On Sunday, senior Democrats, dismayed by a steady stream of startling discoveries, expressed criticism over how President Joe Biden handled classified material after leaving office as vice president and disappointment that the White House has not been more forthcoming with the public.
Lawmakers who might have anticipated questions focusing on the debt limit or Ukraine aid when they were booked last week for the Sunday news shows found themselves quizzed about the latest development over the weekend in the document drama that has put Biden’s presidency on the defensive. During a search Friday of Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, the FBI found additional documents with classified markings and took possession of some of his handwritten notes, the president’s lawyer said Saturday.
Biden should be “embarrassed by the situation,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, adding that the president had ceded the moral high ground on an issue that has already entangled former President Donald Trump. Special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland are investigating both cases.
“Well, of course. Let’s be honest about it. When the information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it because it’s not supposed to happen. … The elected official bears ultimate responsibility,” Durbin said.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Biden “should have a lot of regrets. … You just might as well say, ‘Listen, it’s irresponsible.’” The president told reporters on Thursday that he had “no regrets” over how and when the public learned about the documents and that there was “no there there.”
“It is outrageous that either occurred,” Durbin said. “But the reaction by the former president and the current president could not be in sharper contrast.”
Biden voluntarily allowed the FBI into his home on Friday, but the lack of a warrant did not dim the extraordinary nature of the search. It compounded the embarrassment to Biden that started earlier in January with the disclosure that the president’s lawyers had found a “small number” of classified records at a former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington shortly before the Nov. 8 elections.
The White House has disclosed that Biden’s team found classified documents and official records on four occasions in recent months — on Nov. 2 at the offices of the Penn Biden Center in Washington, and then in follow up searches on Dec. 20 in the garage of his Wilmington home and on Jan. 11 and 12 in his home library.
Will even more documents be found in locations tied to Biden?
The discoveries have become a political liability as Biden prepares to kick off his 2024 reelection bid, and they undercut his efforts to portray an image of propriety to the American public.
Manchin excoriated both men for their handling of sensitive security documents. “It’s just hard to believe that in the United States of America, we have a former president and a current president that are basically in the same situation,” he said. “How does this happen?”
At the same time, Democrats worried that Biden’s scandal has created an opening for newly empowered House Republicans.
“We have to worry, since this new group that has taken control of the House of Representatives has promised investigations, confrontations, impeachments and chaos, what is going to happen,” Durbin said.
The new chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, said he took Biden “at his word when the first set of documents were found. … But now this is gone from just simply being irresponsible to downright scary.”
Durbin appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Manchin was on CNN and NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Comer was interviewed on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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