On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden made a statement regarding the discovery of classified documents in an office he once used, claiming surprise and full cooperation with the investigation. The President appeared at a joint news conference with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, where he addressed the matter and emphasized the seriousness with which he takes the classified documents.
Biden stated, "After I was briefed about the discovery, I was surprised to learn that there are any government records that were taken to that office. But I don’t know what’s in the documents." The President's legal team discovered less than a dozen classified records and immediately notified the US National Archives, turned over the materials and ensured full cooperation with the Archives and the Justice Department.
President Donald Trump's handling of classified documents
This incident has led to criticism from Republicans, as it comes after the Justice Department, under Biden's administration, launched an investigation into former Republican President Donald Trump's handling of classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
However, the cases differ significantly in the number of classified documents and the manner in which they were handled. While Biden's legal team discovered and promptly reported less than a dozen classified documents, Trump kept thousands of government documents, several hundred of them classified, at his Florida residence for more than a year after leaving the White House and did not return them immediately or willingly despite numerous requests from the National Archives.
When the Archives received 15 boxes of documents in January 2022, more than 100 had been marked as classified. Despite repeated efforts, the FBI was able to retrieve all classified records only through a court order and a visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.
During the visit, Trump's advisers returned dozens of additional classified records and confirmed that no other classified material remained at the residence. The investigation into Trump's handling of classified documents is still ongoing, with suspicions of possible obstruction of the investigation.
To prove a crime took place, investigators will need evidence showing that Trump or his associates knowingly and intentionally withheld the records and intentionally attempted to obstruct the Department's investigation in order to retrieve them.
Biden stated, "I've turned over the boxes, they've turned over the boxes to the Archives, and we are cooperating fully with the review, which I hope will be finished soon. And there'll be more detail at that time." He further added that his legal team suggested he not ask what was in the documents and that they are fully cooperating with the review process, which he hopes will be finished soon.