The classified documents found at Joe Biden’s former office and private residence were “inadvertently misplaced,” a White House lawyer said Thursday, insisting the United States President would “cooperate” with a special counsel appointed to investigate the matter.
“We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the President and his lawyers acted promptly upon discovery of this mistake,” Richard Sauber, senior advisor to the White House Counsel’s Office, said in a statement, according to AFP.
This is coming after Biden had said Tuesday he was unaware of the contents of the classified documents from his time as vice president, found at a Washington think tank.
“I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn there were any government records that were taken there to that office. But I don’t know what’s in the documents,” he told reporters during a press conference after the North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City.
Attorney General Merrick Garland had assigned the US attorney in Chicago to review the documents marked classified that were found at the Penn Biden Centre for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.
The roughly 10 documents are from President Biden’s vice-presidential office at the centre, sources told CBS News, which had also learned the FBI was also involved in the US attorney’s inquiry.
Biden had also said Tuesday, “We’re cooperating fully with the review,” Biden said, adding he hoped it would be completed soon.”
Biden’s special counsel Richard Sauber had said on Monday that the president’s lawyers discovered the documents last November while clearing out the office space and handed them over to the National Archives, which handles all such materials.
He described it as “a small number of documents with classified markings” that were found in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Centre, a think tank affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.
“The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry” and since handing them over, Biden’s attorneys have also cooperated “to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives,” he said.
In August, authorities searched ex-president Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago after he failed to respond to repeated requests for cooperation on retrieving documents taken from the White House after his 2020 election loss.
The FBI found thousands of government documents, including more than 100 that were marked classified, and some marked top secret in the ex-president’s Florida club. Subjects covered in the documents reportedly included sensitive intelligence on China and Iran, and nuclear secrets.