President Joe Biden addressed why he kept classified documents from when he was vice president during the North American Leaders' Summit in Mexico City on Tuesday.
Biden was asked about the classified documents, to which he responded: “When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania… They found some documents in a box in a locked cabinet… And as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box. They did what they should have done, they immediately called the archives, turned them over to the archives, and I was briefed about this discovery and was surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.”
“I don't know what's in the documents,” Biden continued. “My lawyers have not suggested that I ask what documents they were. I turned over the boxes, they turned over the boxes to the archives, and we're cooperating fully with the review, which I hope will be finished soon. There'll be more detail at that time.”
On Tuesday it was revealed that US intelligence briefings and memos related to topics including Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom, dated between 2013 and 2016, were among the classified documents being kept by Joe Biden from his time as vice president.
On Monday, it was announced that US Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned an attorney to review classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.
The materials were identified by personal attorneys for the president on November 2, just days before the midterm elections, according to special counsel to the president Richard Sauber. The documents were discovered when Biden's personal attorneys “were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC,” Sauber said in a statement.
The documents were reportedly in a folder inside of a box along with other unclassified documents.
Sauber said that the White House counsel's office notified the National Archives on Nov 2 when the materials were discovered.
“The discovery of these documents was made by the President's attorneys,” Sauber said. “The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives. Since that discovery, the President's personal attorneys have cooperated with the Archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives.”
Former President Donald Trump had his Mar-a-Lago residency raided by the FBI over similar accusations of bringing unclassified files back with him once leaving office. Trump responded to the news on Truth Social, saying “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified.”
US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch was assigned by Garland to investigate how the documents arrived at the Penn Biden Center. The AG will determine whether further investigation is necessary.