APTOS, Calif. (AP) — A frustrated President Joe Biden said Thursday that he was “not there” as he continued to be questioned about the discovery of classified documents. and official records at his home and former office.
“We discovered that some documents were misfiled,” Biden told reporters during a tour of California who questioned him about storm damage. “We immediately turned them over to the archives and the Department of Justice.”
Biden said he was “fully cooperating and looking forward to this being resolved as soon as possible.”
“I think you’ll find there’s nothing there,” he said. “Not there.”
The White House released Biden lawyers have discovered classified documents and official records on four occasions in recent months — on November 2 at the offices of the Ben Biden Center in Washington, and then on December 20 in the garage of the president’s home in Wilmington. , Delaware and on January 11 and 12 at the President’s Home Library.
The finding complicates the federal investigation into former President Donald Trump, who took hundreds of classified records with him when he left the White House in early 2021 and resisted months of demands to return them to the government, the Justice Department says.
Both cases are different – Biden, for example, willingly turned over documents once they were available. But the issue rests with 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 even as key questions remain unanswered.
Attorney General Merrick Garland Last week, former Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hurr served as special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the documents. Garland said the extraordinary circumstances warranted a special counsel, and he made the decision in part to show the Justice Department’s “commitment to both independence and accountability on particularly sensitive matters.”
Hurr will take over from federal prosecutor John Lasch, who was initially asked to review the documents, and whose team has already interviewed former Biden aides responsible for unsealing the boxes during his time as vice president. Those interviews included Cathy Chung, who served as an administrative assistant at the time, and a person familiar with the matter spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Biden expressed frustration that documents matter when examining coastal storm damage. He told reporters that being asked about the handling of even classified materials in California “we have a serious problem here.”
“Why didn’t you question me about that?” He pressed on.
Biden’s team faced criticism For its fragmentary revelations — the documents weren’t made public until early January, and additional findings slowly trickled out after that. This occasionally led to heated exchanges between reporters and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. He ran into trouble last Friday when he suggested all the documents had been recovered, and additional discovery was released over the weekend.
Biden said Thursday that he has “no regrets” about how and when the public learned about the documents.
“I’m just following what the lawyers told me,” he said.
Long report from Washington. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.