- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The White House on Wednesday refused to answer why it did not publicly disclose that classified government documents had been found in a private university office in Washington that President Biden used.

The documents from the Obama era were discovered on Nov. 2, just six days before the midterm elections. The matter only became public Monday when uncovered by CBS News.

A second batch of classified documents was later found in another location by White House aides, according to an NBC News report on Wednesday.

At a contentious daily press briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stonewalled against a barrage of questions about the delay in announcing the discovery of classified documents in unsecured locations.

“I’m not going to get into details. I’m not going to get beyond what the president shared yesterday,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said, referring reporters to a statement released by the White House Counsel’s Office on Monday.

Ms. Jean-Pierre insisted the president spoke about the discovery “in detail.” But reporters weren’t having it and pushed back on her repeated refusal to answer questions.

SEE ALSO: McCarthy demands to know why Biden document discovery was withheld until after midterms

CBS News reporter Ed O’Keefe reminded Ms. Jean-Pierre that on the second day of Mr. Biden’s presidency, he urged his White House press staff to acknowledge when the president made mistakes and then correct them.

“So you are the one here talking to us about this, so let’s just remember that,” he said.

Ms. Jean-Pierre fired back: “We work very well together. We don’t need to have this conversation. Ask your question and I will answer it the best that I can. We don’t need to be contentious with me, Ed.”

He responded, “There was nothing stopping the president of the United States from disclosing the discovery of these classified documents in his former office before it was under Justice Department review, so why didn’t he disclose it?”

Later, when asked if the director of national intelligence would give a briefing about the documents to lawmakers, Ms. Jean-Pierre again referred questions to the Justice Department, though the Justice Department does not handle national security briefings.

Reporters weren’t the only ones demanding answers about why the White House failed to publicly disclose the discovery.

SEE ALSO: Comer, House GOP fire first shots in Biden family probe; Big Tech’s censorship also on the agenda

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, suggested Wednesday that the Justice Department and White House kept quiet about the discovery of the documents in order not to affect the midterm elections.

Mr. McCarthy compared revelations from a laptop computer belonging to the president’s son Hunter Biden that The New York Post revealed just weeks before the 2020 presidential election. 

An FBI investigation into the laptop’s contents, which detailed questionable business dealings, was slow-walked by FBI brass, bureau whistleblowers have alleged.

“Why does this Justice Department treat people differently?” he told reporters at the Capitol. “Every time we find something that comes out before the election dealing with Biden’s family, it’s pushed under the rug.”

Former President Donald Trump also weighed in to ask why the discovery wasn’t disclosed earlier.

“Why didn’t the ‘Justice’ Department announce the Highly Classified documents found in the Biden Office before the Election?” Mr. Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social.

Mr. Trump is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department for mishandling government documents, including many marked classified when he left office.

The documents were found in Mr. Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago during an FBI raid in early August. At the time, Mr. Biden called his predecessor “totally irresponsible” for storing the documents at his residence.

The White House confirmed Monday that classified government documents dating back to Mr. Biden’s time as vice president in the Obama White House were discovered at a Washington office building that he used when he was an honorary professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Biden told reporters on Tuesday that he wasn’t aware that the materials were in the office building and doesn’t know what information they contain.

“After I was briefed about the discovery, I was surprised to learn that there are any government records that were taken to that office,” he said at a news conference in Mexico.

The president’s personal attorneys found the documents in November when packing up files in the office, the White House said. They immediately notified the National Archives and Records Administration and turned over the materials.

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed John Lausch, the U.S. Attorney for Chicago, to review the matter.

Mr. Biden insisted his attorneys “did what they should have done” by immediately notifying the archives.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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