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House Committee To Hold Hearings On Hunter Biden Laptop. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired February 07, 2023 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): We're not for Elon Musk being transparent and disclosing the Twitter files. The thing that's troubling to me is the fact that according to the emails and even Zuckerberg implied this at Facebook. The FBI was meeting regularly with the social media platforms, telling them, be careful, this might be disinformation. This might be Russian disinformation, even suggesting that they ban people from their platforms.
Credible outlets like the New York Post, the fourth biggest newspaper in America. This is troubling. The government has no role in censoring speech. And also with the documents, we wouldn't know that the president mishandled classified documents. We're not for a leak. So, this administration is not being transparent with America.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was reporting from CBS News. But on that, you are saying that they colluded? You've implied the FBI - that the FBI and Twitter colluded to suppress that information. That story about Hunter Biden's laptop. But CNN has reported on this. There's no evidence that there was any kind of direct - directive coming from the FBI to Twitter on that. So, do you have any definitive proof, anything that we are going to see about that.
COMER: I would invite CNN to watch our committee hearing Wednesday and see if you can pick up any new information.
COLLINS: We will be watching, but we've spoken to former Twitter executives, senior staff who has said there's no evidence of that. Did Elon Musk suggest anything that you should ask these former employees? Did he share anything with you that he has not shared publicly?
COMER: Elon Musk is very concerned about the government's role in Big Tech and the government's role in censoring speech. Is it the FBI's role to have an agency of 50 people that does nothing, but polices social media? Is it the FBI's role to use our tax dollars to pay Twitter and Facebook and Google and the other platforms for their time, so that they can meet every day to--
COLLINS: The questions on disinformation, especially after what happened in the 2016 campaign. You can say those are legitimate. Right?
COMER: There are always questions about disinformation. We have questions about disinformation, we're concerned about some of the things that Dr. Fauci said that we believe may have ended up in time being labeled as disinformation. So, who makes the decision as to who determines what's disinformation and what's not?
One thing that you may think is disinformation, I may believe is fact. Who's going to decide, you are - that what we want to know from the Twitter executives is, walk us through the policy? What was your policy to determine? What is disinformation? And who you seeking advice from? Who in the government was advising you? And what were they saying, just kind of walk us through that. We want to get a picture of exactly what the process was in censoring people.
COLLINS: I understand you've a lot of questions about that. On Hunter Biden's team and the investigation that you're doing there, his lawyers are asking state and federal prosecutors to basically pursue criminal investigations into people who disseminated his information. They say, he's a private citizen, this information they believe was illegally passed around. Have you spoken to his legal team yet?
COMER: I have not. But let's just think about that. They spent two years denying that that laptop was his. Then they said, well, the laptop have been altered. Now they're threatening to sue everyone, because the contents of the laptop have become public. So, it's been quite a transformation watching Hunter Biden's legal team--
COLLINS: Have you send subpoenas to banks for his financial information?
COMER: We are in the process of trying to obtain the financial information--
COLLINS: Does that involve subpoenas?
COMER: It will if we don't get the bank records from Treasury. We shouldn't have to subpoena the banks for this information, this information prior to Joe Biden becoming president was readily available to the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. He is blocking me from getting information that every one of my predecessors, Republican and Democrat had access to, under President Trump, Obama and George W. Bush.
COLLINS: Well, there are questions about Trump's financial information. I mean, he refused to release his tax - his own tax information--
COMER: But district bank violations. We're talking about bank violations. I'm not--
COMER: I'm requesting what are called suspicious activity reports, which were created to help members of Congress be able to track suspicious foreign transaction. So, these were put into place so that we could communicate better with banks and law enforcement to determine things like terrorist activity. COLLINS: And I understand and you've said that you may have subpoenas to get those. One last question before you go. You have asked for visitor names from the Secret Service when it comes to classified documents and the concerns about who may have been around the ones that President Biden took with him when he left office. Have you also asked the Secret Service for those names from Mar-a-Lago given for President Trump also took classified donors?
COMER: There's an investigation of that. There's a special counsel looking into everything at Mar-a-Lago.
COLLINS: There's a special counsel looking into Biden as well.
COMER: We're going to ask for those. Well, we're going to ask for those for Pence. We're going to treat Pence exactly the same way that we're treating Joe Biden, With Trump, it's a whole different deal. There's a formal special prosecutor. Trump has been investigated for six years. He's still being investigated. My investigation is on Biden.
COLLINS: There is a former special counsel for - there's a special counsel for Biden as well. So, why does it make a difference (inaudible)?
COMER: Well, it's partly for not having as much confidence in this special counsel appointed by Merrick Garland on Joe Biden--
COLLINS: But he appointed the Special counsel into Trump as well.
COMER: I'm against both special counsels. I said when they appointed the special counsel for Trump, we don't need a special counsel. You cannot name one time in our history where special counsel has been effective. These special counsels never materialize. They take forever. They operate behind closed doors, there's no transparency. I believe that our oversight committee or congressional investigative committees can do much better work in a transparent setting, and do it quicker than the special counsels.
COLLINS: OK. So, you say you will ask for the usernames for Biden and for Pence, but not for former President Trump.
COMER: Well, they're already looking into that. There's already - you have an aggressive special counsel looking into everything with Trump related to his mishandling of classified documents. So, that box is already checked.
COLLINS: Same to Biden as well though, that's the--
COMER: Well, we don't know, we don't know exactly what else is going on with Biden, our investigation with Biden is over influence peddling. There is a concern among a lot of Republicans that some of these classified documents may have been part of the business model with the president's brother and the president's son in some of their shady business dealings. COLLINS: Right.
COMER: That's why we're concerned about Biden.
COLLINS: There is no evidence of that so far, I understand you have questions about it--
COMER: No, we have evidence that they've influenced peddle, that they've always used the Biden--
COLLINS: But not in relation to the classified documents--
COMER: We don't have any evidence of the classified documents, but we're investigating that.
COLLINS: OK. Congressman Comer. We're out of time, unfortunately. We have a lot more questions for you. I know you have a bunch of hearings this week. Thank you for taking time to join us.
COMER: Thank you for having me.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Alright. Thank you. That's going to be. That's the time that we're in, where facts are sort of flexible.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: That's why we got Kaitlan Collins on the Hill, fact-checking in real-time. It was a great interview.
LEMON: Citing incredible sources, like citing the New York Post as a credible source and saying that facts are - it's just, I can't believe that we're here.
BALDWIN: Kaitlan, that was a great interview. Alright, moving on.
LEMON: Anyway, well, now moving on, because that's - listen, that's a big issue when it comes to the America. Hold on please with the music. That's a big issue when it comes to the American people, the American people are going to have to suffer through all of this stuff, from election deniers to people who don't believe in facts. We don't have a shared reality. And now it's taking center stage too people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, an election denier, a conspiracy theorist, a QAnon sort of influencer or supporter presiding over the House of Representatives. It's a sad day for America when that happens and it's a sad time for us when we have to deal with that.
BALDWIN: And I also think, and that was the point I was trying to make is why it is critically important to constantly and in real-time fact check.
BALDWIN: Right. And say, but the - for example, Merrick Garland appointed the special counsel, as Kaitlan said for both Trump and Biden, and are you going to treat these things the same--
LEMON: The same as it going back to special counsel. I'm not sure if it's the same kind of you and I were talking about it for Bill Clinton (inaudible) to Ken Starr, was that effective and what it's not, what's not, but I think there should be equal treatment by all if you're going to appoint a special counsel for the former president, then you should appoint one for the current president and possibly for the current - the vice president and what have you. So, there we go. We'll be right back.
LEMON: So, a live look now at Austin, Texas. That's the starting point of The Last of Us, HBO's current smash hit that chronicles a global zombie apocalypse fueled by fungus. And it is a lot of us wondering could it happen in real life? Could it? Our Chief Medical Correspondent is Dr. Sanjay Gupta to help us out. Good morning. So, it's fungus, this kind of fungus is actually a threat?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, I've got to say that I watched part of this show now as homework for this assignment. And it's a really interesting show, I have to say. What the show is about is a fungus actually inducing this mind-altering behavior in humans. That's not a real threat. But where they got the idea was the idea of this fungus known as Ophiocordyceps actually inducing sort of a change in ants. And I don't know how well you can see this, but this is an ant that basically was infected, it is dying, goes - climbs up a tree, climbs up a plant just basically locks in there. And you can see at the top of the screen there, in the middle of the screen, this fungus is actually growing out of its head now.
And the reason it's doing that is it's basically stripped the ant of all of its nutrients, the fungus has been a total parasite, and now it's creating the spore, it's going to spread it seeds and infect other ants, it is wild. This is really wild. Ophiocordyceps again, is the name of that fungus. Now that, thankfully, is not something that happens in humans. But that is where the show creators got the idea for this television series, watching what it does to ants.
Generally speaking, there are different types of relationships between pathogens and humans, these symbiotic relationships, and we can sort of break them down. But mutualism is one of them. That's where both species may benefit think things like coral and algae, for example, commensalism, which is where one benefits and the other has no impact. That's like a bird building a nest in a tree. But what you just saw was parasitism for one pathogen, basically just uses the other organism for its own benefit. In this case, the fungus using the ant to spread itself even further into the forest. It's wild. And that's what they're trying to build on for the show.
BALDWIN: I have to tell you, when they told us about this segment, I was like, no way, Sanjay going to do that. Until I realized it's a real thing. It's a real thing. And now we actually kind of understand it. Thanks to your brain. Sanjay, thank you. Go ahead.
GUPTA: You got it. Thank you. BALDWIN: OK.
GUPTA: No, I had the same thought initially when I heard about this segment, but then I started to dig into it.
GUPTA: And it's pretty fascinating to think how these pathogens can potentially change behavior. Again, it doesn't happen in humans, not certainly like that, but it is wild to sort of dig into.
BALDWIN: They can't control our brains.
LEMON: He's a brain surgeon.
BALDWIN: God, he is a brain surgeon. Thank you.
LEMON: You can catch the show on HBO and HBO Max. LeBron James looking to break the NBA all-time scoring record.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has been stressful at all? The chase?
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BALDWIN: Well, it happened at night. We'll take you live to Los Angeles ahead.
LEMON: It could.
LEMON: Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican congresswoman from Georgia reelected in November, she has pushed baseless QAnon lies and conspiracies that include saying that Democrats and celebrities are part of a Satan worshipping pedophile ring. She has since tried to walk back her involvement in QAnon. She also questioned the events of 9/11, something she's also tried to walk back.
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REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): The so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon. It's odd there's never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon. There is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now. Kennedy getting killed in the plane crash. That's another one of those Clinton murders, right.
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LEMON: So, she has pushed conspiracy that mass shootings were staged and false flag events, including calling a Parkland survivor, a paid actor. She's engaged in antisemitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric over the years. She has compared Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden. She has apologized after comparing mask rules and Congress to the Holocaust before she entered Congress. Greene also liked social media comments calling for the executions of Democratic politicians, including Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Her list also included FBI agents. She once posted a picture of herself holding a gun alongside pictures of three members of the so- called Squad with the caption that she was going on of offense against these socialists.
In 2019 and 2020, she encouraged protesters to flood the Capitol and endorse political violence, claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. And in the past two months, she has downplayed the insurrection against a symbol of American democracy, her very own workplace.
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GREENE: And I've got to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, it would have been armed. See, that's whole joke, isn't it?
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LEMON: She says that she would have won the insurrection on January 6th with arms, the same insurrection she blamed on ANTIFA, and yesterday in the same capital that was attacked on that same House floor that was breached by many now convicted criminals, Marjorie Taylor Greene, sat in for the House Speaker and presided over the House gavel in hand, the same House, she says that she could have seized during an insurrection. A sad day for America.
Here to discuss Adam Kinzinger, Alyssa Farah Griffin and Mondaire Jones. Good morning to both of you. Having just heard that, where's the lie?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes. You don't know where to start with that. Marjorie Taylor Greene has just uniquely kind of decided to take on every conspiracy theory imaginable. It would be funny if it wasn't so scary, like sometimes you look at the things that she says and you're like, this is just so out there. This is a woman who doesn't believe basic facts about her history, now in the Speaker's chair.
LEMON: As I was watching that very good interview by Kaitlan Collins with Comer. And I had to come out and say something because he is citing sources as credible that are not credible. He is talking about facts or something that's kind of flexible. And maybe you believe one thing and even though the facts are facts, and this is where we are right now, are you at - I wonder if you're happy to be out of it.
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm really happy to be out of there. Look, it's sad to me. I mean, I know Mr. Comer. He's a good guy. I was kind of surprised by this turn, he's taken as the Chair of the House Oversight Committee. Look, Hunter Biden's laptop that - maybe the FBI has an interest in that. His laptop was stolen from him and exposed to people, right? He's not in government. Yet this is the Republicans number one thing this year.
So, look, my political analyst hat looks and says James Comer, this, Marjorie Taylor Greene is very influential than the person in the party. If I take that off and just speak as Adam Kinzinger. She's - what she says is what a lunatic says, it's finding every conspiracy, and taking the trust of the American people, you represent 700,000 people, but you also have a voice in front of hundreds of millions, and you're telling them complete and utter lies for one reason. So, you can be promoted in this low paying job that you have in comparison to other things.
BALDWIN: Mondaire, what about the line that has already been sadly crossed when it goes from just fringe conspiracy theories, when QAnon was not widely espoused by some in power in government, to actually being repeated by people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, I mean, you have years ago, what happened in DC and the pizza shop and pizza gate? And then you have what we're just reporting on today, which is these neo- Nazis planning this attack on Baltimore, it's not all the same, but lies lead to actual violence and can lead to death.
MONDAIRE JONES (D) FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSMEN: Absolutely. I mean, these comments are not just made, and then nothing happens in response to them, that we saw an attack or an attempted attack on the city of Baltimore. Well, it turns out a few years ago, Donald Trump himself in attacking Elijah Cummings, who at the time was a Chair of the Oversight Committee--
BALDWIN: And the city itself--
JONES: The city itself. A majority black city as disgusting and rat infested in a place - and rodent infested in a place where no one would want to live. Well, fast forward a few years, you've got a neo- Nazi and his ally, I guess, attempting to disrupt life in the city of Baltimore. And I think for one reason only.
KINZINGER: Can I make a quick point.
KINZINGER: So, everybody, every day when you wake up, you have a battle in your heart between like, I'll call it good and evil, like light and darkness, right, you're always kind of have to fight that. It is really easy to let the dark parts of your heart overtake your thinking. So, you don't have to think too hard to do that. It just like all your fear can manifest into how you act. When somebody in power and leadership stands in front of you and speaks out the dark parts of your heart, it gives you permission to let that overtake you. And that's why a leader's job is to not do that. A leader's job is to avoid the temptation to speak the darkest parts of heart.
BALDWIN: Can I ask you; you said I think Don you said are you happy to be out of there. You said you're so happy. But that just recognizing what that moment is because you fought so hard against that while you were there and realizing I think you couldn't change it enough. [07:55:00]
KINZINGER: Yes. I mean look it's to an extent I'm sad that I don't have the ability to fight there. I'm personally glad to be out. It was 12 years. But yes, I mean you have to look at it and say it from my party. I don't think it's going to take just one person coming along and saying the right things, I think it's going to - this thing has to burn its way through the party, there has to be a moment where people like the sudden work anymore.
LEMON: Listen, there's a similarity between us in that, because when I was on the night show, every day was a fight about you're wrong, this is - whatever. And so, this is a move here to because I thought it would be - there's a different conversation you can have. But it's very easy. As you said, this fight in your heart to be lulled into the idea, that and to normalize what Comer said, to what Marjorie Taylor Greene said, and that people actually believe it.
The American people are going to have to deal with this for at least the next four years, about what's real and what's not. And--
BALDWIN: Yes, you were in the White House.
LEMON: And you said don't be lulled into this sort of false narrative that Trump has been that he's different because he's been investigated. You said that that's BS.
GRIFFIN: Well, and we were talking backstage, of how many Republicans and former government officials we know who we - we're honest, decent people, and now we see them doing things that are so performative, and they know better, and Comer, I would put into that to that box because he said, Donald Trump has been investigated for five years. Well, two years ago, he helped incite an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. So, I mean, the offenses to investigate Donald Trump for seem to continue every day, the idea that there's some sort of like date of expiration on it is absurd. And I really liked the point that Adam made because this is a crucial moment for our country. At what point are people going to put doing what's right for this country ahead of their own political ambition or their own future ambitions.
It feels like so many of these people, whether it's a Marjorie Taylor Greene or Warren Buber (ph), they're like running for their cable news gig not to actually serve the people of their districts or the people of the country. It's terrible, and it's going to - we're going to look back and be like, what are we doing?
LEMON: So, then what do people do? Do they step away like you? Do they step away like you? Do they find a different route to tell the story, to tell the truth.
GRIFFIN: I mean, the beginning, honestly, is having conversations with people you disagree with, like Mondaire and I were on different sides of the aisle. But let's talk about what a Democrat and Republican could potentially marginally agree on.
JONES: I think it's also incumbent upon the media to make sure that it is educating the public about facts, which should not be in dispute. And unfortunately, because of changes in the media environment, you've got too many networks in this country, focused on pushing the same lies that you see from even James Comer, to say nothing of Donald Trump and other people who are like--
KINZINGER: Can I say, you know, the Bible says, you can't point out a speck in somebody's eye, when you have a plank in your own. There is real benefit, whoever you are, to recognize your own issues as well. Right? So, let's say this this Chinese balloon, every Republican are saying in essence, Biden needs impeached over this which is insane. Well, that's also looking at the Democrats back when Soleimani was killed, their knee-jerk reaction was to say we shouldn't have killed Soleimani, we're going to start World War III in the Middle East.
Well, recognize that. I'm not saying that as - just as an attack, but like recognize. Look, our side has had some inconsistencies. But right now, I've got to tell you, the Republicans own this inconsistency, saying, I mean, standing in front and literally saying lies and conspiracies not as opinions but as facts. It's very destroyed.
LEMON: The struggle is for giving it a platform.
LEMON: I mean, but the people need to know. So, what do you do?
KINZINGER: That's right.
LEMON: That's a struggle in my heart every morning, I kid you not. I swear. What do I give platform to? What do you give voice to and what do you do in that position?
BALDWIN: We are grateful you're here.
LEMON: Well, it's not about me, but I think everybody here is facing--
BALDWIN: Well, you said coming off the night and doing the mornings and people need to hear that voice. So, thank you all. Thank you very much.
LEMON: Thank you.
JONES: Yes, you bet.
LEMON: We've got to go. We've got to get to the top of the hour. Thank you. Appreciate. Good to see all of you. We'll be right back.