A top congressional ally of President Joe Biden admitted Wednesday he is "concerned" about the president's evolving classified documents saga but ultimately downplayed the ordeal by saying "these things happen."
House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, South Carolina's lone Democratic congressman who has often been credited for saving Biden's presidential prospects with his endorsement, told "Your World" no one believes the president personally packed up the documents when he left the vice presidency and later moved into a University of Pennsylvania-linked office.
"I think all of us are concerned about this. The president has expressed concern about the handling of this as well. I don't think that any one of us believe that he packed up these boxes himself to move out of his office," Clyburn said.
Clyburn added that he himself recently moved out of the House Majority Whip office where he sat for the previous Congress and witnessed boxes prepackaged and ready to move, with their specific contents potentially varying. He said Biden and his team "self-reported" the discovery of the documents both at the Penn Biden Center in Washington and the president's private residence outside Wilmington, Del.
"Is the Archives looking for stuff, issuing subpoenas, trying to get stuff? He never claimed they were his own. These things sometimes happen, and we don't always respond appropriately because it always hindsight being 20/20," he said, appearing to contrast Biden's handling with that of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago case.
When asked about the Biden documents' timeline – the discovery of the UPenn-linked office documents just prior to the midterm election, and the discovery remaining private until the media broke the story earlier this month – Clyburn said such a dynamic is "not a crime at all."
"I suspect that all of us would be very cautious about alarming the American people or even the American voters," he said.
"The fact of the matter is, I would hope that all of … the searches could be made at one time and, issue all of the documents at once... These things happen and we tend to classify them as a slow drip. It just that you keep searching, and you don't do all the searching in one day."
Host Neil Cavuto replied that Biden gave the impression authorities were immediately notified of the documents, while critics have sown doubt, underlining Biden could simply have not been personally aware of the discovery.
Cavuto pondered whether the back-and-forth between the Biden camp and federal authorities plus the apparent "drip-drip fashion" of the findings could be seen as a "cleaner neater version of what they claim Donald Trump did."
"He was hiding maybe not to the degree and to the number of documents Donald Trump had. But, there were certainly unusual things going on. Will you acknowledge that the president was doing things very unusually and maybe secretly and that maybe he misrepresented himself?" Cavuto asked Clyburn.
"I certainly would not, because I don't see anything unusual about this at all. I know what my Republican friends are going to say, and that's expected of them," he replied.
Clyburn later added he does not believe the documents saga affects Biden's ability to run a successful 2024 re-election bid if he chooses, again contrasting Trump's case with Biden's.
"I don't think it would endanger his running at all. No, we don't need it. This is very uncomfortable. These things happen. But I wish this was the only thing that would happen that would make him uncomfortable as the days going on," he said.
"So things happen, and we wish they would not happen. But when they do happen, we do our best, and we have to determine intent: what were his intentions, what would Donald Trump's intentions. [Trump] said, these are mine. I want them. And I understand video shows him moving documents from one place to another. You didn't see any of this kind of stuff going on with Joe Biden."
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed former Maryland prosecutor Robert Hur special counsel to look into the Biden matter.