Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
Classified Documents From Biden's Time As Vice President Discovered In Private Office; Tonight, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Facing First Major Test As Speaker; Prince Harry Drops Royal Bombshells In New Book; Damar Hamlin Out Of Cincinnati Hospital One Week After Collapse; Outrage After Six-Year-Old Allegedly Shoots Teacher In Class. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 09, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news we're following. Attorneys for President Biden find several classified documents from his time as vice president at one of his private offices, that according to a source familiar with the story. The documents were discovered last fall and turned over to the National Archives, which referred the matter to the U.S. Justice Department for further investigation.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And we begin our coverage tonight with the breaking news that we're following, classified government documents found inside one of President Biden's private offices, the records dating from Biden's time as vice president, during Obama administration.
CNN Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez, has been working the story for us. He's got the new information. Update our viewers on exactly what is going on.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a reporting from our colleague, Jamie Gangel, and our team. We're told that the president's legal team discovered the documents. They say it's fewer than a dozen documents, classified documents, that were discovered in an office that the president had when he was setting up an office with the University of Pennsylvania. The Penn Biden Center here in Washington, D.C. They were cleaning out this office, trying close it out and that's when they discovered these documents.
Again, according to the White House, there are fewer than a dozen documents. They've now turned those documents over to the National Archives, which has, in turn, asked the Justice Department to investigate it.
Now we're told that the U.S. attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, who is an appointee of former President Donald Trump, is now handling a review of these documents to determine what next to do. Of course, the FBI is also involved in reviewing this. And, Wolf, it's important for us to understand also that the -- according to the White House, they say that this was obviously something that they turned over to the National Archives.
I'll read you just a part of what they say. According to their statement, they say the White House is cooperating with the National Archives and the Justice Department regarding the discovery of what appear to be Obama-Biden administration records, including a small number of documents with classified markings. These are documents from the previous Obama-Biden administration that it appears then-Vice President Biden took with him when he was setting up this think tank with the University of Pennsylvania.
BLITZER: Well, do we know that Biden personally took these documents to that private office?
PEREZ: We do not know. We do not know who packed these documents up. You would have to assume that this is something that the Justice Department is going to be reviewing as part of this ongoing investigation right now that they're doing, because we don't know exactly how they got to this location.
Of course, one of the things they're going to be investigating, Wolf, is the circumstance in which these documents were being kept at the Penn Biden Center here in Washington.
BLITZER: Stand by, Evan. Jamie Gangel is here. Jamie, you've been doing a lot of reporting. You got the initial report for us here on CNN. Tell us some more.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think just to give some context, I mean, Evan has really laid out what happened. But my sources tell me that what they believe happened was that documents that people did not realize were there, but this will come out in the investigation, went to this office along with a lot of personal documents. And when the lawyers came to clean out the offices, these were supposedly being kept in a locked closet that they found a lot of personal documents there, a lot of other research documents and then they found a small number of documents that should have been turned over to the archives under the Presidential Records Act, but there was a subset and those were the classified documents. I'm told there were fewer than a dozen documents, but they were classified. They were of a certain level.
BLITZER: Were they top secret?
GANGEL: They were under category called SCI.
BLITZER: That's higher than top secret.
GANGEL: And but that we don't know the significance. We don't know the content. They don't know what they pertain to, but absolutely that --
BLITZER: SCI, sensitive compartment information, which is one of the highest classified levels of classification.
GANGEL: -- that Biden's lawyers, as soon as they saw the documents, they immediately called the National Archives and said we found these. We want to get them to you.
PEREZ: And part of the process here, Wolf, and Jamie knows this well from our coverage of the Trump Mar-a-Lago documents and that drama is a damage assessment that is done by the FBI to determine whether any sensitive information, any classified information, especially at the SCI level, any sources and methods, anything like that could have been damaged or exposed as a result of having these documents in a location that is from what we can tell, would not have been a place that you house classified documents.
And that's part of what has been the problem for former President Donald Trump, right? The idea that you have these documents, there are requirements of how you handle them, where you put them, in locked compartments, certainly to make sure that sources and methods are not exposed. That is what the U.S. attorney in Chicago is now doing a review of to make sure that there's no damage or what damage could have been done as a result.
GANGEL: There's no question that this is in a political context following the Trump documents. But I spoke to a source who is very familiar with the documents, what happened, this is not a partisan source. This is someone who is a professional. And what the person said to me is that there were two key differences in this case, one, cooperation. The Biden lawyers immediately, as soon as they found them, called them and turned them over.
And the other thing they pointed out was these were a relatively small number of documents in comparison to the hundreds of documents that were found at Mar-a-Lago. But out of an abundance of caution, because of the Trump documents, that the archives felt they had to refer this to the Justice Department.
BLITZER: And just to be precise, whoever brought those classified documents to this private Biden location committed potentially a crime.
GANGEL: So, one of the things that has happened -- this is not the first time something like this has happened. Evan knows about this. You go back to past presidents to past vice presidents, top officials, the packing is not always perfect. And I'm not saying there isn't some responsibility here or wrongdoing, but a source of mine who's very familiar with the National Archives told me that there are dozens of these incidents over the years. A by a widow is going through a closet and finds documents that shouldn't be there.
There is a difference in the National Archive's experience between someone making an honest mistake or bad packing and someone withholding on purpose, knowing what they're taking.
PEREZ: But that said, right, I mean, I think the context that I'm uncertain you're going to hear in the coming hours, certainly from former President Trump's team, is that you can see how he ended up where he ended up, right? That how can you prosecute, which is something obviously that is being considered by the Justice Department right now. There's actually a special counsel looking into whether to bring criminal charges in this case. How can you consider bringing charges against Donald Trump when something like this could have happened to Joe Biden?
I think we have sound of current President Biden addressing the handling of classified documents and the care in which he believes they should be handled and we should listen to that. I think we have this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: When you saw the photograph of the top secret documents laid out on the floor at Mar-a-Lago, what did you think to yourself looking at that image?
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: How that could possibly happen, how anyone could be that irresponsible. And I thought what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods. By that, I mean names of people that helped, et cetera. And it's just totally irresponsible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: Totally irresponsible.
BLITZER: I just want to be precise. That was released on CBS 60 Minutes on September 18th, 2022, about a month or so before -- maybe two months before they found similar documents at the Biden private office.
PEREZ: Right, exactly. The president obviously not -- was not -- according to the statement that we see from the White House, was not at that point aware of the discovery of these items, but what it will call into question is you know, just as the president made this mistake or someone made this mistake and transported these documents to the Penn Biden Center, just as easily someone could have done this in the case of former President Donald Trump.
And the question to the Justice Department is you know, are you treating them differently?
Obviously, the Trump investigation we know has taken a much different turn, right? You have months and months between where the Archives was asking for these documents to be returned. We know that the former president basically thought that these documents belonged to him. He considered them personal because --
BLITZER: And he said he could declassify just by thinking about it.
PEREZ: Right. We've heard of various explanations for why this entire process happened the way it did. So, we'll see whether the Justice Departments views this case to be something that requires further investigation, whether this will become a full criminal investigation, or whether they will resolve it the way they have, which is by having a review done by the Chicago U.S. attorney, John Lausch.
BLITZER: Evan and Jamie, I want both of you to stand by. I also want to bring in our political director, David Chalian, CNN Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt and our Senior Political Commentator Adam Kinzinger. Defense Attorney Shan Wu is joining us right now as well.
Shan, let me just quickly get your thoughts on the breaking news that we're following right now from a legal perspective.
SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. I think there are important differences here obviously in terms of the scale and the number of documents involved. And I think what you're seeing here, it sounds like it was a referral to DOJ and so Garland was moving promptly.
And I would guess that both the referral as well as the speed of Garland's actions reflects the concern over making sure that they appear even handed in the treatment here. And so there will be a full investigation to talk to who was handling it. The chain of custody is really important.
And also to both Jamie and Evan's point, if we're talking about a potential criminal charge, and, of course, the of course the intent is very important, I mean, there's certainly a difference between mistakes and intentional violation. So, all of that needs to be looked at, and I think that's would they're promptly doing right now.
BLITZER: Yes, they're certainly. Adam Kinzinger, you're now a CNN Contributor. Let's get your thoughts since you were obviously a key member of the January 6th select committee as well.
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, look, everything from the legal perspective that everybody said is correct, there's going to be nuances. I'll tell you, the U.S. attorney in Chicago is a very fair man, Mr. Lausch. And so I think we can trust his word.
Politically, there's not going to be seen as much of a difference because the only thing in this kind of era where there's all this information that hits you from different sides, and we kind of get information overload, the only thing that's needed right now by the former president is to be able to throw doubt and say, look, this happened, too, over here.
So, from a political perspective, this is actually probably pretty bad not just for the president but really for the idea of getting the justice through the political system.
Now, there will be a lot more details to come out. The question is who is interested in the nuances or who is interested in just simply saying, see, it happened over here, too.
And let me just say real quick, too, as a guy that's wrapping up, I had wrapped up my office in Congress. I never once saw anything that we had archived. We have to archive our stuff. That was 100 percent staff work. So, in terms of the details of this, I think that will be important to figure out. BLITZER: Yes. The chain of custody is really going to be critical in this investigation that has now begun. David Chalian, from the political perspective, whatever happens, this is very awkward for President Biden and his team given the investigation, the criminal investigation that's been going on involving the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. Nuance doesn't really have a space in this political aspect of this, like it does in the legal aspect here, Wolf. And this will be a huge political gift to Donald Trump, who hasn't had many political gifts of late, to be able to play off of this, as Congressman Kinzinger was saying.
Listen, the Biden team will undoubtedly point to what's materially different here, the more than 300 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago versus fewer than a dozen documents here. We have no idea what the content is of this. I understand Jamie talked about the classification level but we don't know what the content is and, of course, the cooperation piece. I mean, after all that time, back and forth between the Archives and the Trump team, the needing for a search warrant to go in. Obviously, none of that was needed as Biden's attorneys immediately put all into motion the processes that bring us to this moment.
They'll point that out until they're blue in the face but this new House Republican majority, they just bumped up on their to-do list the Biden document case that is going to be front and center now and use as a shield for Donald Trump and as a bit of a sword for this new Republican majority in the House.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And, Wolf, we should just note that they're already doing that. I mean, I think our control room has found a tweet from the House Judiciary GOP, that's the AP version of the story. You can see the number of sirens that they have put atop this particular headline. And to the congressman's point, I mean, there is nothing nuance about that tweet. That is the political version of the tweet and these are the people that ultimately are going to take this information, going to have subpoena power and the gavel in the Republican held House to do what they will with this.
And I think that's really the challenge for the Biden folks. I mean, I have yet to start to reach out to my political sources on this, as this was just breaking here as we came on the air. But I can already hear the Democrat strategists groaning about the fact that now, every time they want to try to bring up what happened with former President Donald Trump, which is incredibly problematic for all the reasons we have laid out, they're not going to have to answer questions about this. And from a political perspective, it almost makes it like a neutral issue despite the fact there are very significant differences between finding this information, handling it appropriately, doing the right thing when you find out you've screwed up versus dragging out the process for who knows why, refusing those subpoenas, eventually having to force federal investigators to demand you give those. I mean, obviously both of these camps handled these sets of documents very differently and there are plenty of people that are going to be making those points but the reality is this is the win that, you know, David Chalian was talking about for the Trump team at a time when they haven't had many.
BLITZER: Yes, very important point indeed.
Manu Raju, our Chief Congressional Correspondent, is getting reaction already up on Capitol Hill. This is obviously a major gift for the new Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, look, Wolf, this comes right at the time the House is beginning to formally organize, set up new committees, set up its rules for the new Congress. We do expect that vote to happen in a matter of minutes to adopt its new rules. And we also expect legislation to be approved this week to formally constitute a subcommittee, a select subcommittee on the House Judiciary Committee that will look into the FBI, that will look into the DOJ and was expected to focus in large part against the Republican efforts to try to contend that the effort to look into what was happening at Mar-a-Lago was political. They've been criticizing that investigation for some time.
And, undoubtedly, this will be part of the oversight that the new Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jim Jordan, will have going forward. He wants to bring in Merrick Garland, the attorney general. He wants to look into all the decisions that are being made. And if the Justice Department determines that perhaps Joe Biden did nothing wrong here but perhaps charges Donald Trump, that could be -- that will undoubtedly face a lot of pushback and scrutiny from this new Republican majority, which is trying to provide some defense of Donald Trump of sorts by pushing forward this new panel to investigate everything the Justice Department has going forward.
So, Wolf, we have not yet heard from the Republican leadership about this news. Of course, it just broke. But when the Mar-a-Lago news broke, we didn't hear much of anything from the Republican leaders about that situation. We'll see if anything changes here now that President Biden is the one that is now facing scrutiny about handling these documents.
BLITZER: Yes, serious scrutiny unfolding right now, Manu, stand by, we're going to get back to you.
Jamie, in that 60 Minutes interview that Biden did on September 18th of 2022, about a month or two before these classified documents were found in his private office here in Washington, he said, how could this possibly happen, how anyone could be that irresponsible. That's what he said then and then they discovered these SCI, these very sensitive classified documents at his private office in Washington.
GANGEL: Look, I'm sure that he meant that and it also looks terrible in hindsight because, here you go, there were classified documents.
Here's what we don't know. We don't know how they got there. We don't know who packed them up. Those are things we're going to have to find out. We need to know what's in these classified documents. Yes, they're top secret. But to Evan's point earlier, how sensitive is it? Are there sources and methods? Is it contemporaneous information that could be dangerous or sensitive right now?
So, those are the things we have to find out. Those are the things the Justice Department is looking at.
But as David Chalian pointed out, there's a big political side to this. This is -- let's assume for the moment that it was accidental, a mistake. This is the kind of political unforced error that I can't believe Donald Trump hasn't posted about yet. He will be shortly. It is the definition of a political gift to Trump and the House Republicans.
BLITZER: Yes. We have a lot more to report and to discuss about the breaking news that's unfolding right now. We'll stay on top of it. Classified documents once again found at one of President Biden's private offices here in Washington. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Once again, were following the breaking news right now, lawyers for President Biden finding classified documents from his time serving as vice president in the Obama administration in one of his private offices. They found the documents last November. The matter is now in the hands of the U.S. Justice Department, which is investigating.
Joining us now live, Republican Congressman Byron Donalds of Florida. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
Let me get your reaction to the breaking news. You're a member of Congress. You deal with classified information. What's your reaction to this?
REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): Oh, well, my reaction is pretty simple. I'm wondering why the vice president of the United States had classified documents outside of the hands of the intelligence community.
Listen, it's been pretty clear that presidents do have some classified documents, but the difference between a president and everybody else is the president has the ability to declassify information. The vice president has no ability to declassify information.
So, number one, what was he doing with classified information in his possession? Number two, why did it take six years? And I want to stress this for the American people. Joe Biden left the vice presidency in 2017. So, it's taken six years for these documents to surface. That is incredibly concerning. And point number three, and this is the one that most important, everybody can go back to the Hillary Clinton e-mail saga, we know other presidents have had classified information, but why was there a raid on Mar-a-Lago but now this story just kind of seeps out and everybody is saying oh, we want to get to the bottom of it and everybody is giving the benefit of the doubt. A vice president of the United States, or a secretary of state, or anybody else, should not be having classified information, period.
BLITZER: Well, they have top secret security clearances. They can have classified information. The question is whether they can take those documents with them as they're going to a private office. That's the difference.
DONALDS: The answer is very clear of that, Wolf. I don't want to, this is not a back and forth with you, but to be perfectly honest, yes, they have a classified clearance but that doesn't mean they get to remove documents.
BLITZER: You're right. They're not allowed to take classified information, especially highly classified documents that are sensitive compartment of information, SCI documents, which is what Trump did at Mar-a-Lago. So, you're ready to react to that as well, that Trump did was illegal? Is that what you're saying?
DONALDS: No, that's not what I'm saying at all because the president and his team have gone back and forth with the National Archives, saying he has an ability to declassify. That's something that's going to take care of in itself at a later date in its own time and its own space. My question is very clear. Why were those documents found six years later? Obviously, you're talking about the level of classification. So, they're incredibly serious documents.
And so, listen, I know the story is just breaking. I want to see if we're going to continue to follow this story as much we did the documents at Mar-a-Lago. I think that's only fair.
BLITZER: So, are we going to see the Republican leadership in the House launch a full scale formal investigation into this or leave it to the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney who's now investigating?
DONALDS: Well, obviously, because the FBI and Justice Department are on top of this, we're going to be monitoring that from here. Trust me, we have many other things that we need to be investigating with regards to this administration.
But one of the things that is probably going to come up is the differentiation about how the National Archives, the FBI might want to go about handling these different situations when it comes to documents and classified information that are being controlled outside of the hands of the intelligence community.
BLITZER: Before I let you go, Congressman, I want to get to the matter before the House of Representatives right now, the vote on the new rules that is coming up very soon. There's going to be a formal vote on the floor of the House. This is the first big test for the new speaker after last week's chaos, and you're very familiar with that. How confident are you, Congressman, that this rules package will pass tonight?
DONALDS: Well, two things. One, last week was not chaos. Last week was a deliberative, open conversation about leadership in the House of Representatives. It was an orderly process. We got the job done. Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House.
On to tonight with the rules package, I fully anticipate that it will pass and we're going to get to the business that the American people sent us here to do.
BLITZER: Congressman Byron Donalds, thank you very much. You can argue whether or not it was chaos or not, it seemed that pretty chaotic to those of us who are watching. But I let you go right now, I appreciate it very much.
BLITZER: All right. Let's get back to our political and legal experts for more analysis. Jamie, what's your reaction to what we just heard from the Republican congressman?
GANGEL: Look, I think it's exactly what we expected. There's going -- you're going to see the Republicans go to town on this, but you asked exactly the right question, which is, well, isn't that true for Donald Trump.
Evan made a point earlier that I think we should underscore that source of mine just texted me about, and that is to remember that the Trump prosecution would likely be about obstruction and that's certainly not the case here.
BLITZER: Because when they were told they found classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, they said give us all the other classified documents and they didn't. That's the obstruction.
GANGEL: Absolutely. Look, it is fair to ask why did it take so long, were they secure, who packed them, how did it get here.
But obstruction when you call the next day and say, hey, guys, we have these. That's --
PEREZ: And according to the documents that we've seen in court from the Justice Department, one of the things they said is that the reason why they conducted that extraordinary search of Mar-a-Lago back in August was the fact that they had reason to believe they had developed information, they had sources, they had information, including they obtained video that indicated that boxes of documents were being moved even after they had been told to make sure that the documents were safely stored and locked away in a storage room at Mar-a-Lago. So, according to the Justice Department, according the FBI, that's the reason for that extraordinary search.
Paula Reid just got a reaction from a member of former President Trump's legal team, and this person says to Paula that this whole issue that we're now talking about is indicative of the larger problem of trying to keep track of classified documents. It's an overclassification problem.
Now, we've heard this from Trump's legal team. That's one of the many things that they have brought up as part of the reason to explain why the former president, you know, was found with 300 or so documents that were marked as classified.
The issue being that there's too many things that are classified that should not be classified. Again, that's an argument for another time, but it is something that I think you're going to hear a lot more about. I think there're Democrats and Republicans who believe that there is a problem with overclassification.
BLITZER: Yes, and Adam Kinzinger is still with us. You know, Congressman, we heard repeatedly over these past several months as the Mar-a-Lago investigation of the classified documents found there. We heard from them. Look, every president they take all sorts of documents with them when they leave the presidency. And in this particular case, the vice president obviously had some documents that were taken inappropriately from the administration into this private office here in Washington, less than a dozen, not 300, but still highly classified documents.
So what's your reaction to this? Because the new Republican leadership, the new leadership in the House, is clearly going to go after the current president of the United States.
KINZINGER: Well, Wolf, fortunately, our justice system does nuance, and that's really important when it comes to justice. Unfortunately, our political system doesn't do nuance. And what you heard from Representative Donalds, he made I think a compelling case for the facts that he has to go on, but, first of, it's ludicrous to say a vice president can't have access to classified material or can. We have access to classified materials as members of Congress. And so, you know, those are those kinds of things.
Of course, the issue with Donald Trump wasn't that he had in his possession. It's that he wasn't cooperating with the Archives to return it, but, again, the problem is nuance doesn't really matter. Thankfully, on the justice side, it does.
But, look, yes, you're going to have moments where probably information -- if you're a vice president or a president and you live particularly in the president's case in a White House and everything is in essence secured, you have a little more flexibility to move stuff around than I do, for instance, when I'm in the Capitol and I have to stay specifically at a SCIF. But, again, all you have to do is throw enough doubt at the wall and that's kind of that moment we're at now, and Representative Byron did that pretty well.
BLITZER: Yes, Byron Donalds, the Republican Representative from Florida.
Everybody stand by. We're going to have more on the breaking news we're following, bombshell developments unfolding right now here in Washington, highly classified documents found in one of President Biden's private offices from his time when he served as vice president of the United States.
There's other news we're following right now. Prince Harry speaking out about the bridges he burned with his -- with the royal family, including his falling out with Prince William and his fears that Camilla, the queen consort, was dangerous. Our Anderson Cooper, who interviewed Prince Harry, he's standing by live. We will discuss right after this.
BLITZER: Britain's Prince Harry is speaking out just ahead of the release of his new tell all book that makes some truly stunning allegations about the loyal family and rift that his brother, Prince William, and King Charles. He spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper, who will join us live in just a moment.
But, first, CNN Bianca Nobilo has details of Prince Harry's royal bombshells.
PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: I love my father. I love my brother. I love my family. I always do. Nothing of what I've done in this book or otherwise has been any intention to harm them or hurt them.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Prince Harry justifying his bombshell expose of the royal family, the latest revelations that Camilla, the queen consort, leaked stories in a campaign to be queen.
PRINCE HARRY: With a family built on hierarchy and with her on the way to being queen consort, there was going to be people or bodies left in the street because of that.
NOBILO: Then there was the family's distrust of Meghan. Prince William and Kate didn't get on with Meghan from the get-go, he says.
PRINCE HARRY: Some of the things that my brother and sister-in-law and the way that they were acting or behaving definitely felt to me as though unfortunately that stereotyping was causing a bit of a barrier to them really sort of introducing or welcoming her in.
REPORTER: What do you mean specifically?
PRINCE HARRY: Well, American actress, divorced, biracial, there're all different parts to that and what that can mean. But if you are, like what a lot of my family do, if you are reading the press, the British tabloids at the same time as living the life, then there's a tendency where you can actually end up living in the tabloid bubble rather than the actual reality.
[18:40:11] NOBILO: He said he never accused his family of being racist when he and Meghan previously said someone had commented on their son's skin color. He also admits to being naive about the way that his wife would be treated.
PRINCE HARRY: What Meghan have to go through was similar in some part to what Kate and what Camilla went through, very different circumstances. But then you add in the race element, which was what the British press jumped on straight away. I went into this incredibly naive. I had no idea the British press were so bigoted, how I was probably bigoted before the relationship with Meghan.
NOBILO: The Duke of Sussex said his relationship did alter him but for the better.
PRINCE HARRY: Yes, I did change. And I'm really glad I changed. Because rather than getting drunk, falling out of clubs, taking drugs, I have now found the love of my life.
NOBILO: Harry says he doesn't speak to his brother and father anymore.
PRINCE HARRY: Well, they've shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile up until this point. And I'm not sure how honesty is burning bridges. Silence only allows the abuser to abuse, right? So, I don't know how staying silent is ever going to make things better.
NOBILO (on camera): Aside from the obvious pain and tension between Prince Harry and his family, the wider impact of these revelations on popular support for the monarchy in the United Kingdom and around the commonwealth is currently impossible to quantify. But as the monarchy defines itself as the head of the nation, a source of national identity and pride, these claims of anger, of mistreatment and lack of support by key members of the royal family are unlikely to pass without repercussion, Wolf.
BLITZER: CNN's Bianca Nobilo in London for us. Bianca, thank you very, very much.
Joining us now, CNN's Anderson Cooper. Anderson, you did an amazing interview with Prince Harry. Prince Harry shared with you the sense of denial he felt over his mother's death. I want you and our viewers to watch and listen to what he told you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You didn't believe she was dead.
PRINCE HARRY: For a long time. I just refused to accept that she was gone. Part of she would never do this to us, but also a part of maybe this is all part of a plan.
COOPER: I mean, you really believed maybe she had just decided to disappear for a time. PRINCE HARRY: For a time and that she would call us and we were going to join her.
COOPER: How long did you believe that?
PRINCE HARRY: Years, many, many years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How much of this memoire and what he's now saying to you and others is about him learning to process the incredible grief he went through when his mother died?
COOPER: You know, a lot of it. This is a 614 pages -- sorry, 416-page book and it's you know, I've read the whole thing. It is a memoire of grief. It is a memoire about the impact of losing your mother when you're 12 years old and the ripple effects of that throughout his entire life, which are still in some ways being played out.
Obviously, the revelations that he puts in the book about his feelings toward Camilla, his feelings that she was essentially throwing him under the bus or he was one of the bodies left in the street as she was trying to rehabilitate her image in the press and what he says is a relationship she built with the press where she was trading information to protect herself or better her on coverage essentially. And that's a game he says is being played to this day by members of the royal family.
But it is as much it is a book about with revelations and an inside look at the rift that exists, it's really a memoire of Harry and his life. And we all think we know who he is because we've watch him grow up, we've watch him from the time he was born and yet reading the book, you realize how little you actually know about him until now.
BLITZER: Is Prince Harry, Anderson, also trying to set the record straight that his family relationships, especially with his father and his brother, were damaged before he met his now wife, Meghan?
COOPER: He certainly makes clear in the book that, you know, he and his brother, William, who we all remember them growing up, we've seen the pictures of them with Princess Diana, often dressed in the same kind of costumes and things like that, as moms will do to their kids, he says at her death, you know, there was a fork in the road and that they both experienced this trauma together and yet very apart even in that he wasn't able to talk about it with his brother and they both dealt with it in very different ways over the ensuing years.
And so his point is that there has been this tension or this divergence between the two before Meghan ever entered the picture.
BLITZER: Prince Harry also told you, Anderson, that it would take what he called a constructive and private conversation to begin healing these rifts with his family.
How does he grapple with his new honesty, potentially now opening up some new wounds?
COOPER: Yeah, I think the idea is, you know, he says he would very like, he wants a relationship. He says he loves his father. He says he loves his brother. He wants a relationship. He says there needs to be a conversation that doesn't leak out, the ability to have a conversation, an honest airing of hurts and apologies on all sides, including from him from Harry and Meghan.
And yet that seems entirely unlikely at this stage particularly because there's not any trust in that anybody has that that information would not be leaked out certainly from what Harry had told me. He's concerned that you know at times when he has tried to have private conversations with members of the royal family, those have been leaked and he's afraid that would happen as well, continually.
BLITZER: Anderson, thanks so much. First of all, thanks so much for doing this really excellent, powerful interview, but also for joining us tonight here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
COOPER: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: And to our viewers, you can see more of Anderson's really powerful interview with Prince Harry on "AC360" later tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. I recommend you watch.
Just ahead, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's incredible progress as he leaves the hospital in Cincinnati just one week after his life threatening injury on the field.
BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news we're following.
Classified documents from President Biden's time as vice president found in one of his private offices here in Washington.
CNN's chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju is back with us. He's got more details from Capitol Hill.
Manu, I understand you just got reaction from the new speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I asked him about this specifically. And he dismissed the suggestion that they just found these documents from the time that Joe Biden was vice president. He said to me, oh, really, they just found them after all these years? And then he said, what has he said about the other president having classified documents?
Then I asked him, well, are you concerned about Donald Trump having apparently more documents at Mar-a-Lago that were classified than Joe Biden had during his tenure as vice president at his private office? And he went on to say, Democrats overplayed their hand on Mar-a-Lago. And he said it's more important that you see this vice president after all these years still having these documents. He then walked onto the House floor.
Now, another member of the top Republican member, James Comer, who is going to chair the house oversight committee, that has oversight over the National Archives. He told me he plans to send a letter within the next 48 hours to the National Archives asking for more information about these classified documents.
So, Republicans seeing an opening here after this revelation. Even they said very little about Donald Trump and criticized the Justice Department, now criticizing the president for -- if he indeed mishandled these classifies documents.
BLITZER: Yeah, not surprised that that reaction is coming in.
Manu, thank you very, very much.
Another story we're following tonight, an important one. Damar Hamlin is out of the Cincinnati Hospital that helped save his life after last Monday night's terrifying on-field collapse. It's a truly remarkable turnaround for the Buffalo Bills' safety who is now receiving medical team back in Buffalo.
CNN sports anchor Coy Wire has our report.
SEAN MCDERMOTT: We're happy to have him back.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Damar Hamlin is back in Buffalo, returning home for the first time after suffering a cardiac arrest during a Monday night football game in Cincinnati a week ago.
MCDERMOTT: It's clear that he continues to move and take steps in a positive direction here. And even though I'm not physically with him right now, we're not physically with him. It's like anything else, when you have your family close by, it just feels right.
WIRE: Hamlin was released from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center this morning. After his condition upgraded, he was cleared to fly.
DR. WILLIAM KNIGHT IV, UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI: Damar Hamlin has met a number of key milestones on his journey to recovery all to get him to this point that he can be safely returned to Buffalo.
WIRE: The 24-year-old Bill safety tweeting, happy to be back in Buffalo, along with this heartfelt message. Watching the world come together around me on Sunday was truly an amazing feeling. The same love you all have shown me is the same love that I plan to put back into the world and more.
His positive health updates throughout the week fueled his team in their first game since his collapse against rival team New England patriots.
ANNOUNCER: Touchdown! Nyheim Hines, 96 yards!
WIRE: Fans erupted with joy on the first play. Hamlin shared his excitement. Tweeting from his hospital bed with mom and dad by his side.
DR. TIMOTHY PRITTS, UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: When the opening kickoff was run back, he jumped up and down, got out of his chair, set I think every alarm off in the ICU in the process. But he was fine, it was just an appropriate reaction to a very exciting play.
WIRE: The last time the Buffalo Bills took a kickoff back for a touchdown, three years and three months ago. The same number Hamlin wears. The number three now a symbol of support for Hamlin across the NFL. Hamlin has been transferred to Buffalo General to continue treatment.
MCDERMOTT: I know his parents are going to be with him there. And I think that helps knowing that he's well taken care of. Just like, overall it just continues to put our minds at ease that he's in good hands and that he's moving in the right direction.
WIRE (on camera): And Damar Hamlin's story has moved the world in the right direction. The story about Hamlin became a story about humanity. The people of Buffalo enduring and arising yet again after another tragedy, like they did after the deadly racist mass shooting seven months ago, after the deadly snowstorm that took the lives of dozen, a couple of weeks ago.
This time when Damar Hamlin's heart stopped, the whole world beat as one, showing empathy, grace, compassion and Buffalove, Wolf. Your hometown of Buffalo, our beloved Buffalo Bills have brought out the best in all of us.
BLITZER: I'm so proud of my fellow Buffalonians. So proud of the Buffalo Bills as well.
Coy, excellent reporting, thank you so much.
We'll have more news in just a moment.
BLITZER: Police in Newport, Virginia, say they're considering potential charges for the parents of a 6-year-old boy who allegedly shot his teacher inside their classroom.
CNN's Brian Todd has our report.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A search for answers tonight after an unthinkable crime in Newport News, Virginia. Police say a first grader shot a teacher, Abby Zwerner, on purpose after an altercation.
CHIEF STEVE DREW, NEWPORT NEWS, VA POLICE: Mrs. Zwerner was providing instruction. The six-year-old child displayed a firearm, pointed it at her and fired one round. There was no physical struggle or fight.
She suffered a gunshot wound. But she was still able to get all of her students out of the classroom.
TODD: The gun was legally purchased by the mother, police say.
DREW: We determined that the firearm was in the residence where they lived and the child had obtained that firearm, placed it in his backpack and brought it to school.
TODD: The teacher made it from the classroom to the main office, despite a bleeding chest wound, according to a grandparent who happened to be there and administered CPR to the teacher.
LOWANDA SAMPLE-RUSK, GRANDPARENT OF A STUDENT, HELPED WOUNDED TEACHER: She came into the office saying that she had been shot. She had blood on her hand and blood on her shirt. And she said that she had been shot. She -- I don't know if she fainted, but she had fallen to the floor.
TODD: Here's what one 8-year-old experienced in another classroom.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: We all stayed quiet. Two people were crying out loud. And when the cops came, we were marching to the gym, and we were all safe.
TODD: A school employee rushed in and restrained the child.
DREW: The child became a little combative, actually struck the school employee that was restraining him.
TODD: And a SWAT team then secured the scene. No students were hurt.
MAYOR PHILLIP JONES, NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA: But I can tell you that the individuals responsible will be held accountable. I can promise that.
TODD: The suspect now receiving treatment at a medical facility under a temporary detention order. The teacher upgraded to stable condition.
GEORGE PARKER III, SUPERINTENDENT, NEWPORT NEWS, PUBLIC SCHOOLS: We need to keep the guns out of the hands of our young people. These are the things that happen when we have access to weapons.
TODD (on camera): Ask if the parents of the child will be charged in this case, Police Chief Steve Drew says they can't make the determination until they talk more with investigators, with child protective services, and with the commonwealth attorney's office. As for the next steps for the child himself, the chief said that's up
to a judge to decide -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd reporting, thanks very much, and to our viewers, thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.