Senator Dick Durbin is a five-term Democrat from Illinois who is currently the Senate Democratic majority whip. The term “whip” commonly refers to someone who works to gather party votes on major issues and can act as a de facto floor leader if the majority or minority leaders are absent. The position makes Durbin the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate.
On Sunday, Durbin appeared on CNN‘s State of the Union, where he was pressed for his take on the classified documents situation that is currently plaguing Biden. The senator said he was very concerned about the situation, and discussed the protocols employed in Congress when lawmakers view sensitive materials.
“There’s a standard that we follow when it comes to members of Congress and classified information,” Durbin said. “The door to my office is closed, the person who presents the document to me takes it out of a locked briefcase, hands it to me, and watches as I read it. When I finish reading it, he takes it back, puts it in the briefcase, and leaves the scene. That’s how carefully we review these documents.”
By comparison, Durbin criticized Biden’s alleged handling of top-secret documents as “unacceptable.” Multiple rounds of classified documents, dating back to Biden’s time as vice president under former President Barack Obama, and as far back as his time in the Senate, have been found at properties linked to him, including a private office building in Washington, D.C., and his residence in Delaware. Some documents at the latter location were reportedly found in boxes in a locked garage.
“To think that any of them ended up in boxes and storage in one place or the other is just unacceptable,” Durbin added.
Despite that criticism, Durbin also praised Biden for his transparency and cooperation with investigators throughout the situation, calling it a “sharp contrast” to former President Donald Trump‘s handling of a similar situation.
Another voice criticizing Biden’s handling of the documents on Sunday was Senator Joe Manchin, the moderate West Virginia Democrat whose opposition has often sunk parts of the president’s legislative agenda. Appearing on NBC‘s Meet the Press, Manchin said that Biden “should have a lot of regrets” about the situation, and further suggested that the president be forthcoming and admit to making mistakes.
Manchin also echoed Durbin’s take on the situation, agreeing that Trump’s handling of his document scandal, including his defiance of a subpoena, was “much different” than Biden’s.
The White House has repeatedly stressed that the president is cooperating with investigators handling his document case. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has named a special counsel to oversee the case, which remains ongoing.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.