Biden ‘surprised’ as govt records found at old office

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The classified documents found inside the Penn Biden Center closet are reportedly US intelligence memos and briefing materials that covered topics including Ukraine, Iran and Britain..reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden said he was “surprised” that classified documents from when he was Vice President in the former Barack Obama administration, were taken to one of his former private offices.

“I was surprised to learn there were any government records that were taken there to that office,” said Biden in Mexico City where he had a trilateral summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada.

The President said he doesn’t know “what’s in the documents” that were found in a locked closet when his attorneys were vacating office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.

The Penn Biden Center is a think tank about a mile away the White House, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and named for Biden who had served as the Vice President from January 2009 to January 2017.

White House special counsel Richard Sauber issued a statement on Monday, saying that Biden periodically used this space from mid-2017 until the start of his 2020 presidential campaign.

This discovery of “what appears to be Obama-Biden Administration records, including a small number of documents with classified markings” was made in early November of 2022, according to the statement.

“They found some documents in a box in a locked cabinet, or at least a closet. And as soon as they did, they realised there were several classified documents in that box,” Biden said on Tuesday.

The attorneys “did what they should have done” by immediately calling the National Archives, he added.

The classified documents found inside the Penn Biden Center closet are reportedly US intelligence memos and briefing materials that covered topics including Ukraine, Iran and Britain.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is said to have tasked the Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch Jr. with reviewing the matter.

Lausch was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2017 and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

Congressman James Comer, a Republican who chairs the House Oversight Committee, told CNN that he plans to press the National Archives, which his committee oversees, for information about the classified documents.

“President Biden has been very critical of President Trump mistakenly taking classified documents to the residence or wherever, and now it seems he may have done the same. How ironic,” Comer said.

The development comes as the Department of Justice is also investigating Trump’s handling of a trove of classified documents seized from his estate in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, by federal agents in the summer of 2022

Federal investigators have recovered at least 325 classified documents from Trump as part of their inquiry.

In a post on his social media app, Truth Social, the former President responded to the news and said: “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?”

The Presidential Records Act requires all presidential and vice-presidential documents to be turned over to the National Archives.

The classified materials included some top-secret files with the ‘sensitive compartmented information’ designation, also known as SCI, which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources, reported CNN.

Notably, classified documents were similarly found outside the National Archives last summer when the FBI seized boxes of records from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

The Department of Justice is investigating Trump for his handling of classified information, though Trump has claimed that presidents can declassify documents “even by thinking about it.”

It’s unclear if any investigation will be launched based on the discovery of records in the private office Biden used.

The National Archives and the Department of Justice did not immediately return requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Trump weighed in Monday on his social media site, asking, “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?”

Republicans have just taken control of the House of Representatives and are promising to launch widespread investigations of Biden’s administration.

The revelation also may complicate the Justice Department’s consideration of whether to bring charges against Trump, who is trying to win back the White House in 2024 and has repeatedly claimed the department’s inquiry into of his own conduct amounted to “corruption.”

The National Archives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. Spokespeople for Garland and Lausch declined to comment.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, said Monday that the American public deserved to know earlier about the classified documents.

“They knew about this a week before the election, maybe the American people should have known that,” Jordan told reporters. “They certainly knew about the the raid on Mar-a-Lago 91 days before this election, but nice if on November 2, the country would have known that there were classified documents at the Biden Center.”

Jordan is among House Republicans pushing for the creation of a “select subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal government” within the Judiciary Committee.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the White House didn’t disclose the discovery of the documents or the DOJ review sooner. CBS was first to report Monday on the discovery of the potentially classified documents.

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