Biden is “surprised” by the secret documents in the private office
President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he was surprised to learn classified documents had been found in a think tank he once used.
However, Biden said he and his team are cooperating fully with a review of what happened.
Biden told reporters at a joint news conference with the leaders of Mexico and Canada that he takes the classified documents very seriously. He said he did not know what was in the documents.
“We are cooperating fully with the review, which I hope will be completed soon,” Biden said.
Biden, a Democrat, faced criticism from Republicans after his Justice Department opened an investigation last year into former Republican President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents discovered at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Cases differ in several ways.
Biden’s attorneys discovered less than a dozen classified records inside the office at the think tank and reported their discovery to the US National Archives, turned over the materials, and said they were cooperating with the Archives Administration and the Justice Department.
Biden periodically used the think-tank office space from mid-2017, after his term as vice president to Democratic President Barack Obama ended, until the start of his 2020 presidential campaign.
By contrast, Trump kept thousands of government records, a few hundred of which were marked classified, inside his Florida residence for more than a year after leaving the White House, and did not immediately or voluntarily return them despite numerous requests from the National Archives. . .
When Trump finally handed over 15 boxes of records in January 2022, the archives discovered that more than 100 were marked classified. It later referred the matter to the Ministry of Justice.
Investigators attempted to persuade Trump to return any remaining classified records with a grand jury subpoena and a visit to his home in Mar-a-Lago.
On that visit, Trump’s advisers returned a few dozen additional classified records and certified that there were no other classified materials at the headquarters.
Suspecting possible obstruction of justice, the FBI sought and received court approval in August to search his Florida home, where agents found more than 13,000 additional records, about 100 of them top secret.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Special Counsel Jack Smith in November to investigate the matter.
To prove a crime occurred, investigators will need evidence to show that Trump or his associates knowingly and knowingly kept the records and deliberately sought to obstruct the administration’s investigation to bring them back.
Republican Representative Mike Turner of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence sent a letter asking US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines for an “immediate review and damage assessment” of the Biden documents case.
“The discovery of classified information will place President Biden in potential violation of laws protecting national security, including the Espionage Act and the Presidential Records Act,” Turner said in a statement on Tuesday.
Representative Elise Stefanik, a staunch Trump ally who chairs the House Republican caucus, said in a statement that the documents raised serious national security questions. She called it “disturbing” that they were turned over to the National Archives before the November midterm elections and “and a corrupt Biden Department of Justice covered it up for two months.”
Biden defended the handling of the documents.
“They found some documents in a chest in a locked safe, or at least a locker. Once they did, they realized there were many secret documents in that chest. And they did what they should have done. They immediately called the archives.”
“I was made aware of this discovery and was surprised to learn that there were any government records transferred there to that office, but I don’t know what is in the documents,” he said.
He said his lawyers suggested that he not ask what was in the documents.
“I handed over the boxes, they turned the boxes over to the archives, and we are cooperating fully with the review, which I hope will be finalized soon. There will be more details at that time,” he said.