Republican lawmakers on Sunday accused authorities of “hypocrisy” when it came to the handling of classified documents by President Biden and former President Trump after leaving office.
While some lawmakers acknowledged there was enough blame to go around on both sides of the matter, others who took to the Sunday political show circuit withheld criticism of either man if they belonged to the same political party.
“Joe Biden used as his closing argument during the midterm elections that Republicans were a threat to democracy. And he cited the fact that President Trump mishandled the documents. While he was doing this, he knew very well that he himself had possession of classified documents,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) the newly appointed chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“So the hypocrisy here is great. We’re very concerned about a lack of transparency. We’re very concerned, as I have said many times, about a two-tiered system of justice in America. And we just want equal treatment. And, hopefully, we will get some answers very soon,” he added.
When anchor Jake Tapper asked Comer if he only cares about the handling of documents at the hands of Democrats and not Republicans, the Kentucky Republican said: “At the end of the day, my biggest concern isn’t the declassified documents, to be honest with you. My concern is how there’s such a discrepancy in how former President Trump was treated by raiding Mar-a-Lago, by getting the security cameras, by taking pictures of documents on the floor, by going through Melania’s closet, vs. Joe Biden.”
When Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was asked by “Sunday Monday Futures” host Maria Bartiromo for his take on the matter, he said: “Well, it just shows the hypocrisy and why the American public does not trust their government.”
“What’s real concerning to me is how justice is applied, and is it applied equally? Why do you raid President Trump?” McCarthy asked, defending the former president by suggesting the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago were “padlocked” despite federal investigators who said classified documents were found in unsecured locations.
“Now we’re finding time and again a locked garage door that opens and closes by a push of the button. How many years has this vice president, who has been in office for more than 40 years, had these documents? Who’s been in and out of there?” McCarthy said in criticizing the Biden case. “So they apply a special counsel. But how many agents do they apply to that and apply to President Trump as well? This is just hypocrisy.”
Democrats, meanwhile, pointed out differences in each matter, highlighting the volume of materials in Trump’s case that number in hundreds of documents along with Trump’s attempts to keep the documents from being handed over to the National Archives while the White House says Biden’s team immediately contacted the agency when the discoveries were made at a former Washington, D.C., office of his as well as his residence near Wilmington, Del.
“There are some people who are trying to compare having a government document that should no longer be in your possession to inciting a violent insurrection against the government of the United States. And those are obviously completely different things,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. “That’s apples and oranges. So, we should keep a sense of proportion and measure about what we’re talking about.”
The White House has increasingly come under fire after reports emerged last week that classified documents dating back to Biden’s time as vice president were discovered starting on Nov. 2, just six days before crucial midterm elections in which Biden’s political clout was on the line.
The matter was not helped on Saturday when Biden’s counsel said five more documents were found at the president’s residence after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that searches of the president’s home were “complete.”
Some Democrats acknowledged on Sunday that Biden casting Republicans as threats to democracy leading into the November elections was a bad look.
“Well, it’s certainly embarrassing,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” but added that Biden’s team appeared to be cooperating with authorities.
“They don’t think it’s the right thing and they’ve been moving to correct it, working with the Department of Justice, working with everyone involved, with the archives. So, from my perspective, it’s one of those moments that, obviously, they wish hadn’t happened,” Stabenow, who announced earlier this month that she would not seek reelection, said.
Rep. Don Bacon (D-Neb.), meanwhile, said there was enough blame to be shared by both sides.
“I think if you’re an honest statesman, you just can’t point fingers to the other guy and deny that there was problems on our side as well,” Bacon said.
And Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said appointing a special counsel in both the Biden and Trump matters was appropriate, adding that he would like to see Congress conduct an assessment of the classified documents found to be at the Biden locations.
“I still would like to see Congress do its own assessment of — and receive an assessment from the intelligence community of whether there was an exposure to others of these documents, whether there was harm to national security, on the case of either set of documents with either president,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
House Republicans have repeatedly defended Trump and been overly critical of the FBI search in August 2022 of his Mar-a-Lago property but have not called for congressional oversight on the case, which is being investigated as a potential violation of the Espionage Act, according to the Justice Department.
Comer on Sunday vowed to investigate the circumstances of the document discoveries but only when it came to Biden, sidestepping questions on whether he considered that to be hypocritical.
Less than one week after CBS News broke the news of an initial discovery of documents in a former office of Biden’s, Comer on Sunday sent a letter to White House chief of staff Ron Klain asking for a visitor log for Biden’s Wilmington residence. His panel is also conducting investigations involving President Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his business dealings years ago.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) took the opportunity on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” to criticize the FBI, suggesting that the appointments of special counsels by the Justice Department in both the Biden and Trump cases would impact the 2024 presidential elections, drawing similarities to investigations into election interference in 2016 and stories focused on Hunter Biden in 2020 that he said were “suppressed.”
“Maybe the FBI should just stay out of things, and let the American people decide who we want representing us in Congress and who we want as commander in chief, and not weigh in on all these various elections,” Jordan said.