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'There was no subterfuge': Neal defends Biden but approves of investigation on classified documents

U.S. Representative Richard Neal announces federal funding for a new wastewater operations building in Westfield, Massachusetts, on January 13, 2023.
Alden Bourne
/
NEPM
U.S. Representative Richard Neal announces federal funding for a new wastewater operations building in Westfield, Massachusetts, on January 13, 2023.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield responded on Friday to news that documents marked "classified" had been found at the Delaware home of President Joe Biden.

Neal said it's important to remember that Biden voluntarily turned the documents over.

"His attorneys in fact were the ones that discovered the documents and they turned them over," he said. "There was no subterfuge. There was no effort to hide here or masquerade those documents. When they were discovered, they were turned over."

Neal said Attorney General Merrick Garland made the right decision to appoint a special prosecutor to examine the issue, including the discovery of classified documents at an office Biden previously used.

Over the weekend, Biden's attorney said he found additional documents at the president's home.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department continues to investigate classified papers seized from Donald Trump's home in Florida. Officials said the former president's staff had refused to return them.

'We pay our bills'

Meanwhile, Neal said he hopes a divided Congress approves raising the federal debt ceiling before it expires.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified Congress the U.S. will reach its statutory debt limit on Thursday.

Some Republicans have said they want to see spending cuts before agreeing to raise it. Neal took issue with that.

"The debt ceiling should not be demagogued," he said. "We pay our bills. It's the full faith and credit of the United States."

While Republicans took control of the House in January, Neal said the GOP's margin is narrow and that could mean the two sides have to work together on the debt ceiling and other issues.

"The House is so divided," he said. "I mean, they are literally up by four votes. So I think there should ought to be a measure of opportunity here with both sides, as well."

With the Republican takeover, Neal lost his chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He remains the top Democrat on the panel.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.