The brewing scandal of classified documents poses a very serious problem for President Joe Biden, warned David Gergen, a White House adviser-turned-political analyst.
Speaking on CNN on Saturday, Gregen was asked by host Anderson Cooper how big a mess the Biden administration is in following the discoveries of classified documents at Biden’s private offices. He responded, “It’s a very, very big deal.”
News broke earlier this week that classified material dating from Biden’s vice presidency had been found in the Washington office of the Penn Biden Center, a think tank affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, in the days leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. The White House later admitted that more pages of classified documents were discovered in the president’s Delaware home.
The “Biden people” are not dealing with this political crisis properly, according to Gergen, a former adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. “I do think that they may be making a big mistake,” he said.
“I don’t think sitting there, hunkering down now, just acting like it’s not out there, is a good strategy. They’re going to get creamed doing that,” Gergen told Cooper, noting that the longer the White House remains reluctant to tell the truth, the more eager the American public will become to ask the question, “What are they hiding?”
“As matters now stand, that long delay in putting it out there is going to encourage people to believe, ‘Well, what are they hiding?'” he said.
Instead of giving in to the temptation to hunker down, Biden should simply “get the facts out,” Gergen argued, pointing to the Iran-Contra affair that occurred during Reagan’s second term. When it was exposed that the CIA had secretly sold missiles and other military weapons to Iran in exchange for some Americans held hostage by Iran-backed terrorists and used the money to fund anti-communist Contra fighters in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration’s popularity took a dip, largely because of the White House’s unsuccessful damage control attempts.
“There’s a temptation in every one of these kinds of crises to hunker down,” he said. “You are going all the way back to Iran-Contra and other kind of crises like that. You’ve just got to get the facts out.”
While Gregen describes the classified document scandal as a political crisis, it appears that it’s turning into a legal one as well. On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Hur, a former Maryland U.S. attorney, as special counsel to investigate whether Biden improperly handled classified material.
Hur, who was appointed to the Maryland court by President Donald Trump and currently works at a Washington law firm, said in a statement he would conduct the investigation “swiftly and thoroughly” with “fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment.”
Meanwhile, the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee announced Friday that they’re starting their own probe into the matter. In a letter to Garland, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mike Johnson (R-La.) gave his department until Jan. 27 to provide information about Biden’s “mishandling of classified documents, including the apparently unauthorized possession of classified material.”
The Republicans also specifically asked for records related to the appointment of Hur as special counsel. “The circumstances of this appointment raise fundamental oversight questions that the Committee routinely examines,” the congressmen wrote.