Democratic Rep. Jim Himes on Tuesday admitted that he is “profoundly troubled” by the discovery of additional classified documents at President Joe Biden’s Delaware home but pushed back on any comparisons between the president and former President Donald Trump in regard to the handling of sensitive materials.
“Any time there are classified documents outside of a secure space, I am profoundly troubled, whether that space is owned by a Republican president or a Democratic president,” the Connecticut Democrat told “CNN This Morning,” adding that GOP members have behaved “in a radically different manner now that Biden has apparently done what Trump did, in retaining classified documents.”
“Any time, any one president or no president has classified documents out side of a classified space, it’s a big problem,” Himes said.
Himes’ comments, coming days after FBI investigators found additional classified material while conducting a search of Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, reflect the latest attempts by members of Biden’s own party to navigate a sensitive political matter as disclosures continue to unfold.
“If something is classified it is classified because the emergence of that information could damage national security,” said Himes, who drew a distinction between Biden’s response and that of Trump, who long refused to turn over classified documents upon repeated request.
“Biden has been cooperative and Trump was not cooperative,” Himes said. “So, at some point, when a moment comes to talk about whether one of them was obstructing or not, we will have that conversation.”
Several Democrats in recent days have publicly criticized Biden over the unfolding controversy.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin on Sunday conceded that Biden, who once said it was “totally irresponsible” when classified documents were found on Trump’s property, has “lost the high ground” on the issue.
“When that information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it because it’s not supposed to happen,” Durbin said. “Whether it was the fault of a staffer or an attorney, it makes no difference. The elected official bears ultimate responsibility.”
And Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, “It’s unbelievable how this could happen. It’s totally irresponsible.”
Bob Bauer, the president’s personal attorney, said in a statement that during the search of Biden’s Wilmington home, which took place over nearly 13 hours Friday, “DOJ took possession of materials it deemed within the scope of its inquiry, including six items consisting of documents with classification markings and surrounding materials, some of which were from the President’s service in the Senate and some of which were from his tenure as Vice President. DOJ also took for further review personally handwritten notes from the vice-presidential years.”
Those six items are in addition to materials previously found at Biden’s Wilmington residence and in his private office.
The federal search of Biden’s home was voluntary but marked an escalation of the probe into the president’s handling of classified documents and drew comparisons to his predecessor – even if the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence was conducted under different circumstances.