tv CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell CNN September 7, 2022 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
their home. it always boggles my mind that others can't understand that a 3-year-old kid is going to say no, mom, leave me on the side of the rio grande, you go. i'm serious. so they could stay and contribute, and they've contributed incredibly, their talents, it's a great generation they represent. i can go on and defend what all that you've done, expanding civil rights, issue the call on the climate crisis, helped us find that amazing grace that, that amazing grace even in darkness. in countless hours over countless meetings under intense pressure, we always knew barack obama, we always knew you'd do what you thought was right, even if it was going to cost you politically. you know, we trusted him, all of you in this room. we believed in him, and we counted on him, and i still do, and i still do.
[ applause ] fo folks, that's why the country elected you twice, and it's why you'll be considered one of the most consequential presidents in our history along with one of the most consequential first ladies. you know, michelle, he knows we all know, he couldn't have done it without you. [ applause ] i know i couldn't. in fact, during our -- we had lunch once a week every week come hell or high water, and everybody wondered all the important things we talked about, probably 40% of the time we talked about family. we most talked about our girls and my grandchildren and my children. you embody dignity beyond measure, michelle, and together you and barack made history. you both generated hope for
millions of people who were left behind for so long, and it matters. you both did it with such grace and such class. you know, you dream big, for american people helping lift their burden with the blessing of hope. it was so underestimated just having hope. this is the gift of the obama presidency to the country. it's a gift i felt personally. as we used to say in the senate, mr. president, excuse the point of personal privilege. you were always there. i remember -- i remember how you were with me when our son was passing, and i remember the eulogy you gave on his behalf. you'll never fully understand just how much it meant to jill and me and the entire family. i always remember that night we accepted the nomination in denver. my granddaughter finnegan great friend of your daughters, came up to our room and said, pop,
can we -- can we move the beds out of my room. and i said why do you want to move the beds out of your room? he said so her two sisters and malia and sasha, we could all get sleeping begs and lie on the floor and sleep together and watch the convention on the floor. that image of them all together will stay with me forever, and i think it melded our families in ways that it's hard for other people to understand. for eight years we grew to be a family for each other through our highs and our lows. a family from distinct backgrounds brought together by a shared value set, and all of the things that the families have done together, i imagine there may have been other relationships like this between a president and a vice president, but i can't think -- none comes to mind. jill and i have been waiting to host events at the white house for a long time coming out of the pandemic, and it's fitting,
fitting that we can do that now by unveiling the portraits of two dear friends and two great americans who are still held very tightly in the hearts of the american people. portraits that are going to hack on the walls of this sacred place, the people's house forever, and a reminder of all here and now for those that come to power that hope and change matters. barack and michelle, it's my honor to invite you both to the stage for the unveiling of your official portraits. come on up. [ applause ]
>> all set, here we go. [ applause ] [ applause ] >> thank you so much. thank you, everybody. thank you. thank you. thank you so much. please, everybody have a seat. have a seat. thank you. thank you. thank you, sit down, everybody. thank you very much. it is great to be back. the president and dr. biden,
vice president harris and second gentleman emhoff, thank you so much for your hospitality. thanks for letting us invite a few friends to the white house. we will try not to tear up the place. [ laughter ] someone -- [ laughter ] someone once said that if you're looking for a friend in washington, get a dog. our family was lucky enough to have two wonderful dogs, but i was even luckier to have a chance to spend eight years working day and night with a man who became a true partner and a true friend. joe, it is now america's good fortune to have you as
president. [ applause ] >> you have guided us through some perilous times. you've built on and gone beyond the work we all did together to expand health care, to fight climate change, to advance social justice and to promote economic fairness. thanks to your decency and thanks to your strength. maybe most of all thanks to your faith in our democracy and the
american people. the country's better off than when you took office, and we should all be deeply grateful for that, so thank you so much. [ applause ] to all the former obama biden staffers who are here in person, some of you are watching at home, thank you for being a part of this. when people ask me what i miss most about the white house years, it is not air force one that i talk about, although i miss air force one. [ laughter ] it's the chance that i had to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you, to have a chance to witness so many talented, selfless, idealistic, good
people working tirelessly every day to make the world better. and for eight years and even longer for some of you, i drew on your energy and your dedication and your goodness. you inspired me, and i never wanted to disappoint you. and i tried to reflect the same heart and character that you displayed every day. even during the toughest times, it was all of you that kept me going. so it's good to be back to have a chance to see all of you and to once again say thank you. now, as much as i miss our work together, what's been a special joy is to see what's happened since because so many of you are doing amazing things, whether
it's in government, in the private sector, in academia or nonprofits, and i'm especially glad to see so many of you serving president biden as well as you served me. although, now some of you who -- let's face it, you were kids back then, are now in charge and running the show, which is a little shocking. [ laughter ] and may i also explain some of the gray hairs i'm seeing on some of you. but it validates what i had always hoped, which is that our time together would only be the beginning of incredibly impactful careers, and some of you who i've had a chance to stay in touch with, i'm thrilled to see that you started families of your own. i am a little disappointed that
i haven't heard of anyone naming a kid barack yet. >> or michelle. >> or michelle. but there is still time. [ laughter ] finally, i want to say a special thanks to the white house staff. we had a chance to see them all before hand. [ applause ] you took incredible care of our family for eight years and along the way you became a part of it, and we have not ever forgotten the kindness that you showed us. now, when michelle and i had our portraits unveiled at the national portrait gallery a few years back i said that as far as
i could tell, no one in my family tree had ever sat for a portrait before. i certainly had not, and now all of a sudden we've done it twice. but these portraits have a special significance because, as joe mentioned, they will hang in the white house alongside portraits of other presidents and first ladies, dating back to george and martha. so it was important to find the right people to paint them. i want to thank sharon sprung for capturing everything i love about michelle, her grace, her intelligence, and the fact that she's fine.
just saying. she is. her portrait is stunning, and i want to thank robert mccurdy for taking on a much more difficult subject and doing a fantastic job with mine. robert is known for his paintings of public figures, toni morrison, the dalai lama, nelson mandela, muhammad ali, but what i love about robert's work is that he paints people exactly the way they are, for better or worse. he captures every wrinkle on your face, every crease in your shirt. you'll note that he refused to hide any of my gray hairs.
refused my request to make my ears smaller. he also talked me out of wearing a tan suit, by the way. [ cheers and applause ] [ laughter ] his work is so precise that at first glance it looks like a photograph, and robert also paints his subjects looking straight ahead, so it feels like you're face-to-face forming a connection, and that appealed to me, in part because presidents so often get air brushed. they even take on a mythical status, especially after you've gone, and people forget all the stuff they didn't like about you. but what you realize when you're sitting behind that desk and
what i want people to remember about michelle and me is that presidents and first ladies are human beings like everyone else. we have our gifts, we have our flaws. you've all experienced mine. we have good days and bad days. we feel the same joy and sadness, frustration and hope, and while it takes a certain amount of self-confidence to be president, there are nights where we lie awake wondering if this or that decision was the right one. i've always described the presidency as a relay race. you take the baton from someone, you run your leg as hard and as well as you can, and then you hand it off to someone else knowing that your work will be incomplete. the portraits hanging in the white house chronicle the runners in that race, each of us tasked with trying to bring the
country we love closer to its highest aspirations. and when future generations walk these halls and look up at these portraits, i hope they get a better honest sense of who michelle and i were, and i hope they leave with a deeper understanding that if we could make it here, maybe they can too. they can do remarkable things too. now, it is my pleasure to introduce someone who needs no introduction, michelle was the best thing about living in the white house and, let me tell you, the pastry chefs here deliver delicious pies on request, so that is saying something. [ laughter ] i could not ask for a better life partner and in my humble opinion, america could not have asked for a better first lady.
please give it up for michelle obama. [ cheers and applause ] >> thank you, thank you, thank you, guys. [ cheers and applause ] okay. thank you,everybody. oh, well, let me thank my husband, first of all, for such spicy remarks. [ laughter ] and of course thank you to joe and jill, president biden and first lady jill biden.
thank you for inviting us back. this means so much to us. we were saying at lunch that the girls have lived in this house longer than they've lived anywhere. and so this, as odd of an home as it can be, as wonderful as it can be, it is a special place because we raised our girls here, and it means so much to come back to friends and to be able to spend time talking about our girls and so i am grateful to both of you for the work that you're doing, the love that you're showing us, our staff, and the work that you're doing for this country, thank you so much. [ applause ] and of course to vice president
harris and i love to say this, second gentleman emhoff, let's say it again, second gentleman, you're doing a great job. [ applause ] thank you for joining us today, and i can't go any further without, of course, acknowledging all of the amazing staff, friends, you're more than staff. you're friends, you're family to us, particularly the people who have been part of my team over the years. i don't have time to name everyone, thank goodness, but you all know who you are from the campaign to the white house to today. i would not be who i am without your passion and your faith, and all of the love that you poured into everything that we accomplished together, and it was amazing, historic, what did
sam cass used to say? unprecedented. [ laughter ] you all mean the world to me, and i mean that from the bottom of my heart. so thank you. proud of you, proud of the work that you've done, proud of what you're doing. i also want to take the time to recognize the resident staff. as barack said, you guys made this a home. we snatched up a few of you all and took you with us, but for those of you who we couldn't bring, we miss you so much. we miss you so much. the best part about this house was you all, so it's so good to see you, and you all look good. so good. i'd also like to recognize stewart mclauren, of course john rogers, it's been amazing working with you all over the years. i have to recognize bill allman who has been fabulous to work
with over the years. [ applause ] and of course felma golden and my dear friend michael smith for their -- we are where we are because of their comprehensive and rigorous work to identify these incredible artists, and that brings me to our artist. of course robert mccurdy who, you know, you did a good job. you did a good job, but i got to spend a lot of time with sharon sprung, and sharon now joins a small but mighty group of women who have painted an official portrait here at the white house. [ applause ]
and i'm thrilled that this extraordinary work is going to be enshrined forever as part of our nation's history, but sharon, it was wonderful to work with you. you are a true spirit. that's one of the reasons why we connected. your work is phenomenal, but it was your essence, your soul, the way you saw me, the way we interacted, and it shows in this beautiful work, so thank you for your brilliance, your artistry, and your patience. [ laughter ] in this process. i remember i went to see the work in brooklyn and poor sharon, because no one is supposed to know who the artists are, so her studio is her home, and so she had this piece in her home. you couldn't have guests over. you were frightened that it would get out. you just wanted it out of your space. [ laughter ] and every year i thought about she must be going crazy.
so thank you, thank you so much. let's give them both a round of applause. [ app [ applause ] believe it or not, it is still a bit odd for me to stand in this historic space, see this big beautiful painting staring back at me. growing up on euclid avenue, i never could have imagined that any of this would be part of my story, but even if it's all still a bit awkward for me, i do recognize why moments like these are important, why all of this is absolutely necessary. traditions like this matter, not just for those of us who hold these positions but for everyone participating in and watching
our democracy. you see the people, they make their voices heard with the vote. we hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power. those of us lucky enough to serve, work as barack said as hard as we can for as long as we can, as long as the people choose to keep us here, and once our time is up, we move on, and all that remains in this hallowed place are our good efforts and these portraits. portraits that connect our history to the present day. portraits that hang here as history continues to be made. so for me, this day is not just about what has happened. it's also about what could happen because a girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to jacqueline kennedy and dolley madison. she was never supposed to live in this house, and she
definitely wasn't supposed to serve as first lady. >> we love you, michelle. [ applause ] >> love you back. [ applause ] but i've always wondered where does that supposed to come from. who determines it? and too often in this country, people feel like they have to look a certain way or act a certain way to fit in, that they have to mauke a lot of money or come from a certain group or class or faith in order to matter, but what we're looking at today, a portrait of a biracial kid with an unusual name and the daughter of a water pump operator and a stay-at-home mom, what we are seeing is a reminder that there's a place for everyone in this country
because as barack said, if the two of us can end up on the walls of the most famous address in the world, then, again, it is so important for every young kid who is doubting themselves to believe that they can too. that is what this country is about. it's not about blood or pedigree or wealth. it's a place where everyone should have a fair shot, whether you're a kid taking two buses and a train just to get to school or a single mother who's working two jobs to put some food on the table, or an immigrant just arriving, getting your first apartment, forging a future for yourself in a place you dreamed of. that's why for me this day isn't about me or barack. it's not even about these beautiful paintings. it's about telling that fuller story, a story that includes every single american ain every
single corner of the country so our kids and grandkids can see something more for themselves. and as much as some folks might want us to believe that that story has lost some of its shine, that division and discrimination and everything else might have dimmed its light, i still know deep in my heart that what we share as my husband continues to say is so much bigger than what we don't. our democracy is so much stronger than our differences, and this little girl from the south side is blessed beyond measure to have felt the truth of that fuller story throughout her entire life, never more so than today. so thank you to president biden, to sharon, and to all of you today for playing a part in this day and all the days that led to it. and now it is my privilege to
introduce someone who is stepping in shoes and doing it well, someone who has devoted so much of her life to education, working to broaden the idea of whose story matters. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my friend first lady dr. jill biden. [ applause ] [ applause ] >> thank you. >> joe, honestly, everybody
stood but joe. [ laughter ] >> thank you, michelle. for a friendship i treasure. 14 years ago, 14 years ago, michelle, on a cold night in november a sea of people gathered in grant park to be a part of history. there was laughter and music and dancing. there were tears as friends and strangers alike held each other overwhelmed with the joy that hope and change had been realized. the crowd roared, radiating the sense that anything we could dream was within our reach, but at the heart of that enormous
moment was a family, two little girls who would grow up exploring the secret halls and hideaways of the white house, a mom, who would bring her whole heart to serving the american people as first lady while still guiding and protecting her family with ferocious devotion. a grandmother who would do absolutely anything for the family she loves and even move to washington, d.c. [ laughter ] and a father who showed the world the meaning of yes, we can. [ applause ] for joe and me and our entire family standing on that stage next to you was like waking up
in a new world, a place where with hard work anything was possible. and it wasn't just the bidens. so many of you were also there. you remember how it felt. it was magic, wasn't it? that night your family connected us all, and our family, the obama, biden team, every one of you who were fired up and ready to go, together we changed the curse of this country forever, and when i look at these portraits, i see family. your family, the family we all built, and the families across america that we served together. i see love, joy, and fellowship,
and we are honored to hang them today and share them with the world. so thank you for being with us, and now please join us in the state dining room for a reception. thank you for being here. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats while the president and dr. biden, president and mrs. bobama and te vice president and second gentleman depart. >> all right, they're already on their fefeets now -- feet, did say you're been listening to barack obama and michelle boem a obama and joe and jill biden. >> this was the unveiling of the
official white house portraits and a return of a washington tradition that has not been celebrated for ten years. >> let's bring in abby phillip, presidential historian douglas brinkley, and richard j. powell, author of the obama portraits and a professor of art history at duke university. professor, let me start with you and what was unveiled today, is this what you expected, and what do you think? >> well, thank you for having me this afternoon. i was totally blown away. i wasn't -- i didn't know what to expect. i didn't know who the portraitists were. i couldn't imagine how they might do something in portraiture that would top amy cheryl, and yet when i saw these two initially, i was surprised in a good way. i found that robert mccurdy's portrait, this was a style that he works in, is on one hand what we are familiar with from him.
on the other hand, it was a portrait of barack obama who is quite a unique individual in his very stature and bearing, and of course sharon sprung's portrait is just -- it's amazing. i mean, i've got a lot of things to say, but i'll just stop here for a moment. >> well, you don't have to. i'm interested in what you have to say because we've been talking about it throughout this whole -- victor is an art aficionado, i should let everyone know. you were very struck by the michelle obama one. >> it is very romantic what we're seeing from sharon sprung, of course the juxtaposition to the mccurdy picture, the stark white background, the choices of not adding, you know, a picture of the dogs or the kids or those elements just the first lady. more from you, professor. >> go ahead. >> well, if the sharon sprung portrait of mrs. obama, i think what really struck me was the
color. the combinations of color, that peach background for the walls. that pale teal blue dress, that couch, that umpire styled couch, and of course michelle obama's milk chocolate complexion holding it all together, and when i looked at it, i have to say i flashed on the famous harlem renaissance artist, archibald motley who was known for these glorious pictures of black women in chicago, seated in chairs and dressed in beautiful clothes and interesting interiors. it's almost as if sharon sprung has kind of channelled that harlem renaissance aesthetic in this portrait of mrs. obama. >> really helpful context. abby, tell us your thoughts if you'd like to, about the artwork, but also about what they both said, particularly
michelle obama who talked about the bedrock principles of democracy that she still holds dear that, you know, have been challenged lately. >> well, victor and professor powell are here, so i really -- i don't have anything to say about the art except that the port portraits really are beautiful, and you know, first of all, i want to just say i mean, for both barack obama and michelle obama, the undercurrent of today's event is the extraordinary history of it all. the first first family of african descent with portraits now going to be hung on the walls of the white house is an extraordinary moment, and i think each in their own way they are so visually striking in ways that are actually reminiscent of some of the other portraits of the obamas that, you know, as i've said before, are -- they are -- they are tourist attractions, and i think these for those who can come to the white house will be too because they are so striking and
unmistakable, and michelle obama in particular talks about this a lot. she has talked about living in this house that was built by slaves, and she kind of echoed some of that today talking about how this was an institution that i think the people who created it never imagined a woman looking like her ever living there, having her portrait hung there, having her portrait hung alongside the jack qie kennedysf the world, i think is a profound moment. as you mentioned, alisyn she had something to say about this country and about what her husband ran on, which was this idea that there's no red america and no blue america, and she made it very clear that after all that has transpired, after everything that has been said about them, the way that they have been racially demonized,
including by people who -- who subsequently held the office after they left, she still believes that that is true of this country, and i think it was notable that she took this moment when she returned to the white house to say all of that to the country when she didn't -- she certainly did not have to. but she wanted to convey that message it seems. >> white house chief correspondent kaitlan collins is now with us. and what she said, i jotted some of it down here, traditions like this matter. for everyone watching our democracy, she highlighted the peaceful transfer of power. we stay for as long as the people choose to keep us here, and when our time is up, we move on. alisyn and i were talking about that this is not -- i say not a partisan message, but it is a political one in this environment. talk more about what we heard from the former first lady
there. >> yeah, i think you could make that argument given of course what we just saw happen in january of 2021, when the former president was fighting resisting giving up power, and having that peaceful transfer and her reference to the inauguration, of course, that trump did not attend there as he -- whenever he was leaving office. they did not reference trump by name today during these comments but obviously that loomed over itme it. this ceremony did not happen when trump was in office. typically it's the current president who hosts the immediate predecessor for the unveiling of the portraits. it's a tradition that dates back decades. the obamas also were not interested in doing a ceremony then. i thought the former first lady's comments in the room were especially striking as she did talk about that victor, and she did talk about what the inauguration means and saying, quote, once our time is up we move on, and making a reference to also the historical nature of her being first lady, what that meant to her, raising their
children in the white house, but very clearly referencing a broader argument about american democracy and about the american presidency and what that looks like. some other comments she made talking about the people make their voices heard, that's why we hold this inauguration to showcase this peaceful transfer of power. those are very notable comments. she didn't reference trump. she didn't really have to. obviously that is something that hangs in everyone's mind when they think about the transfer of power and how that -- he resisted that and fought that and attempted to overturn the election multiple times. and so that was part of the reference there. without making it this overtly political message in the east room just now as they were unveiling these portraits. a very notable comment from michelle obama there, though. >> so tell us your thoughts. what is the significance of today beyond this ceremony of it all? >> well, it's important to -- we talked about donald trump a lot, but we also have been living in the age of obama and biden. i mean, together, you know, they've had a ten-year run, 12
to come, maybe more. they have been dominant figures of our time. it's amazing to have the obamas back in the white house as michelle obama pointed out, they raised their kids there. it really was home to them. it's important to the continuity between the obama and biden administrations. we just hear, you know, obama talk about a lot of those people in the audience were kids when he started his presidency. now they're grained a little bit, and they're in charge. they're running the situation room and the like. it was a delightful ceremony, and i do completely think that tourists from around the world, their cameras are going to be drawn to both of these portraits. i think robert mccurdy's is magnificent. it's exactly the barack obama that i know, meaning he likes things real. the fact that it is photo realism. that portrait will be on a cover of biography of obama.
it will be used over and over again, and it's going to be one of the star attractions for people that come to the white house. and like wise, michelle obama's more magical kind of portrait is one that young women in particular, and women of color are going to gravitate to because they reminded us today what pioneers both obamas were on shattering the glass ceiling of racial discrimination in proving that a black americans cannot only run our country but run it for two terms and run it well. >> yeah. there is, professor, this photograph in your book of young black girls, she has to be no more than 3 or 4 years old standing and staring at amy cheryl's portrait of michelle obama at the national portrait gallery, and to that point of now seeing these images in the white house, this as doug said will be one of them, but also the artist, the selection of
sharon sprung. michelle obama went to great ends to add to the diverse it of the white house collection, not before 2015 was there a black woman who was an artist a part of that collection with oma thomas. talk more about the selection here of the artist, of the look, of this image for the former first couple. >> well, as mrs. obama mentioned, she is ably supported in this quest to have portraits in the white house with the director of the studio museum in harlem, and i would just have to say that the obamas have shown when they were in the white house that they were very dedicated to the arts and wanted to celebrate the arts and made a point to bring in contemporary artists as well as historical works. especially by african american artists, and so it's kind of no
surprise that with not just the incredible portraits that are at the portrait gallery, but these portr portraits, which will be in the white house, that they have decided on some interesting afte apg ls and perspectives on this idea of likeness, perhaps with the khendi wylie portraits we were really in the realm of portraits as art. with these two portraits, what really strikes me is they are very much about likenesses. as president obama said in his comments, these portraits speak to honesty. that was a word that really struck me as i was looking from comments to you today, because what one feels in these portraits is a real sense of their character, and their -- not just their likeness, but their persona, and when, again, mrs. obama stood up and began to speak, i was thinking about her
warmth and her genuineness coming through, especially in the sprung painting. victor, you said this was a sensuous image, i think that's what i gleaned from what you said. i agree. this is a work that really speaks to humanity and the fullness of her character. >> professor, thank you so much. richard powell, douglas brinkley, abby phillip, kaitlan collins, thank you, and a bit of history there, the first african americans to hold those positions now with official portraits in the white house. okay, meanwhile, there are new details about the classified documents found in donald trump's mar-a-lago. one was so top secret it reportedly includes a foreign government's nuclear capabilities. and steve bannon is expected to surrender to new york state prosecutors. how his legal problems tie back to trump's effort to build a wall. pressure, pressure.
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we're learning more about the top secret government documents found inside donald trump's florida resort. "the washington post" reports that among the files is a document describing a foreign government's nuclear capabilities. sources tell "the washington post" that some of these seized documents detail top secret u.s. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. joining us to discuss this cnn counterterrorism analyst phil mudd who held positions at the cia and fbi and elliot williams who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the justice department. this is worse than we even imagined, phil. what "the washington post" is reporting in terms of this top
secret highly, you know, secret compartmented info, you have to -- yeah, you could only look at this information in a secure room. it's worse than we thought. what -- i mean where do we even start? what does this do to our relations with every other country and how dangerous is all this? >> let's start with the danger piece. to help you understand what we've got if you think of top secret information as a closet, some of the information in that closet is so secret it's in ray shoe box. to get in the shoe box you have to have need to know, in other words, you have to have a reason to read that information and typically in my experience you have to sign specific documents, you get briefed in, you get briefed out. some of the documents in this category i looked at, had you to sign in every time you read the documents. and the reason is simple, it's called sources and methods. if this information is released it's not just the intelligence that's significant, it's the fact that you're revealing how you collect it so you've heard of the department of justice and
particularly the fbi, the cia doing damage assessments for the u.s. if this information gets out if it's about a country like, say, russia, china, iran, north korea, they immediately take it and say, where are the americans collecting, how can we close the gaps and equally significant, what is it that the americans don't know, for example, maybe they have a facility that wasn't featured in these documents, maybe we should invest if we're iran or north korea more in that facility because it's clearly not compromised. think, alisyn, not just about intelligence that's revealed, think that it reveals how we collect it and another government will close the gaps if this stuff ever gets out. >> beyond the possession of these documents there at mar-a-lago, what is the relevance of holding them back beyond the handover in january, beyond the subpoena in june, that the fbi had to come and take these documents in august? >> yeah, well, victor, there's a few different problems with how
the documents were handled. for the purposes of the statues we know the justice department is looking into, so, number one, mishandling the documents, showing them to other people, or concealing them from law enforcement when they came to them all could be charged as crimes in different ways and that act you're describing there of not providing them to the justice department after the justice department and the national records administration had repeatedly sought to get access to them could be criminally charged so it's incredibly serious just based on the number of requests that have been made for them. >> so, elliot, is donald trump going to be criminally charged? what more evidence does the doj need to see? >> you know, it's hard to know whether any one individual is going to be criminally charged. now, look, alisyn, to be clear, a federal judge has found probable cause to believe that a crime was committed on the grounds of mar-a-lago, whether that was donald trump or somebody else, now, we should be
careful here because the severity of or the sensitivity of the defense information that we've seen here doesn't change anyone's guilt or innocence of the offense we're talking about, right? the mere fact these were nuclear secrets, it would still have been a crime if they were just about bullets or ammunition or anything that could have helped hurt national security. i mean, i think we should care about it and it's a very, very big deal that they were nuclear secrets but it's still a crime, obstruction of justice is still obstruction of justice department and if there's evidence trump committed these rather than people around him, of course, he should be charged. >> phil, this is "the washington post" reporting so if it's true, how does that correlate with some of the explanations and excuses that we're hearing from trump supporters that this was a guy who just took his work home at the end of the day and wanted to prepare for the next day or there's this standing declassification order or someone just sloppily put these
in a box as he left the white house? if these documents were there, can any of that be true? >> well, it can't be for a few reasons. first i initially -- i should say this up front dismissed the reports after the fbi raid because i assume the stuff was confidential, secret, i agree with a lot of the public perception about confidential and secret information. when i was in government that stuff was routinely overclassified. over the past weeks when i've seen the information at mar-a-lago as you suggest, the explanations for why that could be there fall off the table. for example, routine declassification, you're going to have to have somebody explain to us why the president of the united states or the former president would want foreign governments to see it. why would you want it declassified? the president routinely keeps sensitive stuff around his house. you don't keep top secret code word stuff around a beach house. you might keep attorney/client privilege but not top secret code word. have to go to the question of, this is why i think there will
be charges, who decided to keep it there? who chose to keep it there after the fbi asked? who signed papers and affirmed nothing was left there? it is not the crime, victor, in my judgment, it's when people at bharg marg said starting back in the spring and beyond, we don't have the stuff anymore, it's gone. it's the cover-up and the obstruction that i think will hurt people. >> elliot, do you agree? >> i do, and, again, obstruction of justice is one of the three crimes the justice department is looking into there. and, number one, what we -- just based on what is publicly reported not even what's under those redactions in the affidavit that was publicly released a few weeks ago, what's publicly available seems to indicate a pattern of obstruction by somebody at mar-a-lago, whether it was the president himself or somebody else. obstruction is frankly far more straightforward than some of the other statutes being bandied about here and i think it's certainly possible something gets charged. >> elliot, there is an order for
a special master to decide what the doj will be allowed to view as part of their investigation. must a special master view these documents to determine or can they just be listed as top secret and we know that those won't be something that will be included or allowed for some people to see? >> yeah, goodness, victor, what a mess that the judge has created with this special master ruling that has created a lot of legal problems starting with the very point you're asking, which is how do you even find a special master who, number one, either has or could very quickly get the kind of security clearance that they need to review these incredibly sensitive documents? number two, who would be seen as palatable to both parties here, because they have to agree or at least present a list of names and so there's a number of big legal questions here stemming from what do you even do with these documents so to answer
your question, victor, i don't know because the simple fact is this has never come up before and the judge really opened up a bit of a legal quagmire or mess by creating this decision that was wrong on many legal levels, set aside the politics of it whatever anyone thinks of donald trump, it's just this -- none of these questions had to be decided by a special master. the judge could have ruled on them or punted many of them to trial and let donald trump as a defendant move to exclude some of the evidence. so we're kind of in a mess here. it's a bit of a wild west and we'll just have to see what the parties do with it over the coming week. >> phil mudd, elliot williams, thank you for your expertise. >> thanks. president biden says the u.s. is moving towards annual shots against coronavirus. we'll find out exactly what you need to know when we talk to the white house covid-19 response coordinator. s of data points like hrv and rem sleep, so you know all you need for recoveryry. and you are? i'm an investor...in invesco qqq,
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