Rep. James Comer (R-KY) appeared unaware on Sunday of the discrepancies between the investigations into former President Donald Trump’s and then-Vice President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, repeatedly using a TV appearance to quote information which seemingly confused even the anchor.
The newly minted chairman of the House Oversight Committee appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, telling host Jake Tapper he wanted more information about who had access to documents found at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and a personal office at Biden’s former DC think tank.
“My concern is that special counsel was called in, but hours after that, we still had the president’s personal attorneys, who didn’t have security clearance, still prowling 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 Ministry of Justice and hopefully we will get an answer soon.”
Comer’s first claim was factually unfounded. White House attorney Richard Sauber, who does have security clearance, said Saturday he discovered five documents marked as classified while accompanying department officials during a search on Thursday. Sauber’s presence there rather than personal lawyers for Biden went unnoticed by Comer, a fact that would nullify the political hit he was trying to make.
Comer insisted he could not say whether Biden or members of his team broke the law, noting that those assessments could not be made without an investigation. But he did allege that Biden was guilty of hypocrisy over his criticism of Trump’s mishandling of documents — though he refused to point out the differences that led to Trump’s appointment as special counsel, a rule Tapper pressed him for .
“There is a big difference in how President Biden and his team responded and how President Trump and his team responded. The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago because Trump refused for more than a year to turn over documents to the National Archives and the Justice Department, who tried to get them back into safe hands,” Tapper said. “Trump and his lawyers lied about it. Trump lied about not having classified documents.”
That seemed to leave Comer stunned, claiming that he believed Trump was collaborating with the National Archives to turn over documents, and the dispute was only about whether or not the documents were classified. A search warrant found that the Justice Department was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice and espionage law violations.
“As we heard the president say earlier, the president has the authority to release documents. The question is whether the president actually released the documents. The vice president has no authority to declassify…”
But Comer was cut off by Tapper, who rightly said that the vice president had the authority to release documents. That was established by a 2009 executive order signed by President Barack Obama, placing 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 link the episode to possible ties between Biden and China.
After Comer vowed that his committee would investigate Biden’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 grants from foreign entities.)
“What the American people will see from our research is a pattern of anonymous donations going to Hunter’s business deals, to the Biden Center, to the art hunter being sold at the New York art gallery,” Comer said. “There is a pattern here of anonymous sources of money flowing into the Bidens’ pockets and into Biden’s interest and that is deeply concerning. This is a national security risk.”
The link confused even Tapper, and only solidified a stance Republicans have jumped to in the wake of document disclosures: investigate Biden with all your might and at all costs.