WASHINGTON — President Biden said Thursday he has “no regrets” about keeping the discovery of mishandled classified documents dating to his vice presidency under wraps until after last year’s midterms.
A cache of documents with classified markings was found Nov. 2 — six days before the election — inside a DC office Biden used after he left the Obama administration, but the unearthing was kept under wraps until CBS News broke the story Jan. 9.
Biden scolded a female reporter who asked him about the controversy during a trip to tour storm damage in California.
“What quite frankly bugs me is that we have a serious problem here we’re talking about,” Biden said. “We’re talking about what’s going on, and the American people don’t quite understand why you don’t ask me questions about that.”
Biden then asked for the reporter to repeat her question about whether he regretted concealing the information from the public until after ballots were cast — before launching into another reprimand.
“Hang on, OK? Look, as we found — we found a handful of documents that were failed, were filed in the wrong place. We immediately turned them over to the [National] Archives and the Justice Department. We’re fully cooperating and looking forward to getting this resolved quickly,” the president said.
“I think you’re gonna find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets. I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do. That’s exactly what we’re doing. There’s no there there. Thank you.”
The classified documents controversy snowballed last week with reports that additional sensitive material was found on Dec. 20 next to Biden’s prized classic Corvette in his Wilmington, Del., garage. Further searches last week revealed even more documents inside the home.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Robert Hur on Jan. 12 to determine if Biden or people in his orbit illegally mishandled classified documents — a development that could upend Biden’s presidency as special counsels often expand their focus into related matters.
Biden concealed the politically explosive story as Democrats, including the president himself, slammed former President Donald Trump for potentially mishandling records taken from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2021.
In a Sept. 18 interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Biden said that Trump had been “totally irresponsible” in holding on to the papers after leaving office in January 2021.
“I thought, ‘What data was in there that may compromise sources and methods?’ By that I mean names of people who helped. … And it just totally 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 a right to keep some of the files.
Many details remain unknown about Biden’s handling of documents, including how many records are implicated and whether people other than Biden had access to them.
First son Hunter Biden, who listed the Wilmington home as his residence on a 2018 background check form, regularly introduced his father to international business associates during his vice presidency and the years that followed.
Biden’s lawyers initially reportedly found 10 classified documents on Nov. 2 while clearing out his stately former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington. Some of them reportedly were marked “top secret” and deal with Iran and Ukraine.
The White House has refused to answer basic questions about the documents, frustrating journalists and leading to tense clashes 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, lacked Secret Service protection for a time after his vice presidency.
“My Corvette is in a locked garage, OK?” he told reporters. “So it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street.”