House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer on Sunday criticized President Joe Biden and his team for their handling of classified documents, announcing on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ that he was seeking additional information on the situation.
“We never would have known about the possession of the classified documents had it not been for the CBS investigative reporting that somehow got leaked to determine that it happened before the election,” the Kentucky Republican told Jake Tapper from CNN. “So the administration hasn’t been transparent about what’s going on with President Biden’s possession of classified documents. And we just want equal treatment here in terms of how the former president (Donald) Trump and current President Biden are dealt with the issue of documents.
In a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Comer requests more documents and communications related to searches of Biden’s homes and other locations by the president’s aides for classified documents, as well as the newspaper of visitors to the President Wilmington, Delaware, home from January 20, 2021 to present.
The letter comes after Biden’s aides found five additional pages of classified documents at his personal residence in Wilmington on Thursday, the same day a special counsel was appointed to investigate the case. The White House revealed the discovery on Saturday.
“It is troubling that classified documents have been improperly stored at President Biden’s home for at least six years, raising questions about who may have viewed or had access to classified information,” Comer wrote in the letter. . “As chief of staff, you head the president’s executive office and have a responsibility to be transparent with the American people on these important matters relating to the White House’s handling of this matter.”
Tapper asked Comer on Sunday if he cared more about the mishandling of classified documents when it comes to Democrats — a reference to the GOP’s response to Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago residence was searched by the FBI last summer after repeated attempts to retrieve classified documents. documents.
“Absolutely not,” Comer replied. “Look, we still don’t know what kind of documents President Trump had.”
“My concern is how there is such a difference in how former President Trump was treated raiding Mar-a-Lago, getting the security cameras, taking pictures of documents on the floor. … It’s not equal treatment, and we’re very concerned and there’s a lack of trust here in the Justice Department by House Republicans. It’s outrage.
A separate special counsel is leading multiple investigations into Trump’s actions, ranging from his efforts to nullify the 2020 election to his handling of classified data and the obstruction that led the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago.
Asked by Tapper on Sunday if he was accusing Biden or anyone on his team of breaking the law, Comer said, “We don’t know exactly whether they broke the law yet or not.”
“I will accuse the Biden administration of not being transparent. Why didn’t we hear about it on November 2, when the first batch of classified documents was discovered?” he added. “Joe Biden used as an argument closing remarks in the midterm elections that Republicans were a threat to democracy, and he cited President Trump’s mishandling of the documents.
In September, Biden told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that Trump’s handling of the documents was “totally irresponsible.”
Responding to a question about an image of classified documents spread across the floor of Mar-a-Lago, Biden said his reaction was, “How could this happen. How could a–anybody be so irresponsible.
In a separate “State of the Union” interview Sunday, Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, Comer’s Democratic counterpart on the House Oversight Committee, was asked about the president’s remarks.
Raskin told Tapper that “every American has a stake in classified documents being properly handled by the President and by any administration.”
He echoed Comer’s calls for “equal treatment,” but argued that the White House’s handling of Biden’s discovery of classified documents represented “a very different posture than what we’ve seen with Donald. Trump”.
“It’s a bit disturbing to me that people who say there was no problem with what Donald Trump did, which was to defiantly reject any cooperation in handing over hundreds of classified documents, are upset. by President Biden’s willful and quick rotation of a handful of documents they found,” he said.
“I think it’s good that this is in the hands of special advocates on both sides and that the special advocates are both trustworthy lawyers who I think will get to the bottom of it,” Raskin said.
CNN previously reported that classified documents found in Biden’s private office included top secret files with the designation “compartmentalized sensitive information,” which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources. Those documents included US intelligence memos and briefing documents covering topics including Ukraine, Iran and the UK, according to a source familiar with the matter.
On Saturday, Biden’s personal attorney sought to explain why he and other members of the president’s team had not been fully forthcoming about discoveries of classified documents or records.
“The President’s personal attorneys have attempted to balance the importance of public transparency, where appropriate, with established standards and limitations necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Bob Bauer said in a statement. “These considerations necessitate avoiding public disclosure of details relevant to the investigation while it is ongoing.”
This story and title have been updated.