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WH: 5 More Classified Pages Found At Biden's Delaware Home; Dems Vent Frustrations About WH Handling Of Biden Docs Story; Ex- Deputy AG: Key Legal Question Is Did Biden Know About Classified Docs; Oversight Chair: "Biggest Concern" Is How differently Trump, Biden Treated; President Biden Speaks At Martin Luther King Jr. Day Event; President Biden Delivers Address On Martin Luther King Jr day. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired January 16, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to a special edition of Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your holiday with us. Democrats go public with complaints about the White House and what one calls an embarrassing transparency stumble. This as we learn more about the classified documents discovered in President Biden's Delaware home.
Plus, he's a bad guy. Republicans more and more call out George Santos for his lies, but many stop short of saying he should absolutely be booted from the Congress. And mangled lives, frenzied first responders pulling people out of the wreckage in Dnipro, after Russian says the Ukrainian sky on fire. It's latest missile barrage killing at least 40.
In just moments, the president United States marks this important holiday with a speech reflecting on the work and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. We will bring you those remarks live when they happen. This event comes as the president confronts a crisis of his own making. The weekend brought another revelation about classified documents uncovered in Joe Biden's Delaware home.
The disclosure adds yet another instance of government secrets found where they should not have been. A special counsel is now investigating whether the laws were broken here. And that's a new source of anxiety inside the West Wing, that we are constantly learning more details is the source of frustration among the president's fellow Democrats.
More and more of them, now say the special counsel review is necessary. And more and more of them say Mr. Biden was sloppy at a minimum here. And the result is a gift to Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW, (D) MICHIGAN: Well, it's certainly embarrassing, right? I mean, it's embarrassing that you would find a small number of documents, certainly not on purpose, what I'm most concerned about, and this is the kind of thing that the Republicans love.
We just heard it from my colleague, Senator Johnson, let's talk about investigations. Let's create chaos. That's not talked about the fact that we have a manufacturing Renaissance going on in this country, more jobs created, lower unemployment rate, higher wages, and what they're proposing to do that would interfere with that would really put us on the edge economically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Again, we expect to hear from the president any moment, we'll take you there live when it happens. In the meantime, let's continue this conversation. With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Francesca Chambers of USA Today, CNN's Evan Perez and our CNN legal and national security analyst, Carrie Cordero.
Evan, where are we in terms, let's just start, the new special counsel just named. Where are we? And is there any sense of how long this will take? Will it be a narrower? How do these documents get there? How are they recovered? Who knew where they were? What's the chain of custody? Or will it expand?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think the Justice Department believed initially that this would be a narrow investigation by Rob Hur. And whoever he brings in, we know he's trying to bring in at least a couple of people. There are people from the national security division of the Justice Department who are going to help do this investigation.
But John, what you're asking is, what else is there, right? What might happen here? And certainly, I think the shifting stories that we've heard from the White House, the explanations that they've given a raise a lot more questions.
And one of the first things that Rob Hur is going to have to confront is, you know, how do we make sure that they're not additional documents? There are other homes and offices that the president used when he was a former vice president, that will likely have to be searched. Who does those searches? Is it the president's legal team?
Over the weekend, we heard a statement that that really raised additional questions, because you had Dick Sauber, the special counsel inside the White House counsel's office, who is a government employee, describes that, you know, he went to the president's personal home, to try to hand over documents, because he had a security clearance. That seemed to add a new set of questions, because now he's a witness who will have to talk to the special counsel.
KING: And so, I want to get back to the substance of the investigation, because that's the most important thing. Exactly how did this happen? What's the chain of custody the documents, who might have had access to the documents? Those are the things the investigates.
But you hear Democrats who initially said this is Joe Biden, not nefarious. Some said classified documents have to be careful here, but Democrats increasingly because of what Evan says the drip today, a drip the next day. This is Adam Schiff saying, let's be careful, but yes, yes, this needs to be scrubbed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Is it possible that national security was jeopardized here as many including, you raise that possibility with the Mar-a-Lago documents?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: I don't think we can exclude the possibility without no knowing more of the facts. We have asked for an assessment in the intelligence community of the Mar-a-Lago documents. I think we ought to get that same assessment of the documents found in the think tank as well as the home of President Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Does the Biden White House see this as more political peril too, not just the legal investigative questions, but the politics?
FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Well, I think you can see that in the fact that they are no longer they say, going to be taking questions on this. Rather, we can ask, but they may not answer them. They're going to be deferring to the special counsel. And they may have to take questions from Congress on it.
And you heard Schiff go on to say that he thinks that they should cooperate with those investigations. And President Biden last week said that he hopes to speak on this more God willing soon. It wasn't clear what he meant by that if he plans to speak out about this. But certainly, reporters continue to have questions about some of the things you were asking as well.
KING: So, let's walk through some of the timeline because it's important. It was on November 2. This is before last year's election. A Biden attorneys discover some docs at a think tank office. He was affiliated with a university and had a private office there during the Trump presidency.
On November 4, two days later, the national archives notifies the Department of Justice. On November 9, the Department Justice launches an investigation. On December 20, December 20, more than a month later, Biden attorney searches Wilmington home find additional documents than the initial findings submitted.
A U.S. attorney looked at this and submitted findings to the attorney general. Biden attorneys on January 11, searches Delaware home, find and more documents there. And on January 12, a special counsel named not on their carry. We were talking about this before the program. On November 18, the attorney general announced the special counsel to look into Donald Trump, who was then a declared candidate for president. So, the Justice Department said, you know what, we just to be safe here. We're going to hand this over to a special counsel November 18. The national archives notified the Department of Justice about the Biden issue on November 4. The Department of Justice launched its investigation, handing it over to the Chicago U.S. attorney on November 9. So, nine days after that the attorney general announced a special counsel for Donald Trump and said nothing about this. Is Merrick Garland have questions to answer to?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I do think it's an interesting question as to the fact that he made that announcement of the special counsel in the former President Trump's case. The catalyst for that he said at the time was because President Trump had announced that he was going to be running for president. At the same time, President Biden is the presumptive nominee.
So, I think there is an argument that the attorney general when he was making this significant announcement about a special counsel for the former president. I think there's an argument in retrospect that perhaps he should have acknowledged that this other issue was going on with respect to the current president too.
It's debatable. I mean, the timeline was moving. He was referring it for investigation, but the fact that he knew about it and did not communicate that in any way, or there was no coordinated messaging between the Justice Department and the White House, I think is notable.
KING: So, now you have the president, the current president and his predecessor, the former president, both having these special counsel investigations. And this is Rod Rosenstein, we all remember him. He was the deputy attorney general in the Trump administration. Trump was not a fan, because he was the point man in the Mueller investigation. Rod Rosenstein here posing a question to Joe Biden, which essentially is the same question for Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD ROSENSTEIN, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The key fact with regard to the Biden documents, of course, is what did the president know about those documents? Was he aware that they'd been moved? That he, in any case, in past five years, has he handled those documents? Was he aware of them? We just don't know that yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The president, the public comments he has made since he didn't know they were there. But where are they in the process of, you know, obviously, the special counsel comes first and to Francesca's point, they say there be limited in what they can say to the media until then, where are they? And actually, making sure, OK, we're done. Now we know the actual facts as opposed to what we found documents. We searched again, we find more. We searched again, we found more.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's an open question. I mean, every time we think that, you know, they found all the documents. A couple days later, we learned something more. We learned something more on Saturday again. So, I'm not sure anyone can say with any degree of confidence that they have found all of them.
The president we are told is furious about this. He's furious at how some of his advisers have handled this. We don't know. Going back to those final days of his vice presidency was very chaotic. He was traveling a lot. He went to Ukraine. He went to Davos, his aides were trying to pack things up, you know, but the here and now of how his team has handled this.
He's been around a small set of advisors were random at the time of his vice presidency, and now and how they have handled this has sort of wreaked of arrogance in some respect, saying that, you know, they were trying to downplay this a week ago, now they're not because they're simply not sure what else is out there, but he is not happy about this.
But interestingly, he goes to his Wilmington home virtually every weekend. if not three weekends out of a month. We have no idea if we looked at these documents probably not, but there's so many questions about this, just simply because how they handle this at the DOJ (crosstalk)
KING: And House Republicans now say they want visitor logs if the Wilmington home and the White House is there or not? When the president is out of office, he didn't have such a thing. But what you hear Rod Rosenstein saying, is that the only legal question, is just about Biden, are there other legal questions for others who may have facilitated in the movement in the way?
CORDERO: Yes. So, a quick counterpoint to the Rod Rosenstein's comments, because in this investigation, as well as the one involving former President Trump, these investigations are not just about Biden and Trump. They are also from the Justice Department perspective, from the investigative perspective about all the other people, potential staff members, current or former, who handled those documents?
Who moved those documents, who physically was responsible for moving them and who had access to them, once they were in the secure unsecured locations is an important part of the investigation. It's not just about the current president and the former president.
KING: So, you mean people who should have been smart enough to raise their hands, and say, this is not my lane. I'm not qualified or are we sure? Do we have clearance to do this people out there?
CORDERO: The people who were responsible for actually moving the documents, I mean there were individuals, whether they were staff members, in either case, who were responsible for physically moving, I don't believe that the former president or the current president, were the people who were actually physically moving boxes and making decisions, maybe they were, and maybe that is where the investigation will go. But this is also about staff people. And there was a much wider range of individuals who have potential criminal exposure in either matter, that is not just about those principles.
PEREZ: Right, which is where, you know, some big questions that are going to confront the new special counsel. You know, do you send the NDF, the FBI to do a search of the sitting president's homes and different places, right. Do you do that? And you know, what that's going to look like. And also, you know, for the president, I think, you know, he's kind of built this image and even right after Trump was the search of Mar-a-Lago.
The president went out there and said, publicly, that he had this very detailed procedure of handling documents. He said, you know, documents were handed to me, I read them, I handed them back to the aide and they locked him away.
None of that appears to be true. It appears that he was just a mess, you know, in handling these documents, maybe not nearly as bad as Trump. I don't know, we don't know. But I mean, that's part of the issue here is that, you know, the things that they've said about how this was done, appears to not really be the way they describe it.
CHAMBERS: And to the broader point and this was something that Mike (Inaudible) touched on yesterday. What is the process moving forward? This has now happened to two past presidents. What are they going to do to make sure that other presidents maybe don't have to classify documents? And to make sure that these aren't leaving the White House in the future? What does that process look like? And is there a role for Congress in that also?
KING: Well, you say role for Congress? I mean, so it's an interesting question now, in the sense that, you know, the Republicans did not control the house when we learned this about Donald Trump, but they said little or nothing or just tried to turn away like most things about Trump just walk away and try to dodge the questions. Now, this is the chairman of the New House oversight and accountability. He says, Joe Biden, lots of questions we want to ask.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Do you only care about classified documents being mishandled when Democrats do the mishandling?
REP. JAMES COMER, (R) OVERSIGHT CHAIR: Absolutely not. My biggest concern is it classified documents, to be honest with you. My concern is how there's such a discrepancy and how former President Trump was treated by rating Mar-a-Lago, by getting the security cameras, by taking pictures of documents on the floor. By going through Melania as closet versus Joe Biden are like, OK, you your personal lawyers, you don't have security clearance. Yes, they can go through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The last part, there is a legitimate concern about the president's personal lawyers go back. You mentioned that, did the Biden people have a secure process of going through the search. But the first part of it, it just distorts the facts in the sense that there were months and months and months where the Justice Department asking for the documents back. They wanted to clear.
But it just it gives you a window into the Republican, they just want to make this about what they view as weaponization of the government against them, and favorable treatment for Biden. They just want to make this all about the politics because they don't want to have hearings. Why not? How about a bipartisan committee that looks at the Trump issue, the Biden issue, and the bigger issue may be of why are we not doing a better job security classified document for sure.
ZELENY: And at the end of the day, the House Republican majority may end up being the White House's front here, if they overreach on this. I mean, they are very different in terms of the obstruction. We don't believe that there isn't any obstruction in the Biden case here. But it simply is has taken away the moral high ground of this presidency and the White House that they would have claimed that they had in this case. So, that's why it is messy for that.
PEREZ: And one reason why we have those pictures that he's referring to, why we know so much about the Trump search is because Trump went to court and found a judge to try this slowed down the investigation and made this a litigation issue that then the Justice Department was forced to publish and to say, here's the search warrant, here's what it looked like. He started saying things about the FBI being thugs and so on. So, all of those things is why the Justice Department was forced to show his hand when it normally doesn't.
KING: Right, that you're bringing facts and context into the political conversations necessary. I don't say it as a joke, if this is where we're going. This is where it's going. And so, here we are. Here we are on January 9, actually, I'm told I need to end the conversation. This is the president United States speaking. The National Action Network meeting here in Washington, D.C. You see in there with the Reverend Al Sharpton, this of course, the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. Let's listen to the president.
JOE BIDEN, 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I think this is on. Design, hello, hello, hello. Hello, no, whoa. OK. Rev thank you very much. That introduction. And, quite frankly, thank you for your partnership. You've been a good friend for a long time.
It's an honor to spend King holiday with the National Action Network. And with the King family, Martin and family. And understand, you know, Martin III we celebrate a legacy of your beloved father and mother. They work for the beloved community but congratulations a day the honorees including your wife, who I understand the birthday today.
Well look, my wife has a rule in her family. When somebody's birthday, sing happy birthday. You're ready. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Reverend. Happy birthday to you. Well, it's hell turner 30, but you got to put up with it.
And Nancy Pelosi, who I think is literally not figuratively the greatest leader, House speaker in American history. Mignon more a mover and a shaker in politics and bray curry, a true champion for the dignity of workers. And everyone here from the civil rights community and Congress, it's wonderful to be with you on this special day.
Yesterday morning, what would have been Dr. King's 94th birthday. I attended the Sunday services at Eben-Ezer and I was deeply meaningful and moving for me. It was because we face another inflection point in our nation's history.
One that's going to determine what this country looks like, several decades from now, you know, this is a time for choosing. When we choose democracy over autocracy or community over chaos, love or hate. These are the questions of our time that I ran for president tried to help answer that Dr. King's life and legacy in my view, show us the way forward. We just have to look back, we got to be prepared.
With all of you here, together we made some important progress. Two years ago, our economy was on his back, flattened his back, people were hurting particularly minority communities. Black Americans and other people of color were disproportionately hit.
And Kamala and I and our administration acted decisively, with the help of people in this room, to not only rescue the economy from pandemic downturn, but to lay the foundation for a stronger and more resilient and more equitable economy for decades to come.
Hold this just a second. One of the things that I wanted to is a slight digression. But one of the big issues was with the pandemic. I wanted to make sure that we spent the time, effort and had the mechanism to make sure that minority communities were not left behind. That we're not left in the lurch.
And the highest percentage of workers, minority communities were treated as I mean, it was the single effort we had. And I'm very proud of the folks who ran that show that we got it done. We got it done. You know, I'm have a view and have been my whole career, which is only a couple years. I know, I know. I don't look. But I'm tired of trickledown economics.
You and I have never liked it, have we? And I think the economy, the way it should grow in America is from the bottom up in the middle out. That way, poor folks have a shot. Middle class people do well, and the wealthy still do very well. They still do very well. But they start to pay their fair share.
Two years in it's clearer than ever that I think our economic plan is working. We've created nearly 11 million jobs, the strongest job growth on record for any president at this point in history. The unemployment rate is the lowest has been in 50 years, and black unemployment is near record lows, wages for black workers are up, two strongest years ever for small business creation, including black small businesses.
Across the board, American families have a bit more breathing room, more black Americans having health insurance than ever in American history. And as of this first of January, our legislation is kicking in from last year, insulin now is capped at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare. Instead of paying - instead of paying up to hundreds of dollars a month.
And big pharma, big pharma, under the law, we finally got past with not much help from the other team, big pharma in a situation where if they rise - if they raise the drug price beyond the rate of inflation, they're going to pay stiff penalties for doing so. That's a fact.
And so, we're trying to bring things under control. We're seeing the same progress on energy, on energy costs. Folks can get tax credits when they install energy efficient appliances in a home like new energy efficient dishwasher, or heat pumps or electric vehicles, if you're able to buy one of those.
We're investing in those fenceline communities that have suffered the most consequences and been smothered by pollution, like cancer Alley and Louisiana or my home State Route 9 at Delaware, where all mills are, where oil refineries are. And we're making sure that these communities benefit from the biggest investment ever, ever, ever, with cleaner and safer environment.
And the jobs that are going to go to clean up the environment are going to go to the folks in that community good paying jobs. They're the ones who are going to get the jobs. And so, folks these are all pieces of a big new law that we passed, now they're kicking in. America is going to start to feel the benefits of these laws in their everyday lives. But that's not all.
We're implementing a once in a generation infrastructure law. With equity at its center, I mean it sincerely with equity at its center. My justice 40 initiative means 40 percent of all the benefits in this infrastructure law, which is over $2 billion over the next 10 years. Those benefits of certain federal investments flowed directly to disadvantaged and underserved communities.
For example, 70 percent of the new infrastructure investments for shifting to electric school buses, for example, so far have gone to disadvantaged communities where kids aren't breathing that polluted air from diesel buses. 70 percent so far has gone to minority communities, and a lot more is coming.
We're modernizing Americans roads, bridges, ports, airports across the country. And we're beginning to replace every poisonous lead pipe in America, every single one. We've already started. So, every child in America, so every American can turn on a faucet at home or at school and drink clean water.
A significant number of minority communities can access affordable high-speed internet, as you all know, and you've told me for years. Well, we're going to make sure that every community has access to affordable high-speed internet. So, no parent has to drive to McDonald's parking lot to have their kid sign up for connection to be able to do their homework.
By the way, it's going to create millions of jobs in the meantime. Folks look, speaking of education, instead of photo ops, and I know I spent a lot of time some - here from Delaware, I know, I'm a big Delaware state guy. I went to University of Delaware, but my political foundation was Delaware state college, HBCU.
I said I was going to help HBCUs that have been getting the help they need. You know, the folks at HBCUs are as competent as anybody else. But guess what, they don't have the laboratories. They don't have the funding because they don't have the endowments to build the laboratories for these good new paying jobs.
And so, I've already - we've delivered nearly 6 billion in funding to HBCUs to invest in next generation of black leaders. That's a record and that's a fact and it's not going to stop. To help look, to help close the wealth gap, the racial wealth gap, undersecretary fudge, she is leading the effort. We're expanding efforts to build black generational wealth, like every other person has built their wealth.
How they build homes, invest in the equity and their homes. That's how it got built. You know, if you build in the last 25 years, you build a housing development on one side of an interstate highway and you built the same one on the opposite side.
And one is predominantly black and the other is predominantly white. Guess what, the value of the exact same home built by the exact same builder is more valuable on the white side of that highway than on the black side. That's a fact.
So, we're going to aggressively, aggressively combat racial discrimination housing including working to restore the rule that says, if a community gets a federal housing aid, it's not enough just to say it won't discriminate. It has to be meaningful affirmative steps to overcome patterns of segregation and give everybody a fair shot that lives there, the same thing.
By the way, if you live in one of those neighborhoods, and you have the same exact car, I haven't the other neighborhood, you pay more for your insurance in that side, no basis for it, none at all other than your black and I'm white. We're also working with leaders to strengthen programs to redress the negative impacts of redlining.
One of the things as I was a young county councilman, that's what almost lost me election but I'm very proud of it, trying to take care of redlining and get rid of discrimination. We're launching a $1 billion pilot project, funded by my bipartisan infrastructure law that Nancy made sure we got passed. Nancy, thank you.
Tell pre connect communities where highways have physically broken, broken them up and locked out predominantly black communities from opportunities, economic growth. In the city of Wilmington, Delaware, where I'm from. Well guess what? I-95 goes up through what used to be a predominantly black neighborhood. Well, now you got 7, 8, 9 lanes, common exits and on ramps and off ramps that divide the community as losses coherence.
Well, there's remediation money in the infrastructure bill, to be able to pave over that to have, so that's a tunnel instead of you put parkland in there, put recreation facilities in there, community centers in there. And finally, we're addressing the cruel fact that black families' homes often appraise I said as much lower value than the homes owned the same home owned by white families.
Black Small businesses are the engines and the economic glue of any community. I need not tell anybody in this room, restaurants, law firms, barbershops, beauty shops. These are the folks that hold the community together, the other one is sponsor the little league, or the one that sponsor the church event. So, they want to sponsor, the local Volunteer Fire Company. They're the ones that sponsor everything.
They keep the community going. Well, the whole that community together, we need to encourage more of that. So, I'm proud I signed a law that permanently authorizes the minority small business development agency for the first time in our history. And it gives expanded authority to help even more black owned businesses grow.
My administration also oversees hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, from everything from refurbishing deck of an aircraft carrier to installing rails and handrails in the federal building. Well, I determined a long time ago, when I first got in that, you know, there's a law that was passed in the late 30s, 1930s. That says that if you in fact are going to spend taxpayers' dollars and the president has to authorize where that spent, it should be spent by American on American made products by American businesses.
Well, guess what, we're doing it and an awful lot of people are going to work, an awful lot of people are going to work. And folks in that, in that when I assigned those when we awarded those contracts, I made a commitment, increasing from what is now roughly 10 percent of those contracts going to minority businesses to 15 percent, to 15 percent by 2025.
And the share of those dollars are going to go to small businesses, disadvantaged businesses, including black and brown owned businesses, that's going to mean an additional $100 billion going into creation in the small business, $100 billion. And we're doing all this while being fiscally responsible. We're making sure the wealthiest and biggest corporations finally start paying their fair share.
Far from it so far, you know, if you hold a second, we're here - we're talking about, you've heard me saying I apologize for repeating. There are 55 companies in the Fortune 500 companies that made $40 billion in 2022 or 2021. You know how much they paid in taxes. Zero, not one single penny.
But if you're a local cop, you're a local firefighter, you're a local nurse, you're going to pay 24 percent to 26 percent and they're paying zero. Well, we increased the corporate minimum tax, I want to go back at it increase the minimum track to 15 percent.
Now that's not a whole lot for Melanie's major corporations, but no one - and by the way, no one earning less than $400,000 a year pays a single penny more in taxes.