WASHINGTON — President Biden said Thursday he has “no regrets” about keeping secret the discovery of mishandled classified documents dating from his vice presidency to last year’s midterms.
A cache of classified documents was found on Nov. 2 — six days before the election — inside a D.C. office used by Biden after he left the Obama administration, but the revelation was kept under wraps until CBS News broke the story. on January 9.
Biden reprimanded a female reporter who asked him about the controversy during a trip to tour storm damage in California.
“What frankly bothers me is that we have a serious problem here that we’re talking about,” Biden said. “We’re talking about what’s going on and the American people don’t quite understand why you’re not asking me questions about it.”
Biden then asked the reporter to repeat her question about whether he regretted withholding the information from the public until the ballots were cast — before moving on to another rebuke.
“Wait, okay? Look, as we found — we found a handful of documents that had failed, had been filed in the wrong place. We immediately turned it around [National] Archives and Department of Justice. We are fully cooperating and look forward to getting this resolved quickly,” the president said.
“I think you’ll find there’s nothing there. I dont regret. I am following what the lawyers told me they want me to do. That’s exactly what we do. It doesn’t exist there. Thank you.”
The row over the classified documents hit last week with reports that additional sensitive material was found in December. 20 next to Biden’s prized classic Corvette in his Wilmington, Del., garage. Further searches last week revealed even more documents inside the house.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Robert Hur on Jan. 12 to determine whether Biden or people in his orbit illegally handled classified documents — a development that could upend the Biden presidency as special counsels often expand their focus on related issues.
Biden withheld the politically explosive story as Democrats, including the president himself, criticized former President Donald Trump for possible mishandling of records taken from the White House at his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2021.
In a Sept. 18 interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Biden said Trump was “completely irresponsible” in keeping the cards after he leaves office in January 2021.
“I thought, ‘What data was there that might compromise sources and methods?’ By that I mean names of people who helped. … And it’s completely irresponsible,” he said at the time.
The FBI raided Trump’s Palm Beach home on Aug. 8 to retrieve documents after the former president insisted he had the right to keep some of the records.
Many details remain unknown about Biden’s handling of documents, including how many files were involved and whether people other than Biden had access to them.
First son Hunter Biden, who listed his Wilmington home as his residence on a 2018 background check form, regularly introduced his father to international business associates during his vice presidency and in the years that followed.
Biden’s lawyers initially reportedly found 10 classified documents on Nov. 2 during a sweep of his former stately office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington. Some of them were reportedly classified as “top secret” and linked to Iran and Ukraine.
The White House has refused to answer key questions about the documents, frustrating reporters and leading to tense standoffs in the White House briefing room.
Biden last week defended his decision to store classified documents from his vice presidency in his Wilmington garage — which, unlike Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound, did not have Secret Service protection for a time after his vice presidency.
“My Corvette is in a locked garage, okay?” he told reporters. “So it’s not like they’re sitting in the street.”