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Sen. Joe Manchin criticizes Biden’s handling of classified documents: ‘Irresponsible’

The West Virginia Democrat was interviewed on NBC News' "Meet the Press" after six more items, including documents with classified markings, were found in Biden's Delaware home.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in Piketon, Ohio, on Oct. 20, 2022.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in Piketon, Ohio, on Oct. 20.Gaelen Morse / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., criticized President Joe Biden on Sunday for his handling of classified documents after six more items were found at the president’s Delaware home.

In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Manchin said Biden’s having classified documents in unsecured places was “irresponsible” and voiced his support for Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to appoint a special counsel to review the materials.

“To be held accountable and responsible is what we all are,” Manchin said. “And to put those in unsecured spaces is irresponsible.

“It’s just hard to believe that in the United States of America, we have a former president and a current president that are basically in the same situation. How does this happen?” he said, adding that he recalls being asked whether he was “clean” of secure documents upon leaving a sensitive compartmented information facility.

Biden, Manchin continued, should own up to having made mistakes after batches of classified records were found in recent weeks at his residence and a Washington office he used.

“We make mistakes," he said. "I can tell you I don’t think anyone intended, he sure didn’t intend, for it to fall in wrong hands and use it against our country. I know they didn’t intend that to happen."

Manchin added: “Could it have happened? I don’t know. And yeah, you just might as well say: ‘Listen, it’s irresponsible. It was something we should’ve had a better check and balance on.'"

Asked whether he will run for the president in 2024, Manchin said, “Everything’s on the table." He declined to support Biden should the president seek re-election.

“I haven’t decided on anything I’m going to do until I see what the lay of the land is going to be at that time, because this country needs to unite,” Manchin said. “We need to come back together. We’re not coming together. And it needs to bring somebody that can bring this country together.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a top Biden ally, similarly chided Biden over his handling of classified documents in an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," saying he’s “concerned” because of the process involved in viewing the records.

“There’s a standard that we follow when it comes to members of Congress and classified information. The door to my office is closed. The person who presents the document to me takes it out of a locked briefcase, hands it to me and watches as I read it. When I finish reading it and he takes it back and puts it in the briefcase and leaves the scene,” Durbin said.

“I mean, that’s how carefully we review these documents,” he said. “To think that any of them ended up in boxes in storage one place or the other is just unacceptable.”

Durbin, however, emphasized Biden's pledge to be “totally transparent” about the matter, in “sharp contrast” to former President Donald Trump, who kept hundreds of classified records at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach Florida after he left office and did not fully comply with a subpoena, prompting a search warrant to be executed in August.

Biden's personal attorney said Saturday that six more items, including documents with classified markings, were found at his home after Justice Department officials searched it. The search was prompted by the White House, not the Justice Department, a White House official and a source familiar with the matter said.

It brings the total number of batches of records found to four. The discoveries, which have trickled out this month, include a “small number” in a locked closet in an office space at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, another set in the garage of Biden's residence and six pages in a room adjacent to the garage.

The Justice Department has appointed special counsel Robert Hur, a former federal prosecutor who has worked with many Republicans throughout his law enforcement career, to oversee the Biden investigation.