Senator Lindsey Graham offered a defense for President Joe Biden as he faces growing scrutiny from conservatives over a number of classified documents found at his Delaware home and an office he once maintained at the University of Pennsylvania.
Speaking with reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the South Carolina Republican said that while he stood by his initial effort to bring a special counsel against Biden to investigate how the classified material left Washington, D.C., he did not believe that the material in Biden’s possession was potentially compromising to national security.
“Let me just say this: I’m known President Biden for a long time,” Graham told reporters. “I’d be shocked if there’s anything sinister here.”
Graham’s comments appear to undermine claims by some on the right who have raised questions over whether Biden’s son, Hunter, could have accessed the documents while under scrutiny for his business dealings overseas.
This came following a report by the conservative outlet The Washington Free Beacon last week showing Biden’s son driving the Chevrolet Corvette convertible that was allegedly parked beside one of the troves of files recovered from Biden’s Wilmington home.
“If Hunter Biden did have access to the classified materials, it could raise national security concerns,” the article published on January 18 said. “The younger Biden has been accused of leveraging his father’s name to strike lucrative foreign business deals, and he is under federal investigation for tax fraud.”
Representatives with Graham’s office noted in an email to Newsweek that his comments on Tuesday should not be seen as Graham undermining the severity of removing classified material from the White House.
Notably, Graham was among the first to call for a special counsel to investigate how the documents made their way out of Washington, something U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ultimately complied with earlier this month.
“If there’s not a special counsel appointed to find out how this happened with President Biden regarding classified information, there is going to be a lot of angst—it will hurt the country,” Graham said at the time.
The senator argued in a Fox News interview in August that Trump’s prosecution posed a “double standard” following the discovery of emails on a private server maintained by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton containing some classified information ahead of the 2016 election.
Trump, notably, defied requests by the National Archives to return the classified documents once they were discovered, prompting an FBI raid of his home.
“I think the important point is what he’s been saying all along—if Trump gets a special counsel, so does Biden,” a representative of Graham’s office told Newsweek. “The two matters need to be handled in the same way.”
Graham has said as much publicly.
While he questioned why the press was not told about Biden’s mishandling of classified information until after the 2022 midterms—even though it was initially discovered days before the election—he said it was important for both individuals, Trump and Biden, to respond to questions about how those documents ended up in their possession.
“Every time I view classified information, it is in a classified setting,” Graham told Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade Tuesday morning. “So this handling of classified information by Biden and Trump is important. Let’s have the same system applied to both and make sure we don’t do this again.”
It appears to be a recurring problem. On Tuesday morning, CNN reported the Department of Justice sent FBI agents to retrieve a “small number” of classified documents from former Vice President Mike Pence‘s Indiana residence after they were discovered by one of Pence’s lawyers, who then reported it to the agency.
The discovery came after Pence repeatedly claimed he did not have any classified documents in his possession.