(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), outgoing chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous” on Sunday that he would like to see Congress do its own assessment and find out from the intelligence community whether national security was jeopardized with the handling of classified documents by President Biden or former President Trump.
Schiff said it’s “the right move” to appoint a special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents recently found at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and his Wilmington, Del., residence during his time as vice president.
“I do think it's the right move. The attorney general has to make sure that not only is justice evenly applied, but the appearances of justice are also satisfactory to the public, and here, I don't think he had any choice but to appoint a special counsel, and I think that special counsel will do the proper assessment,” he said.
“I still would like to see Congress do its own assessment of -- and receive an assessment from the intelligence community of whether there was an exposure to others of these documents, whether there was harm to national security, on the case of either set of documents with either president, but, yes, I think the special counsel was appropriately appointed,” the congressman said.
“Jonathan, if I could also, though, because my state is still trying to dig out from these terrible storms, I want to thank the president for making an emergency declaration and let Californians know that in the three most affected counties they can now apply for help in terms of rebuilding their homes and their businesses and that other counties need to report their damage as soon as possible so they can qualify for relief as well,” Schiff said.
When asked whether it’s possible that national security was jeopardized with Biden’s handling of classified documents, the congressman said, “I don't think we can exclude the possibility without knowing more of the facts. We have asked for an assessment in the intelligence community of the Mar-a-Lago documents.
“I think we ought to get that same assessment of the documents found in the – in the think tank, as well as the home of President Biden. I'd like to know what these documents were. I’d like to know what the IC's assessment is, whether there was any risk of exposure and what the harm would be and whether any mitigation needs to be done. I think that would be appropriate and consistent with what we requested in the case of Mar-a-Lago,” he said.
Pointing to the revelation that the White House knew about the documents on Nov. 2, a week before the midterms, but didn’t notify the public until this week, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked whether the White House should have been more forthcoming.
“I think the administration will need to answer that question. I'm going to reserve judgment until they do. But I think it's important to point out that the Biden approach was very different in the sense that it looks, as far as we can tell, that it was inadvertent that these documents were in these locations,” Schiff said.
“When they were discovered, they were immediately provided to The Archives or to the Justice Department. There was no effort to hold on to them, no effort to conceal them, no effort to obstruct the Justice Department's investigation. All of that is a very sharp contrast to Donald Trump's handling of the situation. So, as you point out, this is a very different matter. But, nonetheless, I think it's appropriate for special counsel to look into both situations,” he said.
Schiff said that House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s requests for internal communications between the White House and the Penn Center and a list of everyone who worked there who would have potentially handled these requests “are completely hypocritical when you consider” what Comer said about “the Mar-a-Lago situation.”
“I think Congress ought to handle both situations the same way, and that is we ought to get a briefing from the intelligence community about any potential risks to national security of where those documents were and what they contained, but Congress shouldn't try to interfere with the investigations,” the congressman said.
“I think, sadly, that's what Mr. Comer's object is. He showed no interest in investigating the far more serious situation with about 100 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago with evidence in the public domain of obstruction. Now he is suddenly interested in investigating President Biden,” he said.
“So you don't think the White House should cooperate with the committee on this?” Karl asked.
“I never said the White House shouldn't cooperate. What I said was Congress ought to ask consistently, and we shouldn't try willfully to interfere with what the Justice Department is doing. That's what I think Mr. Comer is intending, but, yes, I think the Biden administration ought to cooperate with any appropriate inquiry from Congress,” Schiff said.