White House spars with reporters over Biden classified documents questions

The White House on Wednesday sparred with reporters over questions surrounding classified documents found in a former private office belonging to President Biden.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, in the first press briefing since the discovery of the documents became public on Monday, avoided answering questions on why the administration didn’t inform the public sooner when attorneys for Biden made the discovery on Nov. 2 — just six days ahead of crucial midterm elections. 

“It’s under review. I’m going to let DOJ [Department of Justice] do their process. I’m just not going to get ahead of it,” she said when asked about the documents.

“We are going to be limited in what we can say here,” she added, declining to answer a question on when Biden was briefed on the discovery.

CBS’s Ed O’Keefe got into a back-and-forth with Jean-Pierre over whether the timing of the midterm elections had anything to do with the White House keeping the discovery from being made public. CBS News was first to break the news of the discovery.

“As I am talking to you, it is under review,” Jean-Pierre said. 

O’Keefe pushed back, asking again why the documents weren’t disclosed at the time of their discovery.

“I’m going to leave you to the information that the president provided to all of you just yesterday,” she added.

O’Keefe also asked Jean-Pierre if the president had requested a national security damage assessment, as Intelligence Committee lawmakers on Capitol Hill had this week. Jean-Pierre deferred the question to the Department of Justice, which O’Keefe noted does not handle national security matters.

During the exchange, Jean-Pierre said she was seeking to avoid confrontation with reporters in the briefing room.

Biden on Tuesday addressed the matter for the first time, saying he was unaware of what documents were found and that his lawyers advised him not to seek such information. Biden also said he was surprised such records were kept there.

The White House says it is cooperating with the Justice Department regarding the review of the documents, which were found in a University of Pennsylvania office in Washington that belonged to Biden between his time as vice president and his 2020 presidential campaign.

The revelation immediately drew comparisons to an FBI search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in which federal investigators seized classified documents as part of a wider federal probe into potential mishandling of information.

Fox News’s Peter Doocy reiterated comments made by Biden after the Trump documents were seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, asking Jean-Pierre on Wednesday how anyone could be that irresponsible.

“The president spoke to this personally. He spoke to this personally,” Jean-Pierre said, pointing to Biden’s comments the day prior.

“This is under investigation, under review by the Department of Justice, and we’re going to let that process continue,” she added.

Tags Biden Biden classified documents Karine Jean-Pierre

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