEMBLYMAN ED RA (R-NY): I would hope that George Santos starts to realize that it's just not possible for him to be (INAUDIBLE) representation, a representative of his district with this hanging over his head and without the trust of the constituents and without the trust of his colleagues in Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Three other first-term Republican congressmen also joined in the push to oust Santos. They say that he cannot be effective, that what he's done is dishonorable and unworthy of the office and that he must resign.
But the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, says, not so fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I try to stick by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve. If there is a concern, he has to go through the ethics, we'll let it move through that so he would continue to serve.
In America today, you're innocent until proven guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, Santos faces a number of complaints, including with the Federal Election Commission and House Ethics Committee filed by fellow New York Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman. They're going to join us later this hour to unveil a new bill that could make it harder for another Santos to slip through the cracks. Kaitlan?
COLLINS: Yes. We'll see if that passes.
This morning, authorities in California also including more than 100 National Guard members, as they are searching for five-year-old Kyle Doan. He was clinging to his mother before he was swept away, as those floodwaters overwhelmed their SUV on the way to school. His mother is speaking out and it's heart-wrenching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSY DOAN, MOTHER OF MISSING FIVE-YEAR-OLD: I want to switch places with Kyle. I don't want to be here. I want Kyle to be here. I wish Kyle was the one that was rescued.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Camila Bernal is live for CNN This Morning in California. We're also hearing from Kyle's father also. I know the family is obviously struggling with this as they are having these search efforts underway. What are you hearing?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kaitlan. The father telling me that he's in shock, that this is so difficult to process, but that they will search until they find Kyle. That search is incredibly difficult because they're looking in this creek. You can see and you can hear that the water is still flowing very rapidly, just a few feet up the creek is that car. You can't see it because it's just so dark. Despite all of these conditions, the family is saying they are not giving up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN DOAN, KYLE'S FATHER: I just want him back.
BERNAL (voice over): When the water rose, five-year-old Kyle Doan sounded calm. His father now recounting the boy's last words to his mother.
B. DOAN: He was telling her, mommy, don't panic, it's okay. Everything will be okay.
BERNAL: But the father says the water ripped Kyle away from his mother's arms on Monday morning.
B. DOAN: As she was getting him out and trying to hold him, the current was there, it took him.
BERNAL: Her screams heard by nearby residents who did everything they could to help.
B. DOAN: They were able to get a rope to her and get her over to the side but they couldn't get to my son. The husband that was there saw him, he was floating back. His head was above water, he was looking out. And that was the last time they saw him.
BERNAL: Now, shock, denial and heartbreak.
B. DOAN: My wife really -- it's hard because she survived the event and he's not here. And she feels really guilty that she wasn't the one to go down, not him. She did not want to eat. She refused. She said, if my son is out there, I don't want to eat either.
BERNAL: A grainy home video from a Christmas past now a treasured memory.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Big one.
B. DOAN: He was a good kid. He had lots of friends. He liked to help the teacher. He was a kindergartener. He was doing new experiences. And he's probably like a lot of kids. You know him in your neighborhood.
BERNAL: But the family is determined to find Kyle. His older brother, Tyler, searching with the help of friends, and for the first time, Wednesday, seeing his mother's car.
TYLER DOAN, KYLE'S BROTHER: I'm just speechless from seeing that kind of just a rush of emotions, just a lot going on right now.
BERNAL: As he looks for his little brother, he's reminded of the joy he brought to the family.
T. DOAN: He wakes up the whole family every single morning. Most of us like to sleep in, try to at least. And he's the one that gets us out of bed every single day.
BERNAL: And an entire community searching, hoping, praying.
TARYN BOWER, FAMILY FRIEND: You want him found but you don't want to be the one to find him. And -- yes. You just -- it's scary. It's scary. But we just want him found.
BERNAL: It's that help and support that the Doan family says is giving them strength.
B. DOAN: It's been tough. Given very good -- a lot of giving, a lot of support, a lot of friends.
BERNAL: Trying to balance hope of Kyle's smiling face against the grim reality.
B. DOAN: It's going to be hard. At some point, it's going to be really hard.
BERNAL (on camera): And the father telling me that he understands this may be a recovery operation. Nonetheless, that search, Kaitlan, resumes when the sun comes up.
COLLINS: Yes. We're keeping them in mind. Camila Bernal, thank you.
LEMON: And now to the war in Ukraine. A military reshuffle once again in Russia. President Vladimir Putin has replaced his military commander in Ukraine for the fourth time in less than a year. His chief of staff, General Valery Gerasimov, who is now head of the invasion, he replaces Sergey Surovikin, who has been in charge since October.
So, let's go to CNN's Ben Wedeman live for us in Ukraine this morning. Ben, good morning to you. Thank you so much. What does this tell us about the progression of this war, Russia's war on Ukraine?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it tells us, Don, that there may be an attempt to reshuffle the decks on the Titanic of the Russian military. General Gerasimov was actually in charge of the military operation in Ukraine at the beginning of the war, and that was plagued by all sorts of problems of supplies, logistics, ammunition, everything.
And so it's somewhat puzzling that he would be brought back to that position of responsibility at a time when the Ukrainians over the last few months have made dramatic gains. Of course, there's this battle ongoing in Soledar. But even if the Russians are victorious there, it's a modest victory in the grand scheme of things. That's a very small town.
But, clearly, they are desperate, the Russian leadership, to find somebody who can put the war back on course because, at the moment, it's well off it. Don?
LEMON: All right. Ben Wedeman, thank you very much.
COLLINS: One single corrupt file. That is the FAA's system failure that led to a ground stop into a remarkable one at U.S. airports yesterday. It was traced to a corrupt file. The FAA says the disruption resulted from a reboot of a pilot safety alert program. It took longer than expected, led to more than 10,000 delays and 1,300 cancelations.
CNN's Aviation Correspondent Pete Muntean is live at Reagan National Airport, where he was yesterday. Pete, it's kind of remarkable that they were essentially trying to reboot a system and it took longer than they thought and that's what happened to the pure chaos that we saw yesterday morning?
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: So true, Kaitlan. We're getting a much clearer picture now into exactly what went wrong behind the scenes. The FAA now says it was a damaged database file that led to the meltdown of its notices to air mission systems, its NOTAMS system, which gives critical safety alerts to pilots. They must read them before they take off. That damaged file not only caused the main system to meltdown but also the backup system to meltdown, according to sources.
Now, multiple government sources tell us that this was initially a problem known to the FAA on Tuesday afternoon, but the FAA tried to reset that system on Wednesday morning when it thought it would have the least impact on air travel.
That ultimately failed causing that nationwide ground stop.
Now, more on this file, multiple sources tell us that that file was not put in by any one particular person, at least they don't know that just yet. They also don't know if it was any one particular action that caused that file to be corrupted. There are some big questions here for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the FAA falls under his portfolio at the Department of Transportation. He's been critical of airlines when they have had their own meltdowns.
And I want you to listen to him now. He says the FAA and Department of Transportation really owns this problem and is investigating what exactly started all of this to fail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: These kinds of disruptions should not happen and my primary interest now that we've gotten through the immediate disruptions of the morning is understanding exactly how this was possible and exactly what steps are needed to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MUNTEAN: The very good news here, Kaitlan, is we are over the hump of yesterday, the numbers today pale in comparison. 540 delays so far, compare that to the 10,000 we saw yesterday. Only 66 flights have been canceled in the U.S., according to FlightAware.
COLLINS: Yes. Some grateful flyers today, big questions for the FAA, though. Pete Muntean, thanks so much for that update.
LEMON: A glitch.
COLLINS: I think if your flight got canceled, you're like, really?
LEMON: I would be so mad. And I know people are ticked. But a glitch --
COLLINS: I know. But those programs are so important, as we were talking -- we heard from all those people talking about how that is critical to --
LEMON: It is. But they need to update the systems.
All right, also today, House Democrats have moved to introduce a George Santos bill, not the one that he wants named after him, it would make candidates lying on their resume, make it a crime. Two New York lawmakers who are behind this are going to join us, next.
LEMON: Plus, disturbing new details about the husband of a missing woman in Massachusetts, why Brian Walshe was described as a sociopath in a 2019 family legal dispute.
LEMON: So, the calls are mounting for the embattled New York congressman, George Santos, to resign after he admitted to lying on his resume and about key elements of his personal life. Two New York Democratic congressmen are proposing a new bill which would be named the SANTOS or Stop Another Non-Truthful Officer Act. This bill would require any candidate for Congress to file information about their educational background, their military service and their employment history. And a candidate who knowingly and willingly provides false information would be punished with a $100,000 fine, one year in prison, perhaps both.
So, joining us now are two sponsors of the bill, and that is -- they are Democrats from New York, Congressman Daniel Goldman and Congressman Ritchie Torres. Congressmen, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining us. I'm going to start with you, Mr. Goldman. Explain the SANTOS Act and why you think it is needed.
REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): Well, on Tuesday, Congressman Torres and I filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee for violations of the Ethics in Government Act, but that only is limited to financial disclosures and campaign finances and lies and omissions on those documents and representations.
But there is nothing in election law that prohibits anyone from lying across the board like George Santos did about his education, his employment history, some matters that are really critical to what voters care about when they vote. And so this act we are introducing to make lies about those essential biographical facts crimes under election law.
LEMON: So, the question is, though, to what end, Representative Torres, because in a Republican majority House, what are the odds that this bill will actually pass? It's believed that it's dead on arrival.
REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): Well, I'm cautiously optimistic that it could actually secure bipartisan support. Because what is the possible argument against requiring candidates to tell the truth to voters. When CNN confronted Kevin McCarthy, he said that the voters chose George Santos. But left unmentioned is the fact that George Santos defrauded the voters. He won his election under fundamentally fraudulent pretenses. And I find it scandalous that a candidate could flagrantly lie to the voters with impunity.
And so that's why we're introducing the SANTOS Act, which would require candidates to disclose in writing, under oath, under the penalty of perjury, their employment, educational and military history, so that candidates who do lie to voters can finally be held accountable. Voters should have the ability to compare what a candidate has said under oath versus what a candidate claims on the campaign trail.
LEMON: Do you think you have enough Republicans that will sign on to help this pass?
TORRES: I'm cautiously optimistic and notice Republicans, particularly in Long Island, are coming out in opposition to George Santos. Now, I will admit Republican leadership here in the House has been conspicuously silent about the fraudulence of George Santos. I find it notable that Elise Stefanik, who is the chair of the GOP conference, not only enthusiastically endorsed but fundraised for George Santos in the tune $100,000. But ever since the scandal broke out, she's been nowhere to be found with respect to George Santos.
LEMON: Representative Goldman, I have to ask you about these documents that had been found, because you were so outspoken about the documents with Donald Trump. You tweeted, you said, Donald Trump treats laws as if they are suggestions, not requirements, DOJ officials must enforce our laws without fear or favor, as they took an oath to do.
Our democratic foundation depends on it. I think that tweet was in reference to the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.
And now that there are documents found classified with the former president in an office and others that have been found recently, the cases are believed to be very different, but what is your response to that?
GOLDMAN: I think the American people are smart enough to understand the critical differences here. You have, in one situation, President Biden's lawyers who found classified information as they were cleaning out his office and they immediately self-reported and notified the Department of Justice, turned over the documents to make sure that they were returned and secured and any damage control was done.
On the other hand, you have a former president who intentionally, knowingly tried to conceal and withhold turning over classified information, so much so that he defied a subpoena for those documents, which required the Department of Justice to execute a search warrant.
These things are not like each other. And the American people are smart enough to understand that when someone finds something and immediately turns it over and when someone, regardless of the circumstances of how these documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago, certainly came to understand that he was in possession of them and did everything that he could to prevent the Department of Justice from receiving those documents.
This is quite simple and it's a blatant false equivalency that the Republican Party is trying to put over on the American people.
LEMON: But, Congressman, you're not concerned that there were classified documents that the current president had in his possession or at least at his office?
GOLDMAN: Of course, I'm concerned. I think the president is concerned. That is obviously unintentional and outside of the requirements of our intelligence laws, classified information must remain in secured compartments and this was not. And I'm sure that the Department of Justice, working in cooperation with the president's lawyers, are trying to figure out how that happened and whether any sources and methods have been compromised in any way, as you would do in a situation like this.
But cooperation is coming from the Biden administration and the president's lawyers and there was zero cooperation from Donald Trump, who tried to do everything possible not to cooperate.
LEMON: Okay. Just one quick question before I let you go. So, then would you be okay with a special counsel being assigned to the Biden documents?
GOLDMAN: I defer to Attorney General Garland. I don't know the facts here. A special counsel would only be warranted if there were actually a criminal investigation as opposed to a counterintelligence investigation to determine exactly what happened and what consequences there are to national security of this country.
If that morphs into a criminal investigation related to the president -- and, by the way, it's unclear and unlikely that President Biden even had any idea about this since, as I'm sure he didn't pack his own boxes, but if the attorney general believes that that's warranted, then, yes, a special counsel should be appointed.
LEMON: Yes, we don't know about that. But it is interesting why attorneys would be finding these documents, why are attorneys packing and unpacking boxes for the president or the former vice president? Thank you, Congressman, we appreciate both of you joining us this morning.
GOLDMAN: Thank you.
TORRES: Of course.
COLLINS: For more on this, let's bring in CNN's Political Analyst and Senior Political Correspondent for The New York Times Maggie Haberman and CNN Political Commentator Ana Navarro. Thank you both for being here.
I want to talk about that document that stuff because that's really interesting. But on George Santos, Ritchie Torres was saying there maybe they could get Republican support here but the GOP leadership who says they don't believe Santos needs to resign, there's no way they're going to pass this, right, or support this?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Whatever happy pill Ritchie Torres is taking, I'd like some too. Because, I mean, his cautious optimism, I think, is unwarranted. As we know, there are now members of the rules committee who are never going to go along with this and rules committee touches every piece of legislation with Kevin McCarthy not backing this, it's not going to happen.
But I would say to Republicans, and not just the Republicans in the House, I would say to Republicans, every Republican out there, Republican leadership, like the Republican Jewish Congress, this guy lied about his Jewish heritage or lack thereof. These people, like we saw yesterday, the Nassau County Republican Party, they're the ones that need to speak up. The Republican Party of New York State, they need to speak up. Republican organizations, they need to speak up. Because only if there's Republican support around the country and from donors and from voters and organization will it be a difference? And it's an embarrassment. It's an embarrassment to Republicans, it's an embarrassment to the institution of Congress, it's an embarrassment to America.
It's an embarrassment to Brazil too.
LEMON: They are starting to speak up. Kaitlan interviewed someone from the New York State Republican Party, a state senator who is speaking up this morning.