Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) sparred with several hosts on CNN late this week when pressed about President Joe Biden’s growing classified document scandal.
Schumer made the contentious remarks during an interview on “CNN This Morning” on Friday, claiming that it was “too early” to comment about whether Biden violated the law.
“It’s much too early to tell,” Schumer said. “I think President Biden has handled this correctly. He’s fully cooperated with the prosecutors when the documents were found, he notified Archives. It’s a total contrast to President Trump, who stonewalled for a whole year.”
CNN’s Don Lemon pushed Schumer over reports that indicated that the administration gave “misleading statements” that have now “created the impression that Biden’s team has something to hide.”
“That doesn’t sound that much different than the former president,” Lemon said.
“Don, there’s now a special prosecutors. Let’s see what they have to say,” Schumer responded. “We can have all the speculation and comment. Let’s see what they have to say and let’s focus on doing things that help the American people.”
“But, senator, I have to get — I have to say this,” Lemon fired back. “You seem much more measured about this than with the Trump documents because you called for transparency with the Trump documents. You wanted lawmakers to have access to the documents seized from the former president, his residence in Florida.”
When Poppy Harlow brought up whether Biden was being transparent with the American people, Schumer responded, “Bottom line is the prosecutors will get to the bottom of this and let’s let them do it, for God’s sake.”
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN: Joining us now to weigh in on all of this and what’s happening on Capitol Hill is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator obviously from New York. We’re so glad to have you back on set.
But we have to ask you about what’s happening with the attorney general now appointing the special counsel, and the fact that the White House is acknowledging, yeah, these classified documents were found. Do you believe that he’s violated the federal law here?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It’s much too early to tell. There’s a special prosecutor in each situation. I think President Biden has handled this correctly. He’s fully cooperated with the prosecutors when the documents were found, he notified Archives. It’s a total contrast to President Trump, who stonewalled for a whole year. But the point is we now have special prosecutors for both of these situations, very serious people. We should let it play out. We don’t have to push them in any direction or try to influence them. That’s all I’m going to say, let the special prosecutors do their job.
COLLINS: Do you support the fact that a special counsel is overseeing this matter now?
SCHUMER: Yes, I do. And, in fact, when they first — the FBI went to Mar-a-Lago and they said, well, what are you going to say about this? I said, it’s premature to comment, and I’ve said it here. So, I’ve been consistent about it in both cases. You have prosecutors, special prosecutors, I support both of them. Let them do their job. I think that’s all that should be said. The politicians shouldn’t be buzzing around.
LEMON: Just to be sure about what you said, do you believe that the Biden folks are being transparent about this? Do you think that they’re being —
SCHUMER: I think the Biden folks, as I said, cooperated with the prosecutorial authorities from day one and Donald Trump didn’t.
LEMON: This is our reporting. According to one justice official, said that the White House public statements earlier this week offered an incomplete narrative about the classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president reinforced the need for special council. The misleading statements created the impression that Biden’s team has something to hide. That doesn’t sound that much different than the former president.
SCHUMER: Don, there’s now a special prosecutors. Let’s see what they have to say. We can have all the speculation and comment. Let’s see what they have to say and let’s focus on doing things that help the American people.
LEMON: But, senator, I have to get — I have to say this. You seem much more measured about this than with the Trump documents because you called for transparency with the Trump documents. You wanted lawmakers to have access to the documents seized from the former president, his residence in Florida, which it seems like you —
SCHUMER: The bottom line is, I said that night it’s premature to comment on what should be done, and I stood by that.
LEMON: For President Trump?
SCHUMER: Yes, former President Trump. That’s exactly right. That’s what I said.
LEMON: So, you think that your statements are consistent for both?
SCHUMER: I sure do. You bet.
HARLOW: So, you say the president has fully cooperated. And there’s no indication that he and the White House have not, but there is a real question about transparency and what the American people deserve. Let me just —
SCHUMER: Bottom line is the prosecutors will get to the bottom of this and let’s let them do it, for God’s sake. I know you want to buzz around and all of that, but the bottom line is —
HARLOW: Let me buzz for a minute. Let me buzz for one minute and I promise we’ll get on to something else.
LEMON: But it’s not just — hold on, it’s not just us buzzing around. You’re the Democratic head of the Senate. This is a really important issue. It’s not just buzzing around.
SCHUMER: No. But we have to — and if there were no special prosecutor, there would be — you might have a different thing to say, but there is.
And now we have the law enforcement people who have the power to get all the facts out doing it. I support both. I think we should have a special prosecutor on each. I don’t mind you asking these questions, but my view is I’m not going to say anything, let the special prosecutors do their job.
HARLOW: The question I was going to ask is about the fact when this did come out, after CBS News’ reporting, and the White House came out and acknowledged it, they only addressed the documents found on November 2nd, but they knew at the time about the documents found on December 20th. And that’s what begs the question of full transparency. And it’s not just us. The Washington Post editorial board this morning says the same thing, that if the president and this White House answered more questions directly like that exact timeline, that would, quote, promote trust and pre-empt this criticism. Would you like to see the White House do that today?
SCHUMER: I leave everything up to the special prosecutors. Their obligation legally was to report things to the Archives the minute they discovered them. Unlike Trump, they did.
Related: House Oversight Chairman On Biden’s Document Scandal: National Archives Won’t Disclose What Was Found