PBS White House Reporter Spews DNC Talking Points, Ripping Comer on Classified Documents

On Monday’s PBS NewsHour, the show’s White House correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez brought Democrat-friendly summations to the Trump and Biden classified-documents controversies, suggesting Trump (and not Biden) may have violated the Espionage Act.

She started by noting that Biden staffers insist there are no visitor logs at the Biden residence in Wilmington, Delaware, where the president has spent many days of his presidency. Then she moved on to partisan anti-Republican digs, 

BARRON-LOPEZ: This comes, this response from the White House comes after House Republicans, in particular Congressman Jim Comer, who’s going to lead the Oversight Committee, said that, or requested the logs asking for them, even though they never asked for them in the case of the seizure of classified documents from president, former President Trump.

Barron-Lopez provided a timeline about the Biden team’s delayed disclosures about classified documents discovered in two locations (the Penn Biden Center in D.C. and his Wilmington home) and how the Department of Justice responded:

BARRON-LOPEZ: One thing here of course is that the White House is facing a lot of questions about transparency. That is a political issue for them because the president has prided himself on having a transparent White House. But legally there is nothing requiring the White House or even former President Trump’s in his case, or the DOJ or National Archives to disclose when they found these documents to the public. 

PBS doesn’t question the idea that Biden can “pride himself” on having a transparent White House when he gave only seven interviews to journalists in 2022, and that didn’t include the NewsHour.

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Later, Barron-Lopez returned to taking on Congressman Comer: 

BARRON-LOPEZ: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy just said today that of course he wants as much information as possible. But Congressman Jim Comer, who I mentioned earlier, who’s going to chair Oversight, admitted this is not necessarily about classified documents for House Republicans. 

Rep. JAMES COMER (R-KY): At the end of the day my biggest concern isn’t the classified documents, to be honest with you. My concern is how there’s such a discrepancy in how former President Trump was treated by raiding Mar-a-Lago, by getting the security cameras, by taking pictures of documents on the floor, by going through Melania’s closets versus Joe Biden – they’re like, your personal lawyers who don’t have security clearance, they can go through. 

Barron-Lopez conveniently laid out the Democratic talking points against Republicans: 

Congressman Comer said right that this is about the difference about treatment, well there is a very real factual reason why President Trump was treated differently. He withheld these documents for more than a year and so did his team, and DOJ, National Archives expended a lot of different steps to try to get these documents back. And it wasn’t until the judge signed off on a search warrant. Because they had real concern that the former president was obstructing the ability to obtain these documents and was also potentially violating the Espionage Act. I think it’s also important to note that as Republicans widely are calling for more information on Biden they have not said that they would not investigate former President Trump’s classified documents at all. 

When we have no idea what’s in the classified documents at issue, it’s just as easy to say Biden potentially violated the Espionage Act. He held on to his classified documents for seven years, not one. PBS pretends that raiding a former president’s home is not at all controversial or unprecedented.

Then PBS moved on to the Democratic response, playing a clip from Rep. Adam Schiff calling for damage assessment, while implying Democrats like Schiff were handling things in a fair and balanced way, unlike partisan Republicans.

While harping on the differences in the cases that make Biden look more responsible, PBS made no mention of any differences that may redound in Trump’s favor. For instance, in Trump’s case, there was apparently only one location where classified documents were being held, while in Biden’s case there are now two.

A partial transcript is below, click “Expand” to read:

PBS NewsHour

January 16, 2023

7:12:22 p.m. Eastern

Host Nick Schifrin: The White House confirmed today that there are no visitor logs for the President’s Delaware home where the president’s lawyers found additional documents with potentially classified markings. Laura Barron-Lopez brings us here, is with me here now, and brings us up to speed. Laura, welcome. So what did the White House say today about these visitor logs? 

Laura Barron-Lopez: So a White House, spokesperson for the White House counsel’s office Ian Sam says there are no logs for the president’s Wilmington home, that that is a personal residence. And in keeping with past traditions for presidents, that’s personal, they’re not going to keep records there but that the White House of course has visitor logs and they reinstated that after President Biden’s predecessor did away with those. 

This comes, this response from the White House comes after House Republicans, in particular Congressman Jim Comer, who’s going to lead the Oversight committee, said that, or requested the logs asking for them, even though they never asked for them in the case of the seizure of classified documents from president, former President Trump.

Schifrin: And obviously this is after additional documents were found in Wilmington over the weekend. What we know at this point about those? 

Barron-Lopez: So we have a little bit more of a fleshed-out timeline here, which was partially provided by President Biden’s private lawyer. So on November 2, 2022, Biden’s attorneys find documents at the Penn-Biden Center, immediately notify Archives. November 9, 2022, DOJ launches its assessment. Then December 20, 2022, Biden’s, President Biden’s attorneys, President Biden’s attorneys, find documents at his Wilmington residence inside the garage and they notify the DOJ. 

Then just last week January 11 of this year Biden’s attorneys find one potentially classified document, again, one single document in the Wilmington residence. And then January 12, DOJ takes possession of those five additional documents found at the Wilmington residence and that was a new revelation over this weekend, was, was that five additional documents. 

One thing here of course is that the White House is facing a lot of questions about transparency. That is a political issue for them because the president has prided himself on having a transparent White House. But legally there is nothing requiring the White House or even former President Trump’s in his case, or the DOJ or National Archives to disclose when they found these documents to the public. 

Schifrin: Mostly of course those questions that you just mentioned are coming from Republicans who are in charge of the House now. And they say they say they plan to investigate President Biden’s handling of these documents. What are those questions, what are those Republicans focusing on? 

Barron-Lopez: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy just said today that of course he wants as much information as possible. But Congressman Jim Comer, who I mentioned earlier, who’s going to chair Oversight, admitted this is not necessarily about classified documents for House Republicans. 

Rep. James Comer (R-KY): At the end of the day my biggest concern isn’t the classified documents, to be honest with you. My concern is how there’s such a discrepancy in how former President Trump was treated by raiding Mar-a-Lago, by getting the security cameras, by taking pictures of documents on the floor, by going through Melania’s closets versus Joe Biden – they’re like, your personal lawyers who don’t have security clearance, they can go through. 

Barron-Lopez: Congressman Comer said right that this is about the difference about treatment, well there is a very real factual reasons why President Trump was treated differently. He withheld these documents for more than a year and so did his team, and DOJ, National Archives expended a lot of different steps to try to get these documents back. And it wasn’t until the judge signed off on a search warrant. Because they had real concern that the former president was obstructing the ability to obtain these documents and was also potentially violating the Espionage Act. I think it’s also important to note that as Republicans widely are calling for more information on Biden they have not said that they would not investigate former President Trump’s classified documents at all. 

Schifrin: And quickly Laura, how are Democrats in Congress responding at this point? 

Barron-Lopez: Right. So Congressman Adam Schiff as well as a number of other Democrats have been calling for damage assessment. And here is what Congress Schiff had to say today, sorry, this weekend. 

Rep. Schiff: I think Congress ought to handle both situations the same way and that is, we have to get a briefing from the intelligence community about any potential risk to national security of where those documents were and what they contained. 

Barron-Lopez: So just like they called for in the case of President Trump’s classified documents, Democrats are again calling for a damage assessment which is very common when classified documents are found where they’re not supposed to be found.

Schifrin: Laura Barron-Lopez, thank you very much.

Barron-Lopez: Thank you.

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