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22 Jan, 2023 22:03

US Democrats criticize Biden over classified documents

Senators Joe Manchin and Dick Durbin have called out the president for his “irresponsible” handling of state secrets
US Democrats criticize Biden over classified documents

Lawmakers in Joe Biden’s own party have stepped up criticism of the US president over his mishandling of state secrets after the FBI seized additional classified documents during a search of his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Speaking on America’s Sunday morning television talk shows, veteran Democrat Senators Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Dick Durbin (Illinois) didn’t shy away from scolding their party’s leader for failing to secure documents that were found at his home and a Washington think tank bearing his name. The fourth and latest round of secret materials turned up when FBI investigators searched the president’s home on Friday.

The FBI search came one day after Biden told reporters that he had “no regrets” over his handling of the situation. “I think he should have a lot of regrets,” Manchin said in an NBC News interview. The senator added that he would hold staffers accountable if they mishandled secret documents in his office, “but basically, the buck stops with me.”

Manchin also told CNN that it was “unbelievable” and “totally irresponsible” for Biden to expose state secrets to possible theft. Although he doesn’t believe Biden intended for the documents to fall into the wrong hands, he added, “Could it have happened? I don’t know.”

Durbin noted that when members of Congress are shown classified materials, the information is shown to them behind closed doors, then put back into a locked briefcase and taken away. “That’s how carefully we review these documents,” he told CNN. “To think that any of them ended up in boxes, in storage at one place or the other, is just unacceptable.”

The Illinois Democrat lamented, too, that Biden will lose some of his influence as a leader. “Let’s be honest about it. 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. Whether it was the fault of a staffer or attorney makes no difference. The elected official bears ultimate responsibility.”

Both senators contrasted how Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, reacted when confronted over their possession of classified documents. Trump allegedly defied a subpoena, leading to an FBI raid at his home. Biden’s lawyers have reportedly cooperated with investigators.

Manchin said both leaders were clearly irresponsible, even if they didn’t mean to undermine national security. However, he discouraged taking sides until special counsel investigations of both cases are finished.