Several congressional Republicans are swiftly moving past Tuesday's news that classified documents were discovered in former Vice President Mike Pence's Indiana home, but still suggest there is something more suspicious about the documents found at President Joe Biden's home and former office.
In a letter to the National Archives, Pence's lawyer Greg Jacobs wrote that there were a small number of classified documents that were "inadvertently boxed and transported to the personal home" after Pence's term ended in January 2020.
Outside counsel "with experience in handling classified documents" were hired to conduct the search, which Jacobs says was performed "out of an abundance of caution" after Biden's home was searched.
Some GOP lawmakers have appeared to be more sympathetic to Pence while criticizing Biden.
While appearing on Fox Business on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Biden's situation was "just a mess."
"It is incompetent. It is corrupt," Cruz said. "That is an enormous political problem for the Biden White House."
However, when he was asked about Pence just moments later, Cruz said that the former Republican vice president is "a good man" and that his collection of classified documents was simply "a mistake."
House Republican Conference chairwoman Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., was also quick to distinguish the two cases during a Wednesday news conference.
"In the case of Vice President Mike Pence, he came forward and proactively reached out and is following the process," she said. "In the case of Joe Biden, he has had classified documents going back to his time in the Senate, where he started serving before I was born. So this is a longstanding national security threat."
Stefanik also shared her concern that Biden's son may have had access to the documents, claiming it was a "very important fact that Hunter Biden also had access and used as his home address where those classified documents were improperly and illegally stored."
Stefanik explains how Mike Pence did nothing wrong and how Trump was treated unfairly but also how Biden's actions are a national security threat. She also says the FBI has been weaponized against Trump and is engaged in a coverup for Biden pic.twitter.com/HwSne9khQm
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 25, 2023
Other Republicans, who have defended Trump for his hoarding of over hundreds of classified documents in his Mar-a-Lago home, have condemned Biden for keeping documents from his Senate tenure.
"I do not understand how a U.S. senator can take a classified document out of a SCIF [sensitive compartmented information facility] if they're not stuffing it in their pants or somewhere else," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Tuesday.
Cruz also called for the FBI to search Hunter Biden's homes and offices to check for more classified documents.
"If these classified materials in particular implicate Burisma, Ukraine, Communist China, payments going to Hunter Biden or Joe Biden's brother or the Biden family, then this shifts from a political problem to a very serious problem of criminal liability and major crimes," Cruz said on Fox Business.
A Senate investigation led by Republicans in 2020 found no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden regarding the latter's work with Burisma Holdings, a private natural gas company in Ukraine.
Cruz and Stefanik have been blasted for their reactions to the two situations, with many critics pointing out the hypocrisy of their statements.
When asked about Pence in his Fox Business interview, Cruz immediately said the story is "still early" and that it is "very different from what Joe Biden has done." Twitter users immediately criticized these remarks.
TED CRUZ: The FBI needs to search the University of Delaware and Hunter Biden's home and business addresses
LARRY KUDLOW: What about Pence, a friend of both of ours, who found classified documents in his home?
CRUZ: Oh look, Mike Pence has explained where these came from pic.twitter.com/VZwobf8RZl
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 24, 2023
"Like so many in the @GOP, @SenTedCruz will completely ignore their own party members' actions while attacking the actions of others. Cowards and hypocrites is all you get with conservatives," one user said.
Former Biden staffer Chris Strider tweeted that "Ted Cruz is/was/will always be a joke," and another user called him a "hyperbolic hypocrite."
Ted Cruz is/was/will always be a joke.
— Chris Strider (@stridinstrider) January 25, 2023
"It's like 'hypocrisy' punches him square in the face and Ted simply responds with 'thank you sir, may I have some more?'" Myles Davies wrote.
It's like 'hypocrisy' punches him square in the face and Ted simply responds with "thank you sir, may I have some more?"
— Myles Davies (@mylesdavies) January 24, 2023
"Can I just say again that Ted Cruz sucks?" tweeted former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh. "He doesn't have the honesty, the decency nor the fair-mindedness to simply say 'It was wrong for Biden to have classified docs at home, and it was wrong for Pence to have classified docs at home' and leave it at that."
Can I just say again that Ted Cruz sucks? He doesn't have the honesty, the decency nor the fair mindedness to simply say "It was wrong for Biden to have classified docs at home, and it was wrong for Pence to have classified docs at home" and leave it at that. https://t.co/nqdWQ5SCzm
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) January 24, 2023
Other observers labeled Stefanik's statements during her press conference "soulless" and "shameful."
"These people are unbelievable," replied one user. "How do they not smell what they're shoveling?"
These people are unbelievable. How do they not smell what they're shovelling?
— Chidi (@ChidiNwatu) January 25, 2023
However, not all Republicans were ready to dismiss Pence's handling of classified information.
"It is a serious matter for any government official to mishandle classified documents," tweeted Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "I plan to ask for the same intelligence review and damage assessment to see if there are any national security concerns."
It is a serious matter for any government official to mishandle classified documents. I plan to ask for the same intelligence review and damage assessment to see if there are any national security concerns.
— US Rep. Mike Turner (@RepMikeTurner) January 24, 2023
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote in a tweet that he doesn't believe Biden, Trump or Pence had any "sinister motives," but added that "we have a classified information problem which needs to be fixed."
I don't believe there were 'sinister motives' with regards to the handling of classified information by President Biden, President Trump, or Vice President Pence.
We have a classified information problem which needs to be fixed.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 24, 2023
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the Republican-led House Oversight Committee that is investigating Biden's handling of classified documents, aired out his frustrations with GOP lawmakers in a statement on Tuesday.
According to Raskin, Republicans' "glaring failure to acknowledge that former President Trump refused to cooperate with the government and continually rebuffed calls to turn over thousands of presidential records and hundreds of classified documents" shows that they are "simply not serious about" preserving and protecting presidential records and classified information.