Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, conceded Sunday that it’s possible national security was jeopardized after President Joe Biden’s lawyers confirmed classified documents were found—now the center of the Justice Department special counsel investigation.
When asked about a potential national security risk during a Sunday interview on ABC News, Schiff responded: “I don’t think we can exclude the possibility without knowing more of the facts.” He added, “I’d like to know what these documents were … I’d like to know what the [special counsel’s] assessment is.”
Another tranche of classified materials was discovered in Biden’s possession over the weekend. They were found in several instances, with a White House lawyer confirming five pages were found at his home in Delaware.
Days before, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he would appoint a special counsel, former U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert Hur, to lead the investigation. It came after classified documents were found at the president’s office and another batch found at his Delaware home.
“This appointment underscores for the public the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law,” Garland said Thursday.
On Sunday, Schiff stated that Garland’s decision to appoint a special counsel was the right one. Just months before, Garland also appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to investigate matters relating to former President Donald Trump, as some legal experts have speculated that the recent disclosures of classified documents in Biden’s possession undermines similar Justice Department’s probes into Trump.
“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.”
Schiff, along with other Democrats, asserted that Biden’s and Trump’s cases are different because Biden, he said, is cooperating. It’s worth noting, however, that the National Archives had confirmed last year that Trump’s lawyers were cooperating with the agency before the FBI raided his Florida residence in August.
“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. “There was no effort to hold onto them, no effort to conceal them, no effort to obstruct the Justice Department’s investigation.”
Before Republicans took a majority in the House, Schiff had chaired the powerful House Intelligence Committee and often publicly sparred with Trump and other Republicans, who accused Schiff of fabricating information and leaking to the press. This month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) confirmed that he would kick Schiff and fellow California Democrat Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence panel.
Schiff’s comments come amid multiple announcements from House Republicans about investigations into the Biden classified documents case.
“We first learned about the Penn Biden Center classified documents months after they were found in an unsecure closet,” House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) wrote in a recent statement. “Then it took the White House weeks to inform the public about the documents found in President Biden’s Wilmington garage.”
“Now that Democrats no longer have one-party rule in Washington, oversight and accountability are coming,” Comer said in a separate letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking her to provide his panel with suspicious activity reports linked to the Biden family. “The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating President Biden’s involvement in his family’s foreign business practices and international influence peddling schemes.”
Another House Democrat, meanwhile, warned the Biden documents case could turn into a “political football” during a Sunday media interview.
“We don’t want to turn this into just a political football,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House Judiciary panel who also sat on the controversial Jan. 6 select committee, told CNN.
Like Schiff, Raskin asserted that Trump and Biden reacted differently.
“That is a very different posture than what we saw with Donald Trump, where he was fighting for a period of more than eight months to not turn over hundreds of missing documents that the Archives was asking about. He defied a government subpoena, and they ended up having to go to court to get a court issued subpoena to go and search Mar-a-Lago. So that’s just a completely different posture,” Raskin added.