A number of Republican politicians who tried to dismiss the discovery of classified materials during an FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago are now claiming to be outraged by a similar situation that has arisen with the discovery of classified materials by Joe Biden’s attorneys at a DC think tank.
It’s a sudden change of heart that reveals the very political side of Washington politicians’ response to allegations of mismanagement by one of their own.
The responses from the GOP in the wake of Mr Biden’s attorneys turning over the documents have ranged from accusations of double standards to full-on howls of “treason” from supporters of former President Donald Trump, who unlike Mr Biden fought for months with the National Archives over possession of the documents in question and did not report their presence voluntarily.
Those obvious differences were of little concern to Republicans like Ronny Jackson, congressman from Texas.
“It’s just been discovered that Biden had HIGHLY CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS that were improperly stored in one of his private offices. INCREDIBLE! WHERE is the FBI? WHERE is the dramatic raid?” he asked, with the obvious answer being that FBI raids are predicated on the assumption that agents will find what they are looking for. There’s no reporting or any other evidence (yet) to suggest that Mr Biden retained any documents at his personal residences, or that any other documents were retained beyond those already handed over.
Just a few months ago, Mr Jackson seemed to believe that the FBI raiding the home of a president, current or former, amounted to the agency being used as “secret police”.
A number of lawmakers, including Congressman Andy Biggs, spread a conspiracy without a shred of evidence, claiming that the think tank where the papers were discovered, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, has received $54m (about) from the Chinese Communist Party. The think tank was asked by a right-wing group to explain a number of donations originating from China, but there’s zero evidence that the CCP was involved in any way and no accusations of wrongdoing have been made by credible sources.
Mr Biggs also claimed that Mr Biden “stole” the documents in a tweet sent from his account; the congressman is no stranger to spreading fibs and is a top supporter of the 2020 election denier gospel “2,000 Mules”, a documentary by Dinesh D’Souza that concocts a conspiracy about a supposed massive fraud effort which allegedly cost Donald Trump the 2020 election.
Another Republican to chime in was Congressman James Comer, incoming head of the House Oversight Committee. Mr Comer previously said that the Mar-a-Lago investigation regarding classified documents hoarded by Mr Trump in defiance of the National Archives would “not be a priority” for his committee.
“I don’t get involved in a lot of the drama from the last administration,” he told CNN in November.
He was more than willing to weigh in on the latest drama, however, and released a statement: “President Biden has stated that taking classified documents from the White House is ‘irresponsible.’ Under the Biden Administration, the Department of Justice and National Archives have made compliance with the Presidential Records Act a top priority. We expect the same treatment for President Biden, who has apparently inappropriately maintained classified documents in an insecure setting for several years.”
Finally there was Roger Stone, the longtime ally and confidante of former President Donald Trump, who swung for the fences with his own take on the issue and insisted without proof that China’s government had access to the classified materials. Mr Stone notably did not have the same outrage when Mr Trump was accused of revealing highly classified information to the Russian ambassador in 2017.
Declaring Mr Biden guilty of “treason” (punishable by death), the GOP operative added: “Joe Biden - Retained classified documents after he was no longer Vice President housed in his office at a foundation funded with $54M from the Red Chinese thus the Chinese had access to these classified national security secrets.”