Democratic unit defending Biden begins to see defections

WASHINGTON — A Democratic effort to discredit the congressional Republicans launching a slew of investigations into President Joe Biden may break through an unexpected obstacle: fellow Democrats.

As classified documents from Biden’s vice presidency turn up where they shouldn’t be, Democratic lawmakers are becoming increasingly outspoken in their criticism of how he or his aides handled sensitive material believed to have been returned to the administration when he took office. job resigned in 2017.

As Biden’s defenders see it, reprimanding him in this combustible moment is a form of self-sabotage. It lends credibility and legitimacy to House Republican committee chairs seeking to use Congress’s subpoena power to weaken Biden ahead of the 2024 election, they argue. A better approach would be to speak with a unified voice and question the motives and intentions of the Republicans who control the House investigative machinery and have squared off Biden, they added.

“My own view is that the anonymous Democrats who are doing that are actually putting forward a false, right-wing narrative and they should stop giving the stomach ache,” said David Brock, president of Facts First USA, a group created to fight the Republican-led oversight. of the Biden administration. “Democrats are not doing themselves a favor by anonymously criticizing the government.”

The convictions are no longer so anonymous. Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., called the debacle “irresponsible” on Sunday.

Biden is one of a growing number of high-ranking officials who are falsely in possession of classified material. FBI agents seized a trove of documents from former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, home last summer on suspicion that he had failed to give up everything he had taken from the White House. And former Vice President Mike Pence revealed this week that he, too, had discovered classified documents in his Indiana home.

“It’s all terrible. It’s just bad: bad optics and bad policy,” Manchin said.

One sore point for members of Congress is that they have to take special precautions when viewing classified documents, but the rules don’t seem to apply to the White House. Either legislators read the material in the presence of an executive branch official who then picks it up when they are done, or they review it in a secure room and leave it on the table when they leave. Given the constraints they face, Democratic lawmakers seem incredulous that Biden’s office was so debauched that classified materials ended up in his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and an old office in Washington, D.C.

“At the end of the day, it’s a responsibility of all of us — whether you’re a senator or president or whoever — to keep track of all your papers and make sure they’re in the right place,” said Senator John Hickenlooper, D-Colo ., . And it must be a partnership between the elected official and his staff. The blame can be placed on anyone, but in the end it is my job.”

Another irritation was the slowly advancing White House revelations that Biden’s lawyers have been unearthing more and more batches of classified material.

“I hope that all places that could be searched have been searched and there will be no further discovery of documents,” said Neil Eggleston, a former White House counsel under then-President Barack Obama. “Every time there is a new discovery of documents, it becomes more difficult for President Biden to take the position that this is all just plain and a mistake in the packing process, which I ultimately think it is.”

Whatever the merits of such criticism, some Democrats are urging the party to silence them now that Republicans are investigating and in a position to harm Biden.

“When they criticize the White House, I don’t know what kind of agenda they’re putting forward, except … it helps MAGA’s far-right agenda,” said Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist and co-chair of Facts First. “They are certainly not helping themselves.

On Capitol Hill, House Republicans have opened a surveillance investigation into Biden’s handling of the files. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the Secret Service this week requesting logs showing who may have visited Biden’s home and may have seen documents found on the property. (Both the White House and the Secret Service said they do not keep such records for his personal whereabouts.)

The documents are just one part of distant investigations the GOP has conducted. Comer’s committee is also investigating the paintings sold by Biden’s son Hunter. And he has sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking for any “suspicious activity reports” that banks may have prepared in connection with Biden’s family business transactions.

“We understand that the White House and administration will resist any attempt” to turn over documents, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a member of the Oversight Committee. “But I don’t think they can resist subpoenas to testify. I suspect you’ll see that happen very soon — and very powerfully — in a way that you may not have seen Republicans do in your lifetime.

Ahead of Republicans taking control of the House in the midterm elections, Democrats have made a multi-pronged effort to fend off the inevitable investigations. The White House counsel’s office now has a communications department to respond quickly to Republican allegations of misconduct by the president. A wave of outside groups, including Facts First, are active, amplifying the White House message and attacking GOP lawmakers as extremists abusing their oversight powers.

Even if the Democrats can’t stick to a consistent message, at least they can rest assured that the Republicans have the same problems. A more moderate wing of the GOP worries that an obsessive focus on Biden and his family will alienate voters and endanger the party’s slim majority.

“I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about policy issues,” says Rep. Nancy Mace, RS.C., a member of the Oversight Committee.

“Examine the corruption, but also get out on the substance: inflation, immigration and finding a middle ground” on abortion, she added. “If we don’t do that, we’ll lose the majority in two years. We’ll lose seats because of this.”

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