January 28, 2023
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Discovery of classified documents at Biden’s home fuels GOP plans for investigations

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The news of the discovery of additional classified documents at President Biden’s home gave new ammunition to Republicans who have already vowed to launch investigations not only into his administration but also into ongoing federal probes, which Democrats warn could be a dangerous new level of partisan meddling in highly sensitive legal matters.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, demanded in a letter dated Sunday that the White House provide by Jan. 30 a list of people who visited Biden’s Wilmington home, as well as documents and “communications related to the searches” of Biden’s home.

Comer told CNN’s “State of the Union” that his committee also wanted to know who had access to the Penn Biden Center, which is in Washington near the U.S. Capitol.

Comer said his committee was also proceeding with an investigation of what he called “Biden family influence peddling,” to include sources of foreign donations and financial support he claimed, without offering any evidence, had come to the Bidens.

Pressed on why the committee was apparently not focusing on allegations of foreign influence against Donald Trump, Comer said: “I think the influence peddling with respect to the Trump administration will be a part of our overall investigation because both Democrats and Republicans have complained about this with the previous two administrations.”

But Comer seemed to tamp down expectations that the Republican-controlled oversight panel would extensively investigate the previous administration.

“There have been so many investigations of President Trump,” Comer said. “I don’t feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump because the Democrats have done that for the past six years.”

More classified documents found at Biden’s Wilmington home

The latest in the slow drip of news of classified documents in Biden’s possession came Saturday, when the White House disclosed that another set of classified government material was found in Biden’s Wilmington home. The document discoveries are now the subject of a Justice Department special counsel investigation. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special prosecutor, as he did earlier with Trump.

There are substantial differences between the two cases, including Trump’s repeated refusal to hand over documents that federal officials said they were seeking, compared with Biden’s voluntary return of paperwork.

Analysis: Biden, Trump cases aren’t alike

Republicans have largely ignored those distinctions. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said there was a “double standard” in the two cases.

Jordan also falsely implied that Trump was denied the chance to voluntarily hand over classified documents he kept in his possession. “Why is it always the left, the Democrats, they get to decide, they get to go find the information and hand it over to the government?” he said on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Sunday the federal government’s reaction to Biden, and how it treated Trump this summer when documents were retrieved after a court-ordered search of his Florida residence, is “a prime example” of why House Republicans this month created the Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

McCarthy, who narrowly won the speakership with Trump’s endorsement, said on “Sunday Morning Futures” that the federal government has been going “after people because they have different political beliefs.” Republicans said their new committee could examine, among other things, whether the government played a role in targeting conservatives on social media and at school board meetings.

Biden, Trump and classified documents: An explainer

But some Republicans took a more nuanced view on the two cases.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” he doubts that the classified documents found in Biden’s case were highly sensitive. But he added that Biden should have been aware that there were classified documents in his possession.

“Every single page has a classification marking on it,” Stewart said. “This isn’t the kind of thing that you just sit on your desk and you think, ‘Oh, I forgot that they’re classified.’ It’s very clear that they’re classified.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) acknowledged the differences between the Trump and Biden investigations, but he said Biden was hypocritical when he criticized Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. “And it just reminds me of that old adage: If you live in a glass house, do not throw stones,” Bacon said. “And I think President Biden was caught throwing stones.”

Democrats sought to highlight the differences between Biden’s and Trump’s actions, while acknowledging Biden’s case is embarrassing.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) suggested that lawmakers need more information about whether Biden’s documents had any national security sensitivities.

“I don’t think we can exclude the possibility without knowing more of the facts,” Schiff told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that “the administration will need to answer” why it discovered documents in November but did not announce it until January.

Schiff, who chaired the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats controlled the chamber, said Republicans should not take actions that would undermine the Justice Department investigations.

“Congress ought to handle both situations the same way, and that is, we ought to get a briefing from the intelligence community about any potential risk to national security of where those documents were and what they contained,” Schiff said. “But Congress shouldn’t try to interfere with the investigations.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “it’s a bit disturbing” that people who had “no problem with what Donald Trump did, which was to defiantly reject any cooperation,” are now “upset about President Biden’s voluntary and rapid turnover of a handful of documents that they found.”

The Biden documents scandal is a test for the media — and an opportunity

In response to the discovery of the Biden documents, the House Intelligence Committee requested that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence review the documents and conduct a damage assessment — a customary process to determine if the exposure of classified information could damage sensitive intelligence sources and methods.

Separately, that office has already begun a review of the documents found at Mar-a-Lago but has offered no public comment on when, or if, officials will review the documents found at Biden’s think tank and his home.

“We have requested an analysis of these documents, the potential harm that they may have caused, and I expect that we’ll receive that within the next few weeks,” Stewart said.



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