Biden offered ‘access to every room of his home’ in documents search but NO COMMENT as to how classified material ended up with president: DoJ now responsible for investigation says White House
- White House says Justice Department will determine how Biden had files
- Classified documents scandal escalated with more material discovered
- White House warns even more could be found as probe continues
President Joe Biden offered the Justice Department access to ‘every single room’ in his Wilmington home to search for classified documents, the White House said on Monday.
But spokesman Ian Sams couldn’t say how the material ended up in the president’s personal possession and said it would be up to the Justice Department to make that determination. He also warned more documents may be discovered as the investigation continues.
The White House remains on the defensive as the situation surrounding the classified material escalated this weekend with the discovery of even more documents in Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home. Republicans are demanding answers and even Democrats are starting to sound critical of the administration’s handling of the situation.
The classified documents scandal escalated with the discovery of more material – above President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden return from a weekend at their beach house
White House spokesman Ian Sams said more documents could be discovered
‘We’re following DoJ’s lead throughout this investigation, making sure that they have access to the information that they need to conduct an efficient and thorough review. That’s why the president and his lawyers offered up access, unprecedented access, I should add, to every single room of the president’s personal home to ensure that any documents that need to be properly in possession of the government are taken and are in proper possession of the government,’ Sams said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
But when asked how the documents – which date back to Biden’s time a senator and his service as vice president under Barack Obama – ended up in Wilmington, he said DoJ would make that determination.
‘They’re going to be tasked with finding all the facts, putting it all together, understanding exactly what happened, asking the questions. That’s appropriate. That’s why we’re fully cooperating,’ he said.
‘I understand that there’s a desire for public disclosure of information, that there’s a desire for facts to come out. But it’s important that the full set of facts be gathered by the Department of Justice,’ he added. ‘Then we’ll be able to talk publicly more about the conclusion of that investigation and what it uncovered.’
The president’s classified documents scandal took a new turn over the weekend when Biden’s personal attorney announced six more documents had been found at Biden’s Wilmington home after the Justice Department spent 13 hours on Friday searching the property.
DoJ requested the search and Biden gave them permission to access his private property. While not quite the same situation as Donald Trump’s – who had his Mar-a-Lago home raided by FBI agents after he refused requests from the National Archives to turn over documents from his presidency – it does have parallels and has led to Republicans charging the nation’s top law enforcement agency with hypocrisy.
Additionally, Sams warned that more documents could be found.
‘In any investigation, information develops. That’s the nature of an investigation,’ he said.
And he pushed back on criticism the administration has received for not immediately disclosing the discovery of classified material to the public.
‘We’re doing our best to release information consistent with that ongoing investigation and to respect its integrity, but at the end of the day, information is going to develop through this process,’ he said.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (left) and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (right) are among the Democrats questioning Biden’s handling of the classified documents
Even some Democrats are now questioning the administration’s handling of the scandal. Originally Biden and his team waited two months to concede he had classified material in his possession that dated back to his time as vice president and only admitted it after CBS News reported the news.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin admitted this weekend that Biden has lost the ‘high ground’ on this issue after the president criticized Donald Trump for having classified material in his possession.
‘When the information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it. Because it’s not supposed to happen,’ Durbin said Sunday on CNN.
‘Whether it was the fault of a staffer or attorney,’ he added, ‘it makes no difference. The elected official bears ultimate responsibility.’
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was also critical of Biden and described his own experience reading classified material, noting that ‘they want to make sure you’re not carrying anything out. You know, and it might be a mistake, you might just put it in your other papers, but you double check it right there.’
‘So that- to be held accountable and responsible is what we all are. And to put those in unsecured spaces is irresponsible,’ he said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Biden, himself, has taken a personal hit, with his refusal to disclose the discovery immediately to the public – especially when it was revealed the initial discovery was made six days before the 2022 midterm election.
Since then, the administration has announced more documents have been found but has struggled to explain the delay in publicly announcing each discovery. Administration officials stress that the National Archives and Justice Department were informed promptly and argue they were following federal procedure.
The White House also has stressed that Biden’s team has cooperated voluntarily with law enforcement to allowed access to documents Biden’s lawyers have discovered, and have tried to contrast it with Donald Trump’s months long resistance to requests from the National Archives, in a clash that led to an FBI search under a subpoena.
President Biden didn’t answer questions about the matter when he returned to the White House on Monday morning after spending the weekend at his beach house in Rehoboth, Delaware.
Biden also didn’t address questions on whether his Rehoboth property will be searched by federal agents. His personal attorney searched it and said no classified material was at the beach house. The president is scheduled to go to Camp David this coming weekend.
Republicans are demanding more information on the matter.
‘It is troubling that classified documents have been improperly stored at the home of President Biden for at least six years, raising questions about who may have reviewed or had access to classified information,’ House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer wrote to the White House last week.
Both Biden and Trump are being investigated by special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Six more classified documents were found in the Bidens’ Wilmington home, the White House announced this weekend
In total, there have been five discoveries of classified materials: at the Penn-Biden Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C.; in Biden’s garage at his Wilmington, Del., home; one document discovered in his ‘personal library’ in the same home; four more documents found in his home; and then another six found when the Justice Department did another search of his Wilmington residence.
The initial discussions on how to deal with the discovery at Biden’s think tank were tightly held by a core group of Biden loyalists led by the husband and wife team of Bob Bauer, who is Biden’s personal attorney, and Anita Dunn, who serves as a senior adviser in the White House, The New York Times reported.
Also in the discussions were Biden’s sister Valerie Biden Owens; White House senior adviser Mike Donilon; White House counsel Stuart Delery; and White House lawyer Richard Sauber.
But taking the public beating has been White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who is grilled in her daily press briefings with questions about why the discovery wasn’t publicly disclosed, the validity of the information she is giving to the public, and what else is being kept hidden.
Jean-Pierre has admitted she and her press team learned about the documents’ existence when CBS News asked about it for their story – which was two months after the initial discovery.
She’s also made a series of misstatements – including saying six times the search for more documents was completed, only for five more to be found – that are compounding the public relations problems for the White House.
All of this – the lack of disclosures, the misstatements, and Biden’s testiness – has contributed to the impression the White House has not been forthcoming and that their strategy on this has been a mistake.
The president himself has been defensive on the matter, saying in California last week: ‘I think you’re gonna find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets. I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do. It’s exactly what we’re doing. There’s no there there.’
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