Biden White House faces transparency issues as documentary drama continues

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President Joe Biden continued to refuse to answer reporters’ questions about the ongoing classified document drama on Tuesday, as the White House faced questions about the transparency he has told the American public against the department. Justice.

Face-to-face with reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte earlier in the day, Biden appeared to smile as the reporter asked if he would commit to speaking with the special counsel. appointed to consider the case. Biden has yet to offer a public reaction since Attorney General Merrick Garland last week appointed Robert Hurr to investigate the mishandling of classified documents.

The White House’s struggles with admissions continued as press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre Biden struggled again at the podium as she faced questions from reporters at the first press briefing after news broke that aides had discovered five more classified documents. Jean-Pierre did not discuss it at Friday’s briefing.

The documents were discovered Thursday, according to the White House, which did not announce the discovery until Saturday.

“You stood here on Friday and you were asked about these documents about 18 times, by our count,” said Cecilia Vega, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent. “At that time, the President’s lawyers had found these additional five pages of classified documents, so when you were in the gallery on Friday, were you unaware that these documents had been found, or were you instructed to ‘stay away’?” ‘

“I came from that pulpit,” answered Jean-Pierre, who later admitted he was “uninformed” about the additional pages. “I had the information you had at the time.”

White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on January 17, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Jean-Pierre has so far referred all questions to the Ministry of Justice.

“I will continue to be cautious here. I’m going to allow this ongoing investigation — this ongoing legal process — to continue this process under the supervision of the special counsel. We will not comment here,” Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.

“Listen guys, you can ask 100 times, 200 times if you want. I’ll keep saying the same thing,” he added later. “I hear your question. This was asked. Answered. It was noted.”

Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden’s mood was “very clear,” despite reports that he was frustrated by how much the situation overshadowed his agenda.

“The president is confident. I can tell you that the president and his team did the right thing when they found out about the documents,” he said.

To help address the public relations issue, Jan Sams, a spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office, held his first conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, answering questions before Jean-Pierre’s briefing on the matter but revealing very little new information.

US President Joe Biden meets with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Oval Office of the White House on January 17, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

For the first time, Sams explained why Biden’s personal attorneys were cleaning out his office at the Penn Biden Center, saying “trusted aides” were involved “because he is the President of the United States and these are private documents.” »

Sams also faced questions about why the White House did not release the five additional sheets before the news broke Saturday morning, and did not offer a rationale for not making the information public. investigation details. He said the public could be harmed by the release of incomplete information and appeared to acknowledge that more documents could be released.

“The investigation may reveal more information,” Sams said. “It may reveal additional facts… But when you publish biased or anecdotal information… you sometimes run the risk of incomplete information being given to the public. So we understand that there are tensions here, and we’ve worked to balance those tensions, fully cooperating with the Department of Justice.”

“On Saturday, the President’s personal lawyers, the White House counsel published additional statements. We felt it was important to address the information we released earlier in the week, but we wanted to make sure you all had a full explanation of the process by now,” Sams said without acknowledging the many additional questions raised in Saturday’s statement.

While Sams or any of the president’s attorneys did not attend the White House press briefing, he issued a statement in light of the Republican attacks.

“Republicans in the House have zero credibility,” he said in a statement on Monday. “Their claims should be treated with skepticism and they should ask themselves why they are politicizing this issue and admitting that they don’t care about the underlying classified material.”

“As President Biden has repeatedly stated, he takes classified information seriously, so he immediately instructed his team to ensure the documents were returned to the government. President Biden is “doing what he needs to do and is cooperating fully with the comprehensive investigation, but House Republicans are playing politics with a crude and hypocritical attempt to attack President Biden,” Sams added.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy fired back at the White House Tuesday afternoon, calling Democrats hypocrites.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks during a press conference in Statuary Hall on the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 12, 2023.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks during a news conference in Statuary Hall on the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 12, 2023.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

“They found out that President Biden didn’t have these documents locked up, but by pressing the button that opens the garage door … they kept it secret before the election,” the Republican said. Reporters Room on Capitol Hill. . “The FBI never raided it. They never came forward and said who actually saw those documents in the garage behind the Corvette.”

McCarthy said House Republicans plan to review the special counsel’s investigation of both Trump and Biden. It comes after House Oversight Spokesman James Comer, R-Ky., said that while the White House requested visitor logs and Biden communications, investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents was not a priority.

“What concerns me is former President Trump storming Mar-a-Lago, taking security cameras, going through Melania’s closet to take pictures of documents on the floor, how are your personal attorneys different than Joe Biden?” There’s no security clearance, they can walk through, they can just look and search and see what’s there,” Comer said Sunday on CNN.

Some important questions

There are still many unanswered questions from the White House.

The main question is why the DOJ investigation was not made public until two months after the initial documents were discovered. Another prompted the president’s personal lawyers to return to his Wilmington home in November, before the midterms, and on January 11, after the discovery of the documents in December.

Reporters also asked Biden if he would sit down for an interview with the special counsel, but so far there has been no response.

Finally, the White House did not answer the question of what exactly is in the classified documents.

ABC News’ Molly Nagle and Lali Ibssa contributed to this report.

All news on the site does not represent the views of the site, but we automatically submit this news and translate it using software technology on the site, rather than a human editor.

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