McCarthy says he thinks Biden knew his office had classified documents

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday argued President Biden knew his private office had classified documents, or he wouldn’t have had his attorneys remove things from his office.

“I think if you call a lawyer to remove something for your office, he must have known ahead of time,” McCarthy said. “So, I think he has a lot of answers to the American public. The good thing about that is the American public has a Congress that can get the answers.”

The remarks came at McCarthy’s first press conference as Speaker in response to a question from the conservative One America News Network about whether McCarthy had ever used a lawyer or an attorney to clean out his office.

“No, I used my hands on my own,” McCarthy said.

Republicans have seized on the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s office and his Wilmington residence garage to argue there’s been a double standard over how former President Trump’s classified documents controversy has been handled.

Biden has expressed surprise at the fact that classified documents were found at his private office. He has also emphasized that his team has worked to get the found documents to the appropriate parties.

Attorney General Merrick Garland after McCarthy spoke announced he was appointing a special counsel on the matter.

White House Spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement on Thursday that the White House is confident a special counsel review “will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced.”

Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a statement on Monday that a “Obama-Biden Administration records, small number of documents with classified markings” were found on Nov. 2, 2022, while preparing for a move.

“The documents were discovered when the President’s personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closed to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.,” Sauber said in a statement on Monday.

“The discovery of these documents was made by the President’s attorneys. The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives,” Sauber said. 

The documents were turned over to the National Archives the next day, and White House is cooperating with the Archives and the Department of Justice, Sauber said.

On Thursday, Sauber said that “additional Obama-Biden Administration records with classified markings” were found in the garage at Biden’s Wilmington, Del. residence, as part of a “process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in possession of the Archives.”

Democrats have said Trump did not cooperate to return classified documents to the National Archives. The FBI ultimately conducted a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence last year.

McCarthy on Thursday dismissed Trump’s resistance to returning the documents to the National Archives, as had been documented in legal filings.

“They knew the documents were there. They actually asked President Trump to put another lock on so they were locked in. You look at President Biden, he wasn’t president. He was vice president, held these in different locations right out in the open,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy asked why there are no publicly released photos of the documents found in Biden’s files, in reference to a photo of top secret documents found in Mar-a-Lago that was included in a Justice Department filing. And he criticized Biden for not publicly disclosing discovery of the documents before the midterm elections.

“He knowingly knew this happened going into [the] election, going into interviews. This is what makes America not trust their government,” McCarthy said. “You cannot have one form of law because somebody philosophically has a different opinion than you. And you can’t use the Justice Department to go after people that are politically different, as well. It has to be equal across.”

This story was updated at 2:16 p.m.

Tags Biden Biden Classified Documents Donald Trump Donald Trump Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy

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