The White House spokesman in charge of the ongoing scandal over President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents lashed out at reporters who asked him to answer questions in public on Monday, accusing them of trying to “stir up controversy to get attention or time on camera.”
“I certainly tried to give all of you in the press corps access to the information you need,” Ian Shams said on a press call. “I’ve taken your questions a few times, I’ve been available for media interviews.
“In every presidency, you know, there’s a lot of people out there in the media trying to stir up controversy to get attention or camera time,” added Shams, who has served as a spokesman for the White House counsel’s office. House. since the scandal broke on January 9 with the revelation that sensitive documents were found in Biden’s abandoned office at the Penn Biden Center think tank in Washington.
Since then, the White House press corps has been in a state of near-open rebellion — as press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refers most questions from reporters about the controversy to the White House counsel’s office or the Justice Department.
In previous briefings, reporters’ frustration with the administration has reached a boiling point, with reporters asking “What is the White House trying to hide?” and accuse Jean-Pierre of presiding over an “information blackout”.
The pointed questions continued during Monday’s press conference, with Jean-Pierre asking at one point: “Why should the American people believe that this President takes classified material and handling it seriously?”
Another reporter asked: “The President said last week that he has no regrets when it comes to handling classified documents. Why hasn’t he regretted the classified documents that keep coming up?’
“When you found out that the FBI had located even more classified material in Wilmington, what four-letter word did you use?” asked Fox News reporter Peter Ducey brazenly.
The most persistent request from the media was for someone from the White House counsel’s office — usually Richard Sauber, the special counsel to Biden hired to respond to anticipated inquiries from congressional Republicans — to appear in the briefing room and to answer questions with the cameras. So far, management has refused to make anyone available outside of Sams.
“We’ve tried to give you public information as appropriate,” Shams told reporters Monday. “…But I think the American people see it for what it is, which is for the president to respect the appropriate entity that is conducting an investigation and to make sure that it has the independence that it needs to conduct that investigation.”
From the beginning, the scandal was treated in relative obscurity. Although documents were found at the Penn Biden Center six days before the 2022 midterm elections, the administration took two months to make the discovery public after CBS News reported their existence.
Since then, the White House has reportedly disclosed that classified documents were discovered in multiple searches of Biden’s personal home in Wilmington, Del., with the latest admission coming Saturday, a day after federal investigators searched the premises for 13 hours.
During Monday’s call, Shams declined to answer several other questions, including how many pages of documents were found and what topics the papers covered.