Republicans have a lot of questions about the classified documents found in President Biden's former office at a Washington think tank—and a big one is why the find wasn't disclosed sooner. The documents were found in a locked closet by Biden's lawyers on Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections, and the White House Counsel’s Office declined to say Tuesday why it took so long to make the find public, CNBC reports. Former President Donald Trump, who is being investigated over classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate, suggested that the information was withheld for political reasons. Biden ignored shouted questions about the documents at a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mexico Tuesday, reports the AP.
Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office, said a Department of Justice review is underway "so we are going to be limited in what we can say at this time," but more details will be provided "when and as appropriate." Rep. Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, asked Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines for a "damage assessment" Tuesday, saying Biden had been in "potential violation of laws protecting national security." Sources tell NBC that there were fewer than a dozen documents with classified markings found at the Penn Biden Center, where Biden had an office after his term as vice president ended.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the committee should be briefed on the find. "Our system of classification exists in order to protect our most important national security secrets, and we expect to be briefed on what happened both at Mar-a-Lago and at the Biden office as part of our constitutional oversight obligations," Warner said. Analysts say the find is a big embarrassment for Biden, though Politico reports that Democrats defending the president say it appears that the matter being handled appropriately. Some accused Republicans of hypocrisy, noting that the same lawmakers pushing for investigations shrugged off the find of a much larger number of documents at Trump's residence. "One person handled it right, the other person handled it wrong," said Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin.
(More President Biden