Classified documents from Joe Biden’s time as vice president were found Nov. 2, six days before the midterm elections, in Biden’s private office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington. The Biden administration didn’t announce the discovery, which was reported first Monday by CBS News.
Biden commented briefly Tuesday, saying he was “surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney to investigate what happened.
“It would be funny if it weren’t so serious, right?” Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., asks during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast,” adding:
What the Biden administration said about Donald Trump and the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, and the classified documents [stored there] that they won’t actually tell us what they really were, and then the same thing happens to Joe Biden, his vice presidential records going to the Biden Center, which, by the way, was funded by over $60 million from the Chinese Communist Party.
On the podcast, Banks adds:
There are two sets of rules in America today: one for anyone named Biden, Obama, or Clinton, and then a different set of rules for the rest of us.
And so, because of that two sets of rules and the lack of impartiality by the Biden administration, their DOJ, that’s what we should be investigating.
Banks also discusses the four-day fight over choosing a speaker of the House, what he hopes Republicans will focus on in the 118th Congress, and whether he will spearhead any investigations.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Samantha Aschieris: Joining the podcast today is Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
Rep. Jim Banks: Great to be here. Always enjoy being here and being a part of the podcast.
Aschieris: Thank you so much. Now, the new Congress is officially underway, but it did take a little bit to get here. As you and our listeners know, it took 15 rounds to elect House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. In the first round of voting, you actually received some support. You actually got a vote from Rep. Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma. So first and foremost, did you know that he was going to vote for you? What was your reaction when you heard that?
Banks: Well, I looked around for my mom. I thought maybe my mom voted for me for speaker. But no, it wasn’t my mom. It was Rep. Brecheen from Oklahoma. I owe him a great deal. What an honor to be someone’s choice to be speaker of the House. I didn’t ask for a recount. It was only one vote, a long ways to get to 218 from that vote.
But last week was a tumultuous, long week. All kidding aside, I think the outcome of it was healthy for our party, for our conference. The rules that were negotiated from the beginning to the end of the week only empowers rank-and-file members more to be voices for their district.
And I believe there’s been a lot of talk about it weakening the speaker, Kevin McCarthy. I actually think it strengthens him, will make him a strong speaker, because he recognizes that his power doesn’t come from the gavel in his hand, it comes from the members of his party who elected him to the position.
So the outcome was good. I like a lot of the rule, many of the rules that were in place even before the speaker votes started, that we’ll have 72 hours to read a bill before we have to vote on it. [Former House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi was notorious for putting a bill, dropping a bill at 3 in the morning, and then we’d have to vote on it a few hours later, big ominous bills that nobody could read. That’s one example of a rule change that I think matters.
More opportunities to file amendments that get debated and voted on the floor. One of my biggest complaints over the last six years of being in Congress is how rarely we have an opportunity to push for an amendment vote on big bills, and that’s going to change this Congress, too.
The motion to vacate, that was a big part of the debate all the way up to the end, and that’s important. But I think a lot of the other rules changes are even more important, that empowers members and will allow for us to push the conservative agenda that we promised on the campaign trail.
Aschieris: And just to dive a little bit deeper, obviously, the speaker race, we saw a lot of headlines that it was chaotic, that Speaker McCarthy would be weakened, so on. And now that that is settled and with Republicans in the House majority, what are you hoping to see the party focus on?
Banks: Yeah. If I’m ever told I have one week to live, I want to go back and go through the 15 rounds of voting for the speaker. It seemed like the longest week of my life. But now we’re beyond that and Republicans are united. We’re focused. We passed the rules package with only one Republican not voting for it.
Last night we passed a bill to create a select committee on China, the first time in congressional history that a majority has said that China is America’s biggest threat to our American way of life and we’re going to do something about it. And every Republican voted for it.
We also formed a select committee on the weaponization of government and going after the politicization of the FBI, the Department of Justice, a church-style committee that I think will be very important and a part of the legacy of this majority.
So those are things that we’ve already turned the page from the speaker’s race to the real work, rolling up our sleeves, getting the committee set up and moving forward.
We have a lot to do. We have to do everything we can to make America energy-independent again, and that’s going to be a big focus of the majority; securing our border and forcing this administration to do what they haven’t done, which is to address the border crisis and the fentanyl crisis in America. Those are the big issues that the Americans gave us, the majority, to focus on and now we’re focused.
Aschieris: And also, I wanted to ask, in terms of investigations, are you planning to spearhead any investigations?
Banks: Well, I serve on the Armed Services Committee and I intend to be at the tip of the spear of fighting back against woke-ism in our military.
The vaccine mandates, yes, they were lifted, but we had thousands of our troops who were affected by it. Troops that were separated from the military. They are owed an opportunity to be given a pathway to wear the uniform again, to serve and protect our country. And then ridding anti-Americanism, critical race theory, woke-ism for being pushed on our troops.
So you can count on me to be leading that fight on the House Armed Services Committee in a big way.
I serve on the education committee as well, so CRT, anti-Americanism being pushed on our kids in our schools is something that I hope we largely investigate—how the Biden administration didn’t just allow it to happen, but pushed for that to happen in the United States of America—so that we can stop that from happening again.
There will be a lot of other—the investigations into what happened in Afghanistan. I served in Afghanistan. I’m a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. It makes me sick to my stomach when I think about that tragic day when we lost 13 of our heroes because of the stupidity and the wokeness of this administration and the bad decisions that they made that led to the deadly withdrawal, the irresponsible decisions that led to the deadly withdrawal of Afghanistan, the mess that we left behind.
Just reading stories in the last few weeks about how the Taliban is preventing women from going to school and the issues related to the mess that we left there, that where Afghanistan is worse off today than it was in 2001 when we went in after 9/11.
So those are areas that we will investigate, that we have to investigate, and stay tuned for more on that in the coming days.
Aschieris: Yeah, I’m so glad you brought up Afghanistan. That was actually one of my next questions because so vividly you can remember the images of people falling from the planes and, of course, what has happened in the last year and a half since the U.S. left Afghanistan.
I just want to shift topics a little bit to something that we also heard about this week, the news that some classified documents from when President [Joe] Biden was vice president were found at the Penn Biden Center. Now CNN reports that 10 classified documents—including U.S. intelligence memos and briefing materials that cover topics including Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom—were found. The president did weigh in on this on Wednesday, and we’re going to go ahead and play some of his audio per ABC News.
President Joe Biden: People know I take classified documents and classified information seriously. When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me, secure office in the Capitol, when the four years after being vice president I was the professor at Penn. They found some documents in a box, in a locked cabinet or at least a closet. And as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box, and they did what they should have done. They immediately called the [National] Archives, immediately called the Archives, turned them over to the Archives.
And I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office. But I don’t know what’s in the documents. My lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I’ve turned over the boxes. They’ve turned over the boxes to the Archives. And we’re cooperating fully, cooperating fully with the review, which I hope will be finished soon, and there will be more detail at that time.
Aschieris: So Congressman, what are your thoughts on the president’s comments?
Banks: It would be funny if it weren’t so serious, right? What the Biden administration said about [former President] Donald Trump and the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago and the classified documents that they won’t actually tell us what they really were, and then the same thing happens to Joe Biden, his vice presidential records going to the Biden Center, which, by the way, was funded by over $60 million from the Chinese Communist Party. So that’s a part of this that needs to be recognized, too.
And keep in mind that the president of the United States has the authority to declassify classified documents, not the vice president. And then on top of that, if this happened, if they found out about this, discovered this six days before the election, why weren’t the American people notified of it after everything that they said, everything Joe Biden said about Donald Trump, calling for him to be investigated, calling him reckless and irresponsible because of the documents of Mar-a-Lago? And he did something that’s even worse.
And this just goes to show why I’m talking about the weaponization of the church-style committee, the weaponization of the federal government. There are two sets of rules in America today, one for anyone named Biden, Obama, or Clinton, and then a different set of rules for the rest of us.
And so, because of that two sets of rules and the lack of impartiality by the Biden administration, their DOJ, that’s what we should be investigating. And I’m glad that Jamie Comer, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, has already started and launched that investigation, asking questions about these classified documents at the Biden Center, but also asking questions about why the unprecedented move, the very political move was made at Mar-a-Lago in raiding the home of a former president. It’s never happened before in American history, too.
Aschieris: Now, just one more topic I want to talk about. My colleague, Fred Lucas, actually reported on this earlier this week and I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into the story. Now, you and other House Republicans are calling for a ban on Big Tech private funding of election organizations. Tell us a little bit more about this.
Banks: The “Zuckerbucks”—remember in the 2020 election, Mark Zuckerberg giving private grants to election boards and government election or vote-counting centers and election boards. And [Rep.] Claudia Tenney, by the way, she started an election integrity caucus in the Congress, which I’m a proud member of, and also has written bills to ban Zuckerbucks or other private citizens from giving money and influencing the way that elections are conducted or votes are counted or how election boards are built.
Now, they gave these grants sort of in the name of COVID and pandemic and buying [personal protective equipment], but very little of that money actually went to that. And furthermore, something like 94% of the precincts where these grants were funneled to were heavily Democrat precincts.
So clearly this was all part of the Left’s and the Biden campaign’s strategy, using Mark Zuckerberg and Big Tech companies to funnel money into election precincts that were heavily Democrat to influence the 2020 election. We should be investigating that, but we should also be banning those practices and making sure that never happens again.
Aschieris: Congressman, any final thoughts?
Banks: It’s great to be here. Happy New Year. We’re off to work in the 118th Congress and I’m excited about what we can accomplish.
Aschieris: Great, thank you so much.
Banks: Thank you.
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