WASHINGTON – Republicans said Sunday the White House needs to provide more information about President Joe Biden’s handling of classified information, as Biden allies said the GOP is trying to use the case to undercut an investigation of Donald Trump and top secret material.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he wants to know who might have had access to classified documents that the former vice president had in his personal possession. Republicans also want to know how secret documents made their way to Biden’s office and Delaware residence in the first place.
“We have a lot of questions,” Comer told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
In a Sunday letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain seeking more information, Comer wrote that Biden’s “mishandling of classified materials raises the issue of whether he has jeopardized our national security.”
Democrats said the president and his attorneys turned over classified documents as soon as they were discovered, a marked contrast with how Trump handled sensitive records that should have been sent to the National Archives.
“We should keep a sense of proportion and measure about what we’re talking about,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a top Democrat on the Oversight committee, also speaking on CNN.
Biden pledges cooperation with special counsel
Attorney General Merrick Garland, seeking to avoid a conflict of interest, appointed a special counsel to review Biden’s handling of classified material.
In a series of statements over the past week announcing discoveries of new classified documents, the White House has said they have turned over the documents and are cooperating with government authorities.
It has not responded to House Republican demands for more information.
“The White House will cooperate with the newly-appointed Special Counsel,” said a written statement Saturday by Richard Sauber, a special counsel with the Biden administration.
Republican House investigations take shape
During last year’s congressional elections, Republicans frequently threatened to investigate Biden if they won a House majority. Their proposed probes range from the 2021 withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan to the international business dealings of the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
The prospect of a documents investigation bubbled up last week when the White House made a series of announcements that officials had discovered classified documents among the records stored at a Biden office at a University of Pennsylvania facility in Washington, D.C., and his residence in Wilmington, Delaware, including his garage.
Congressional Democrats said they do not want a House investigation to affect the special counsel probe.
Trump and classified documents
Legal analysts have pointed to a key difference in the document cases involving Trump and Biden: Trump is also being investigated for obstruction of justice,
The former president repeatedly refused to turn over documents when requested by the National Archives. That led to the highly publicized August search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump and his allies said the former president is being held to a different standard. In a Truth Social post, Trump criticized Biden over the issue but also said that “I did NOTHING wrong.”
Democrats have said Trump also risked national security with his handling of classified information.
In his CNN appearance, Comer did not accuse Biden of breaking the law – “well, we don’t know exactly yet” – and said he is less concerned about the Biden documents than about the appearance of unfairness to Trump.
“It seems political here,” Comer said. “It seems hypocritical. It seems like a double standard.”
The White House pointed to Comer’s statement to question the motives of the House Republican investigation. “I would simply refer you to what Congressman Comer himself told CNN this morning: ‘At the end of the day, my biggest concern isn’t the classified documents to be honest with you,’” said White House spokesman Ian Sams. “That says it all.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who played major roles in many investigations of Trump, said the Republicans are the hypocrites, hyping the Biden probe while downplaying Trump’s actions with respect to classified information.
“I think Congress ought to handle both situations the same way,” Schiff said.