Transcript: Rep. Daniel Goldman on “Face the Nation,” Jan. 15, 2023

The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. Daniel Goldman of New York that aired on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, on “Face the Nation.”

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Congressman Dan Goldman, former US attorney in New York, who served as the lead counsel for the Democrats in the first impeachment trial of former President Trump, so you may recognize him. Good morning to you, Congressman.

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, let’s start with the appointment of the Special Counsel. I know you were asked last week, and you said you did not think one was necessary. Given what we now know, and the developments, do you still think it was a mistake to appoint Hur as a special counsel?

REP. GOLDMAN: I don’t think it was a mistake. I don’t think any of us really have a good understanding of what information the Attorney General had when he decided to appoint Mr. Hur as the Special Counsel. But I do think it goes to a really important fact that is being missed here, which is that this administration is doing things by the book, there is a divide and a separation between the Department of Justice and the White House that certainly did not exist in the last administration. And President Biden and his team have reached out to the archives, they’ve reached out to the Department of Justice, they have done everything they can to cooperate. And that’s in direct contrast to what former President Trump has done, where he has obstructed justice at every turn.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, doing things by the book now, but obviously, in the handling of classified material, not by the book, because the regulations are pretty clear there. Can you explain to me, for the search that we just laid out that was happening at the president’s home for- the current president – his Wilmington home on Thursday? Why would he send lawyers who don’t have a security clearance to search for classified material?

REP. GOLDMAN: I’m not sure, and we don’t know the circumstances of that. But certainly, the documents leave the Vice President’s office and have to be stored somewhere. I do hope we will find out more information about it. But as you see from the White House, a statement from the personal attorney, Bob Bauer statement, they are doing everything by the book, they take this classified information, being where it should not be. And we all acknowledge it should not be there, they take it very seriously. And they are abiding by the laws, they have reached out and been as cooperative as possible. And that’s part of the reason why they can’t speak is that they would be potentially interfering with an ongoing investigation, which once again, this administration takes very seriously.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So can you explain on Thursday, why a White House attorney, someone who’s paid by US taxpayers was the one with the security clearance who got in the car and drove down to Delaware to then pick up where those lawyers who didn’t have security clearance left off, and then found the five classified documents? Why is it appropriate for a White House lawyer to be involved in this personal matter?

REP. GOLDMAN: Well, because it involves classified information which belongs to the government. And this White House lawyer, Mr. Sauber has security clearance. So the personal attorneys once they found a classified document –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does that seem appropriate to you? 

REP. GOLDMAN: to have to put it down stop. And then the White House Counsel, yes, of course, that’s appropriate. When you have matters of national security, you need to make sure that those who have clearance to review them are reviewing them. And once again, we’re focusing on a lot of the nitty gritty details here. The bigger picture is broad cooperation from the president who clearly takes this very seriously. And that- that should be really underscored here. As well as the importance of an independence of the Department of Justice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You had an op-ed last year, about the 45th President and the issues with classified material, and you laid out four factors you said prosecutors need to look at: intend to distribute, clear knowledge of importance, volume of the material, and whether or not investigators had been lied to, is that the set of criteria you also think President Biden needs to be judged on?

REP. GOLDMAN: It absolutely is. And I think if you go through those criteria, and each one, they do not apply, we don’t have any indication that President Biden knew about them. He certainly has demonstrated no intent to deceive or obstruct the government by keeping them. And that’s in direct contrast to President Trump, who refused to cooperate, who refused to comply with a subpoena, and who ultimately forced the Department of Justice to execute a search warrant to retrieve the classified documents. When you look at this very clearly, and you compare them there is no comparison. Those four factors, I believe, apply to President Trump and none of them apply to President Biden. And that is where we need to be centering this conversation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about your first week in Congress. One of the things you did was hand deliver this ethics complaint to your fellow New Yorker, Republican George Santos. He’s under local, state, federal and international investigation. You need a simple majority to-to move ahead with any kind of ethics action. Do you have any Republicans supporting what you’re trying to do here?

REP. GOLDMAN: Well, the Speaker of the House indicated that the- he would support an ethics investigation. And in fact this morning, Congressman Torres and I sent a letter to Speaker McCarthy, Chairwoman Stefanik and the head of the Congressional Leadership Fund, Kevin McCarthy’s camp super PAC arm, because there’s really, really bombshell indication and reporting from the New York Times that they all knew about Mr. Santos’ lies prior to the election. And as part of this investigation, we are calling on them to be fully cooperative with the investigators, both in Congress and outside of Congress to disclose exactly what they knew about Mr. Santos’ lies, and whether they were complicit in this scheme to defraud voters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you know, for folks at home who aren’t following this a great degree of detail. They hear Kevin McCarthy say things like- the Speaker McCarthy, you say things like Well, other people have also said things that aren’t true and they work in Congress. They look at the fact that Senator Menendez of New Jersey has said he knows of an ongoing federal probe that involves him, a number of Democrats have failed to disclose stock trades, other things like that. Why is this case different? And how is this not just politics? Can you explain it?

REP. GOLDMAN: George- Sure. George Santos is a complete and total fraud. Everything that he said about himself on the campaign trail, nearly everything has proven to be a lie. His financial disclosures are — have clear false statements and omissions. And that’s what we refer to the Ethics Committee for an investigation to get to the bottom of whether he broke the law. Eight Republican Congress members have called on him to resign. This is not like any of the other examples you’re talking about. This is a scheme to defraud the voters of the third district in New York, and this needs to be investigated intensively. And Mr. Santos needs to think twice about whether he belongs in Congress. And more importantly, the Speaker needs to think twice about whether Mr. Santos is fit to serve in Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be tracking that story. Thank you very much, Congressman.

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