Biden's Lawyers Accused of Worsening His Classified Mess

It leaves the impression White House hasn't been candid, writes columnist Jennifer Rubin
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2023 2:38 PM CST
Biden's Team Accused of Bungling the Classified Story
President Biden waves before boarding Air Force One at Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The controversy over the discovery of classified documents at President Biden's residence and at an old office continues to percolate. Even as the White House accuses Republicans of misconstruing the facts and having "no credibility" on the issue, the president's legal team is coming under heavy criticism for its handling of the whole affair. Coverage:

  • At the Washington Post, columnist Jennifer Rubin writes that two things can be true at once: Biden committed no crime, but "his lawyers' failure to conduct a thorough, proactive search created the appearance that the president was not being candid or cooperative." She wonders what his lawyers were doing in the weeks after the initial discovery in November, which wasn't immediately announced, and why the story has since come out in "drips and drabs."

  • A CNN analysis whose headline refers to "unforced errors" quotes former Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who faults Biden special counsel Richard Sauber for his initial statement on all this. "Once you make a statement, once you have the facts, you have to be full and complete," he says. "They weren’t full and complete. They talked about the first [batch of documents] but not the second [batch] even though they knew about it."
  • All this has given Republicans an avenue, and Axios predicts a "prolonged" GOP investigation on top of the ongoing Justice Department inquiry. Expect Republicans to request a list of all the people who were screened to visit Biden's residence.
  • GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, head of the judiciary committee, posed a series of question to Fox News. "Why was President Trump’s home raided but not President Biden’s? Why did the FBI take pictures of President Trump’s so-called classified documents but not President Biden’s? Republicans just want fair and equal treatment under the law." One distinction may be that Biden's actions could prove to have been inadvertent—which Rubin points out is not illegal—in contrast with Trump's. Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she doesn't think Biden or aides took any classified documents on purpose, per Fox. "But it's certainly embarrassing, right?"
  • On Tuesday, a spokesman for the White House Counsel's Office reiterated what the White House has said previously about the incomplete release of information. Ian Sams cited the "tension between protecting and safeguarding the integrity of an ongoing investigation with providing information publicly appropriate with that," per CNN. "In any investigation, as an investigation is ongoing, especially an investigation where people are cooperative and are working hand-in-hand with the department to review these matters, information is going to develop," he said. "That’s a natural part of any investigation."
(Read more classified information stories.)

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