Rep. James Comer (R-KY) seemed unaware Sunday of the differences between the investigations into former President Donald Trump and then-Vice President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, repeatedly using a TV appearance to cite information that even had the anchor seemingly confused.
The newly minted chair of the House Oversight Committee appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, telling host Jake Tapper that he wanted more information on who had access to documents found at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and a personal office at Biden’s former D.C. think-tank.
“My concern is that a special counsel was called for, but yet hours after that we still had the president’s personal attorneys, who have no security clearance, still rummaging around the president’s residence looking for things,” Comer said. “That would essentially be a crime scene, so to speak, after the appointment of a special counsel. So we have a lot of questions for the National Archives, we have a lot of questions for the Department of Justice, and hopefully we’ll be getting answers very soon.”
Comer’s first assertion was not grounded in fact. White House lawyer Richard Sauber, who does hold a security clearance, said Saturday that he discovered five documents marked as classified while accompanying department officials in a search of the home on Thursday. Sauber’s presence there instead of personal lawyers for Biden was not noted by Comer, a fact that would negate the political hit he sought to make.
Comer insisted he couldn’t say whether Biden or members of his team broke the law, noting those assessments couldn’t be made without an investigation. But he did claim Biden engaged in hypocrisy over his criticism of Trump’s mishandling of documents—though he refused to note the differences that led to Trump’s special counsel appointment, a line Tapper pressed him on.
“There’s a big difference in how President Biden and his team reacted and how President Trump and his team reacted. The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago because Trump, for more than a year, refused to turn over documents to the National Archives and the Justice Department which was trying to get them back into secure hands,” Tapper said. “Trump and his lawyers lied about it. Trump lied about not having classified documents.”
That seemed to leave Comer flummoxed, and he claimed that he believed Trump was working with the National Archives to turn over documents, and the dispute was merely over whether the documents were classified or not. A search warrant revealed the Justice Department was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice and violations of the Espionage Act.
“As we heard the president say before, the president has the authority to declassify documents. The question is whether or not the president actually declassified the documents. The vice president does not have the authority to declassify—”
But Comer was cut off by Tapper, who rightly said the vice president did hold the power to declassify documents. That was instated by a 2009 executive order signed by President Barack Obama, which included the vice president among those with “original classification authority.” Those with that designation, according to the order, could start the declassification process.
Nevertheless, Comer tried to tie the episode to potential links between Biden and China.
After vowing that his committee would investigate Biden’s family’s ties to China, Comer strangely claimed that the University of Pennsylvania funneled millions it received from Chinese sources through the Biden Penn Center think-tank. This was yet another example of how Biden and his family were compromised, he claimed. (The University of Pennsylvania told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that the Biden Penn Center was funded solely by the university and received no gifts from foreign entities.)
“What the American people are going to see from our investigation is a pattern of anonymous donations going to Hunter’s business deals, to the Biden Center, to the artwork hunter sold at the art gallery in New York,” Comer said. “There’s a pattern here of anonymous sources of money flowing into the Bidens’ pockets and Biden’s interest and it’s very concerning. This is a national security risk.”
The link left even Tapper confused, and only solidified a posture Republicans have leaped to in the aftermath of document revelations: investigate Biden with full force and at all costs.