Biden on the discovery of classified documents: “They are not there”

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A frustrated President Joe Biden said Thursday that he was “not there” when he was pressed about the discovery of classified documents and official records at his home and former office. “We found that several documents were filed in the wrong place,” Biden told reporters who questioned him during a survey of damage from the storms in California. “We immediately turned them over to the archives and the Department of Justice.” Biden said he was “fully cooperating and looking forward to resolving this matter quickly.” “I think you’ll see there’s nothing there,” he said. “They are not there.” The White House revealed that Biden’s lawyers have found classified documents and official records four times in recent months — on Nov. 2 at the offices of the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and then during subsequent searches on Dec. 20 in the garage of the presidential residence in Wilmington, Delaware, and on the 11th and 12th. January in the home library of the president. The discovery complicates a federal investigation into former President Donald Trump, who the Justice Department says took hundreds of classified records with him when he left the White House in early 2021 and refused for months to demand their return to the government. These two cases are different — for example, Biden willingly turned over the documents he found. But the issue has strained the president and his aides, who have repeatedly said they acted quickly and appropriately when the documents were discovered and are working to be as transparent as possible, even as key questions remain unanswered. Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Gurr, a former Maryland state attorney general, as special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the documents. Garland said extraordinary circumstances warranted a special counsel, and he also made the decision in part to show the Justice Department’s “commitment to independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.” Gurr will take over from federal prosecutor John Loesch, who was initially asked to review the documents and whose team has already interviewed former Biden aides responsible for packing the boxes during his time as vice president. Those interviews include Kathy Chung, who was working as an administrative assistant at the time, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. Biden expressed frustration that the document issue was being raised during a review of coastal damage from the storm, telling reporters he was “confused” to be asked about the handling of classified material, even though “we have a serious problem here” in California. “Why don’t you ask me questions about what?” he pressed. Biden’s team has faced criticism for piecemeal disclosures — the public was not notified of the documents until early January, and additional findings have been slow to trickle out since then. At times, this led to heated exchanges between reporters and White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre in the White House briefing room. She ran into trouble when she suggested last Friday that all the documents had been recovered, only for a further revelation to be revealed over the weekend. Biden said Thursday that he has “no regrets” about how and when the public learned about the documents. “I’m sticking with what the lawyers have told me they want me to do,” he said.___Long has been reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

A frustrated President Joe Biden said Thursday that he was “not there” when he was pressed about the discovery of classified documents and official records at his home and former office.

“We found that several documents were filed in the wrong place,” Biden told reporters who questioned him during a survey of damage from the storms in California. “We immediately handed them over to the archives and the Ministry of Justice.”

Biden said he is “fully cooperating and looking forward to a speedy resolution to this matter.”

“I think you’ll see there’s nothing there,” he said. “He’s not there.”

The White House revealed that Biden’s lawyers found classified documents and official records four times in recent months — on Nov. 2 at the Penn Biden Center’s offices in Washington, D.C., and then during subsequent searches on Dec. 20 in a garage. of the President’s Home in Wilmington, Delaware, and on January 11 and 12 at the President’s Home Library.

The revelation complicates a federal investigation into former President Donald Trump, who the Justice Department says took hundreds of classified records after he left the White House in early 2021 and refused for months to return them to the government.

These two cases are different — Biden, for example, willingly handed over the documents he found. But the issue has strained the president and his aides, who have repeatedly said they acted quickly and appropriately when the documents were discovered and are working to be as transparent as possible, even as key questions remain unanswered.

Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Gurr, a former Maryland state attorney general, as special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the documents. Garland said the extraordinary circumstances required a special counsel, and he also made the decision in part to demonstrate the Justice Department’s “commitment to independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.”

Hurr takes over from federal prosecutor John Loesch, who was originally asked to review the documents and whose team had already interviewed former Biden aides responsible for packing the boxes while he was vice president. Those interviews include Kathy Chung, who was working as an administrative assistant at the time, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Biden expressed frustration that the document question arose as he surveyed storm damage on the coast, telling reporters he was “confused” to be asked about the handling of classified material, even though “we have a serious problem here” in California.

“Why don’t you ask me questions about it?” he pressed.

Biden’s team has faced criticism for piecemeal disclosures — the public was not notified of the documents until early January, and additional findings have been slow to trickle out since then. At times, this led to heated exchanges between reporters and White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre in the White House briefing room. She ran into trouble when she suggested last Friday that all the documents had been recovered, only for further discovery to be made over the weekend.

Biden said Thursday that he has “no regrets” about how and when the public learned about the documents.

“I’m sticking with what the lawyers told me to do,” he said.

___

A long report from Washington. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

Biden on the discovery of classified documents: “They are not there”

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