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'It's an embarrassment': Democrats express shame over Biden's apparent mishandling of secret documents

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Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The recent revelations about President Joe Biden's improper retention of top-secret documents have prompted some Democrats to embrace absurd conspiracy theories about who is really to blame. Others have downplayed the severity of the scandal.

A handful of Democrats have now admitted that the recent turn of events painting the Democratic president as a hypocrite are "embarrassing."

What are the details?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told NBC's "Meet the Press" that "it's certainly embarrassing" that Biden should be caught having done precisely what he castigated former President Donald Trump for allegedly doing.

"From my perspective, it's one of those moments that obviously they wish hadn't happened," said Stabenow.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) concurred that the debacle ought to be a source of shame, telling "Fox News Sunday" that "It's an embarrassment, no doubt about it."

"I can only – in fact, I don't need to imagine, I know exactly what President Biden said when he was informed that these documents were found in his office in Washington, and that was an 'Oh,' followed by a four-letter expletive," added Garamendi.

Fellow California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told ABC's "This Week" that Congress cannot "exclude the possibility" that Biden, through his mishandling of classified documents — more of which turned up over the weekend in the president's Delaware home — compromised national security.

Extra to special counsel Robert Hur's investigation into possible impropriety committed by Biden, Schiff suggested Congress should assess "whether there was an exposure to others of these documents, whether there was harm to national security," but intimated that such an assessment would also be used to look into Trump's handling of classified documents.

Schiff previously suggested that Trump's storage of sensitive documents in a guarded, locked environment — not a garage — was an indication that the former president was a public menace with a cavalier attitude toward hard-won critical information.

Schiff also penned a letter to the director of national intelligence, stating, "Those entrusted with access to classified information have a duty and an obligation to protect it."

Congress and the security community should "take all necessary steps to protect classified information and mitigate the damage to national security done by its compromise is critically important," Schiff added.

Concerning the investigation into the Democrat president's potential crimes, Schiff said over the weekend, "I'd like to know what these documents were. I'd like to know what the [special counsel's] assessment is, whether there was any risk of exposure and what the harm would be and whether any mitigation needs to be done."

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) underscored the gravity of the situation.

"Classified documents are to be taken seriously and they are to be handled with a great deal of care, and no one is above the law," Warnock told "This Week," adding, "So I’m glad to see the Justice Department doing its work, and we ought to let that work proceed. … Nobody’s above the law. And we need to get to the bottom of this so that we don’t see this kind of thing happen again."

When pressed on whether the White House — which knew about the classified documents before the midterm elections — should have told the public earlier, Warnock answered, "The Justice Department is engaged in the investigation and that's one of the questions that I think they will explore. And I don't want to get in front of that investigation."

One Clinton campaign veteran told The Hill, "Everyone can say what they want, but this weakens him, full stop. ... This is just one of those things that will stick around and won’t go away."

The Clinton aide added, "It just creates the question. 'If he's being this frivolous with the documents in the garage with his Corvette, who knows what else he's doing?'"

Former Obama adviser David Axelrod told Reuters the Biden scandal was an "embarrassment"; "basically ... a huge gift to Trump."

Not all are convinced that Democrats' expressions of embarrassment and concern over Biden's latest scandal are in any way sincere.

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) suggested last week that the timely discovery and announcement of these documents and the resultant efforts by Democrats to distance themselves from the president may altogether be "a way to get rid of Joe Biden."

"They don't want this man to run for president again. He's a recipe for disaster in the next presidential election," said Jackson.

Trial lawyer Neama Rahmani suggested this is an unlikely strategy, given that the threat of criminal charges would serve as a disincentive for Biden to drop out of the 2024 race.

Rahmani told Newsweek that if Biden "is really worried about being prosecuted, that makes it more likely he will run in 2024, not less."

Whether or not it would be sound strategy, the timing of these revelations has nevertheless prompted some to wonder, especially since the documents have allegedly sat unsecure in various locations, including by Biden's gas-guzzling Corvette, for years.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tweeted, "What prompted them to look for Joe Biden’s classified documents?"

Despite acknowledging he "could drop dead tomorrow," Biden told MSNBC's Rev. Al Sharpton in September that he was "going to do it again ... I'm going," referencing a 2024 attempt at reelection.

According to the latest Rasmussen Reports/Pulse Opinion Research poll, 52% of the nation disapproves of the job Biden is doing, with 42% strongly disapproving and only 26% strongly approving.

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