(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly one month since the FBI's search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, cited the privileges given to Trump as a former president as justification for taking 15 boxes of classified documents out of the White House.
"You know, I have lived in the classified world most of my professional career, I personally wouldn't do that. But I'm not the president of the United States. But he has a different set of rules that apply to him," McCaul told ABC News' "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz, who asked if he saw any reason that Trump took the highly classified materials.
"I know they were taken out of the White House while he was president and whether or not he declassified those documents remains to be seen. He says he did. I don't have all the facts there," said McCaul, who has been pushing for more information about the search to be released alongside some fellow GOP lawmakers.
Martha pushed back, saying that Trump’s attorney general Bill Barr found the idea of Trump standing over documents and declassifying them to be absurd.
Raddatz also brought up Joe Biden's "soul of the nation" speech in Philadelphia on Thursday, in which he was highly critical of MAGA Republicans. Immediately after the president's remarks, McCaul took to Twitter, writing that "attacking half of America will only further divide our country."
Raddatz questioned McCaul on his social media statement, asking, "When you look at those polls showing 60 to 70% of Republicans believe Joe Biden is not the legitimate president, what is Biden supposed to do when the country cannot even decide what democracy means?"
McCaul said that while "democracy is messy," it is "better than all the other forms of government," and also argued that if Biden's intention with the speech was to unify the American people, it "had just the opposite effect."
"And, you know, saying that Republicans are a threat to democracy is really a slap in the face ... you know my vote on certification and my position on that. I took an oath to the Constitution but having said that, you don't come out to unify the nation," McCaul said, adding that it "was not a presidential address."
Raddatz asked for McCaul's -- who was a former federal prosecutor -- reaction to Trump's remarks in a speech Saturday where Trump referred to the FBI and the Department of Justice as "vicious monsters."
"I think the perception is what a lot of Republicans I know see on the heels of the Russian investigation, the Steele dossier," McCaul said. "There's a certain distrust but verify attitude -- when it comes to the Department of Justice and the FBI, and it, frankly, saddens me because as a alumni of DOJ, I hate to see people's faith in our institutions be weakened."
Asked by Raddatz about how much Donald Trump should be blamed for the division in the country, McCaul blamed both political parties for the recent heightened rhetoric. He made a reference to Abraham Lincoln who, rather than condemning the opposing party during that time, brought them into the conversation in the spirit of unity, he said.
That is the mission that Biden should embark on but failed to do in his speech Thursday, according to McCaul. “It was a campaign speech before the midterm elections, and that’s basically how I see it,” he told Raddatz.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.