President Joe Biden claimed he was shocked that his lawyers had discovered official records at his former Washington, D.C., office.
In response to the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee requesting that the American intelligence agency carry out a “damage assessment” of potentially sensitive documents, he was questioned about the matter.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Mexico City, Biden said that when his lawyers quickly contacted the National Archives about the discovery at the Penn Biden Center offices, they “did what they should have done.”
After leaving the vice presidency in 2017, he maintained an office there until just before he began his Democratic presidential candidacy in 2019.
The Department of Justice was looking over “a small number of documents with classified markings” that was discovered at the workplace, the White House confirmed.
In his first remarks since word of Nov. 2, 2022, document discovery broke on Monday, Biden said, “I was briefed about this discovery and astonished to see that there are any federal records that were carried there to that office.”
He said, “I don’t know what’s in the records,” and his attorneys advised him not to inquire.
Biden’s retention of the materials put him in “possible violation of laws protecting national security, including the Espionage Act and Presidential Records Act,” according to Rep. Mike Turner, who sent the request to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines earlier on Tuesday.
Regardless of the outcome of a federal investigation, the president may experience political difficulties due to the revelation that Biden may have handled sensitive or presidential documents improperly.
The president has criticized former President Donald Trump for keeping many such records at his Florida country club.
Turner wrote to Haines that “those entrusted with access to sensitive material have a duty and an obligation to preserve it.”
“This matter requires a comprehensive examination,”
Rep. James Comer, the new Republican head of the House Oversight Committee, wrote the White House Counsel’s office on Tuesday asking for copies of the paperwork discovered in Vice President Biden’s office, communications regarding the find, and a list of individuals who may have had access to the space.
In September, Haines consented to evaluate the Trump case’s risks instead of damages.
There are substantial contrasts between the circumstances involving Trump and Biden, notably the seriousness of an ongoing grand jury investigation into the Mar-a-Lago incident.
The intelligence risk assessment of the Trump documents aims to look at the possible damage to national security that could arise from the revelation of the relevant documents and the classification of the records that have been seized.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Democratic head, Sen. Mark Warner, requested a briefing on the documents.
U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters was ‘surprised’ to learn that classified documents were found in a think-tank office he once used. Biden said he takes classified documents seriously and he did not know what was in the documents https://t.co/hPsWXetFF7 pic.twitter.com/4zxUyp4aVt
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 11, 2023