Bloomberg — US President Joe Biden’s efforts to end a controversy over his private possession of classified documents they got complicated after their advisers found a second batchsomething that will intensify the scrutiny of the president.
NBC News and the New York Times reported Wednesday that the records were found in a different location than the first batch. That is likely to raise tough questions for the White House and criticism from Republicans, who nonetheless dismiss more serious allegations against former President Donald Trump.
While differing approaches to finding the documents have made it difficult for Republicans to draw equivalencies, the White House will face more pressure to answer questions it has dismissed.
Aides have repeatedly refused to say why classified material dating from Biden’s time as vice president was not in the government’s possession and why the discovery of the first batch was not disclosed sooner.
The events have politically complicated the case against Trump, though Democrats have defended Biden by pointing out that his representatives immediately returned the materials upon their discovery, unlike Trump’s efforts to fight their return.
However, Biden’s criticism of Trump for being “totally irresponsible” in storing classified material at his Mar-a-Lago estate has opened the incumbent president to new charges of hypocrisy. He has also led Republicans to investigate the president using the powers of his new majority in the House of Representatives.
The Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James Comer announced Tuesday that the panel was looking into the matter.writing in a letter to White House counsel that it was only appropriate given Biden’s comments about the importance of protecting classified material.
“The committee is concerned that President Biden has jeopardized sources and methods with his own misuse of classified documents,” Comer wrote.
The second batch of documents was discovered in a different location related to Biden after his lawyers found the first batch of classified material in a locked cabinet at the Biden Center office at the University of Pennsylvania. The White House said those documents were returned within hours to the National Archives, but the contents and fate of the second set were unclear.
It was also unclear when the second batch was discovered, or whether it represents the entirety of the classified material that appears to have been improperly removed by the time Biden concluded his term as vice president.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment.
At a press conference in Mexico City on Tuesday, Biden said he was surprised to learn that classified documents had been found in that office.
“But I don’t know what’s in the documents,” the president added.
Earlier on Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre He repeatedly declined to answer questions about what efforts the administration was making to ensure all classified material had been found, or whether Biden’s Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, residences had been searched. He also declined to answer why the lawyers were involved in packing up the Biden Center office.
Jean-Pierre, pointing to a Justice Department investigation, also declined to answer questions about why the White House waited months to acknowledge the first discovery, only doing so after a CBS News report.
“I understand the question, but there is a process underway,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “It is being reviewed by the Department of Justice. When it is appropriate for us to say more, we will.”
Republican lawmakers have questioned the decision to delay disclosure of the discovery, suggesting a political motivation and noting that the documents were discovered by Biden’s lawyers less than a week before the November midterm elections.
“Why didn’t the Department of ‘Justice’ announce the Highly Classified documents found in Biden’s Office before the Election? Trump said in a social media post about him this week.
Trump is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department over classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago after his representatives reportedly told the government he was no longer in possession of classified material.
–With help from Chris Strohm.
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