Even as one Republican acknowledged distinctions Sunday between Biden’s handling of documents and former President Donald Trump’s, most reactions broke among party lines.
“Granted they’re different,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said on ABC’s “This Week.” “What strikes me, though, is having President Biden be highly critical of President Trump, calling him irresponsible.”
Bacon was referencing a September “60 Minutes” interview, in which CBS’ Scott Pelley asked Biden about the discovery of classified materials at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago; at the time, Biden questioned “how that could possibly happen” — a statement Republicans have repeatedly highlighted in the past week.
Apart from Bacon, however, reactions to the revelations of sensitive documents discovered in private, Biden-associated places this week depended mostly on party affiliation. Both sides cried of unfair standards.
“My concern is how there’s such a discrepancy in how President Trump was treated,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the new chair of the House Oversight Committee, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Both Comer and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the same committee, called verbatim for “equal treatment” in appearances Sunday on CNN.
Comer sent a letter Sunday to White House chief of staff Ron Klain requesting more information related to the searches for documents and a visitor log of Biden’s Delaware home.
“We want to know the visitor logs to the residence,” he said. “We want to know who had access to the Biden Center for Diplomacy, because this is the same type of investigation that the Democrats were so outraged and launched and demanded happened to President Trump.”
Comer has not announced any similar call for visitor logs of Mar-a-Lago.
“No one’s been investigated more than Donald Trump. Who hasn’t been investigated is Joe Biden,” said Comer, who has spoken publicly about a wish list of House investigations against Biden and his associates.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) used harsher rhetoric on “Fox News Sunday”: “I think Biden has highlighted his incompetence for the world to see,” Gonzales said.
But Raskin and other Democrats argued that there are significant differences between the document situations with Trump and Biden that should be handled accordingly, as Biden allies have said repeatedly in recent days.
“We should keep a sense of proportion and measure,” Raskin told host Jake Tapper.
Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) on CBS’ “Face the Nation” urged host Margaret Brennan to look at the big picture: “Broad cooperation from the president who clearly takes this very seriously,” he said.
Biden has had a smaller volume of out-of-place sensitive documents discovered than Trump, and unlike Trump, he appears to have cooperated with authorities in turning over the materials.
“It’s an embarrassment, no doubt about it. Is there more to it? I doubt it,” Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), a member of the progressive caucus, said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on NBC’s “Meet the Press” agreed the revelations were “embarrassing,” while maintaining it was “totally different” than Trump’s situation.
“Both serious in terms of having classified documents, but the president is doing the right thing,” Stabenow said.
Republicans have said it is too early to tell the true extent of what occurred.
Both Raskin and Comer pointed to a need to figure out procedures regarding former officials taking documents in the future.
Rod Rosenstein, a deputy attorney general during the Trump administration, said Attorney General Merrick Garland “really had no choice” in appointing a special counsel to investigate Biden, after naming one to investigate Trump.
The special counsels appointed to investigate Trump and Biden — Jack Smith and Robert Hur, respectively — have “sterling reputations,” Rosenstein said.
“But you’re in the political arena, where it’s inevitable you’re going to be attacked,” Rosenstein said, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, agreed with the attorney general’s decision to appoint a special counsel, he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Schiff said he couldn’t “exclude the possibility” that national security might have been compromised in Biden’s documents “without knowing more of the facts”; however, he accused Comer of attempting to interfere with the Justice Department’s investigation.
Biden aides found five additional documents in this president’s Delaware home this week, the White House announced Saturday. They were then turned over to the Justice Department, which had appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter.
Earlier last week, a lawyer for Biden confirmed that personal lawyers to the president in November discovered Obama administration documents in a Biden-associated Washington think tank. Days later, Biden’s legal team found additional documents in Biden’s residence in Wilmington, Del., one of Biden’s lawyers announced.
For his part, Bacon said the discovery of classified documents in Biden’s possession called to mind an old saying.
“If you live in a glass house, do not throw stones,” he said. “And I think that President Biden was caught throwing stones.”