President Biden on controversy over release of classified documents: ‘They’re not there’

APTOS, California. After a frustrated Joe Biden responded “there isn’t” when he was aggressively questioned about the discovery of classified documents and official records in his home and former office, his spokeswoman said Friday the president is taking the matter seriously. .

“He’s really serious about classified information, he’s really serious about classified documents,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday, answering questions about comments made by Biden the day before. She declined to answer further.

“We found that several documents were filed in the wrong place,” Biden told reporters who questioned him Thursday while on a hurricane damage tour in California. “We immediately handed them over to the Archives and the Department of Justice.”

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

“I think you’ll find there’s nothing there,” he said. — There isn’t.

The White House said that Biden’s attorneys have found classified documents and official records four times in recent months – on Nov. January at the president’s home library.

The revelation complicates a federal investigation into former President Donald Trump, who, according to the Justice Department, took hundreds of records labeled secret with him after leaving the White House in early 2021 and resisted requests for months to return them to the government.

The two cases are different – Biden, for example, voluntarily handed over the documents he once found. But the issue is tiring for 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, though key questions remain unanswered.

Attorney General Merrick Garland last week appointed Robert Hur, a former Maryland US Attorney, as Special Counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation of documents. Garland said extraordinary circumstances require special counsel, and he also made the decision in part to demonstrate the Justice Department’s “commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.”

Gur replaces U.S. Attorney John Lausch, who was originally asked to review documents and whose team had already questioned former Biden aides responsible for packing boxes during his tenure as vice president. Those interviews include Cathy Chang, who was 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 disappointment that the paperwork issue came up when he looked into the damage caused by the coastal storm, telling reporters that it “pisses me off” that he’s being asked about the handling of classified material, even though “we’ve got a big problem here.” ” in California.

Why don’t you ask me questions about this? he pressed.

Biden’s team has been criticized for its scattered disclosures – the public was not made aware of the documents until early January, with further findings slowly emerging after that. This sometimes led to violent skirmishes between reporters and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in the White House briefing room. She ran into trouble when she said last Friday that all documents had been recovered, but another discovery was uncovered over the weekend.

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

“I follow what the lawyers told me what they want me to do,” he said.

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