A number of prominent Democrats voiced their support over the weekend for Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate President Biden’s handling of classified documents.
Lawmakers including Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) said in TV appearances that they supported the appointment of Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney who was given the assignment on Thursday.
“Classified documents are to be taken seriously and they are to be handled with a great deal of care and no one is above the law,” Warnock said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “So I’m glad to see the Justice Department doing its work, and we ought to let that work proceed.”
But the lawmakers were quick to recall the classified documents that were found in former President Trump’s possession, placing his conduct and lack of cooperation with law enforcement in contrast to Biden’s handling of the scandal.
“The Biden approach was very different in the sense that it looks that it was inadvertent that these documents were at these locations,” Schiff said in an interview also with “This Week” on Sunday. “There was no effort to hold on to them, no effort to conceal them, no effort to obstruct the Justice Department’s investigation.”
Yet Schiff said he thinks the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the Biden documents was the right move.
“The attorney general has to make sure that not only is justice evenly applied, but the appearances of justice are also satisfactory to the public,” Schiff said. “And here, I don’t think he had any choice but to appoint a special counsel.”
Republicans have jumped on the news of Biden’s classified documents, calling Democrats hypocrites after they spent months decrying Trump’s handling of classified information.
However, the scandal has also put GOP lawmakers in an awkward spot after they largely downplayed Trump’s handling of classified documents. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) is calling for a visitor log of Biden’s Delaware residence as his committee ramps up its probe into Biden’s records, but has not made a similar request regarding Trump’s Florida home.
Omar, a progressive who has not shied away from criticizing Biden, pointed the finger back at Republicans, arguing they had no ground to pounce on Biden’s document saga.
“What I find interesting is that Republicans who have defended Trump after he literally stole classified documents, refused to turn them over, lied about having them, made up some story about how he declassified them, had to have his house raided in order for those documents to be found, are now only interested in investigating Biden, who has cooperated, whose own staff and former staff have themselves turned these documents in,” Omar said to MSNBC’s Symone Sanders-Townsend on Saturday.
Even then, Omar said she was “glad that there is a special prosecutor that’s been appointed to investigate this.”
Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) called the discovery of Biden’s documents “an embarrassment” on Sunday, and expressed his support for Hur’s appointment.
“Is there more to it? I doubt it,” Garamendi said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But we’ll find out from the special counsel as he goes about his business.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) also praised the DOJ’s decision to appoint a special counsel to the Biden case, saying he hopes the investigation keeps “sense of symmetry about our analysis of these situations.”
When the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in August, many GOP lawmakers decried what they viewed as government overreach and political harassment.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), then the House minority leader, tweeted that the “Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization.”
McCarthy in recent days has suggested Biden knew about the documents, and accused the White House of holding back information ahead of the midterms.
“He knowingly knew this happened going into [the] election, going into interviews. This is what makes America not trust their government,” McCarthy said.
“You cannot have one form of law because somebody philosophically has a different opinion than you. And you can’t use the Justice Department to go after people that are politically different, as well. It has to be equal across.”
Updated: 5:02 p.m.