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Biden Ally Chris Coons Dismisses Documents Scandal, But What Do the American People Think?

Democratic National Convention via AP

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) has long been a close ally of President Joe Biden, taking on the position that Biden himself once had before he left the Senate to serve as vice president during the Obama administration. It's no surprise, then, that he would try to downplay and defend the president's handling of classified documents, as he did while on Sunday's edition of ABC News' "This Week."

Coons, like other Democratic guests have been on various Sunday shows over the past few weeks, was confronted right off the bat about the president's mishandling of those documents. As Spencer covered, even more documents were found late Friday night at Biden's Wilmington house. This is despite how White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has called the search "complete." Biden himself, as "This Week" host Martha Raddatz reminded Coons, had also just claimed he had "no regrets" when it comes to how he's been handling the process. 

The senator also repeated the narrative that other Democrats have used. 

"It is important that President Biden is someone who respects the rule of law, who respects the importance of classified documents, and that this was a consensual search that the Department of Justice was invited to come to his home and to search every nook and cranny, top to bottom, to find anything they possibly could," he offered, before then going on to throw former and potentially future President Donald Trump under the bus for his handling of documents. That has also been a tactic Democrats have used when speaking about the contrast.

In addition to "a fairly sharp difference in intent and in response," Coons pointed out that "I'm confident that President Biden has said truthfully that there's no there there and, in the end, we will see this was just an inadvertently matter of filing in sharp contrast to his predecessor."

Raddatz didn't let Coons off the hook that easily, though, as she questioned "how can [Biden] say he takes classified material seriously when some of what was found may have been in his home for more than a decade and he seemingly had no idea?"

Coons got arguably even dumber with his responses, which started to sound similar to those Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY), who had appeared on multiple Sunday shows the previous week. 

"The important part there, Martha, is that he had no idea," the senator stressed. "As you know, if you're serving in the Senate or as vice president or president, you literally get millions of documents coming through your office week in and week out. And as you get more senior and as the matters that you’re handling are more important and occasional more classified, the volume gets higher." He went on to explain that "I do think this was inadvertent" as a way to further excuse Biden's behavior. 

It was then that Coons brought up how Americans feel on the issue. "The whole point of having special counsel is to ensure that and to give the American people confidence," he offered. "But, frankly, Martha, I also don’t think that this is an issue that’s keeping Americans up at night. I think they’re worried about much more day to day things like inflation, prices at the pump, prescription drug prices. Our president is making real progress in our economy, in our place in the world, in reducing prescription drug prices and in helping the average American family," he argued, indeed being frank.

Such a tactic is nothing new. Retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was forced to admit last week on NBC News' "Meet the Press" that Biden's handling of documents is "certainly embarrassing," but framed it in such a way because of how Republicans are seizing an opportunity. She also then went on to sing the praises of the Biden administration.

That Coons brought the American people into the discussion though, so as to suggest they don't care so much, and that they don't because of these supposed successes of the Biden administration, is taking it to a whole new level. 

As it turns out, ABC News' own poll with Ipsos showed the American people do have a problem with Biden's handling of documents. 

The poll was conducted from January 20-21, with a random national sample of 532 adults and a margin of error of 4.5 points. There were also more Democrats and far more Independents than Republicans polled, with a breakdown of 28 percent of Democrats, 25 percent of Republicans, and 40 percent of Independents. 

The timing of the polls means that, as Raddatz pointed out, it was conducted before that late Friday night discovery, which could certainly prove even more problematic to the president's approval ratings on the matter. 

When asked "do you believe that will hurt him going forward," Coons tried to dance around the question as he once more emphasized his support for Biden. 

"Well, look, I think, Martha, what’s going to matter going forward is how this is handled," he argued. "And President Biden has fully and promptly cooperated. The reason there was a search of his house here in Delaware was he invited them in I do think in the end, whenever the special counsel concludes their investigation, they will agree with what President Biden just said. There was no there there." 

Coons also presented himself as a hypocrite, as he claimed that the situation of classified documents wasn't so bad because others were in the same place. "I suspect there’s a lot of senior or former elected officials now doing a fairly thorough search of the documents they have in their homes or in storage or at their institutes," Coons argued, going with a narrative that CNN had similarly gone with last week. 

When promoted again as to if Coons was truly sure that there wouldn't be fallout from this, the senator stuck to his narrative to hype up Biden's supposed successes. He even seemed to admonish Raddatz for daring to make it such a priority. at all. 

"Well, I think the fallout is right now, we’re talking about this, instead of President Biden’s leadership on confronting Russian aggression in Ukraine, or talking about something I do think is on people’s minds, the potential of a debt ceiling fight and a default," he argued. "The political fallout is it’s going to take focus and attention, and at a time when our president has done such a strong job where we’ve got the wind at our back because of the big pieces of legislation that he just signed into law in the last few months, the fact that this will take up time and be a distraction--yes, that has a political impact."

Regardless of Coon's definition of Biden having "fully and promptly cooperated," it's worth reminding how the documents were discovered on November 2, 2022--just days before the midterm elections where Democrats performed better than expected--but the news didn't break until months later, on January 9, 2023. Biden has also been cagey with the press, avoiding answering their questions outright initially, and then becoming snappish with them. The administration has also hardly been transparent, despite White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre claiming otherwise in press briefings, as Townhall has covered at length. 

Raddatz brought this timeline up later in the segment, asking if Coons considered that to be "a mistake." Coons, offering even more evidence of his role of carrying water for the president, mentioned "I think we’ll let the public decide that, and I think once we get to the end of the special counsel’s investigation, the American people will have a chance to make a judgment on that question."

One would never know that Raddatz had just confronted the senator with numbers that aren't exactly good for the president, no matter what Coons and his ilk have to claim.

When it comes to the American public, that ABC News/Ipsos poll isn't the only one that bears bad news for the president. Last week, Quinnipiac released a poll showing that 60 percent of Americans believe that Biden has acted inappropriately with his handling of classified documents. 

Further, that poll is also worth highlighting as it showed that Biden is at an approval rating of just 38 percent among registered voters and 36 percent among adults overall. The poll was conducted January 11-15 with 1,659 adults and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. Among the 1,466 registered voters, the margin of error was plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

RealClearPolitics (RCP) also gives Biden an average overall approval rating of 43 percent, while 52.4 percent disapprove. 

Coons looks to be wrong again, then, when it comes to how much the American people are supposedly celebrating the achievements of this administration. 

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