WASHINGTON: The latest discovery of classified material at Joe Biden’s home in WilmingtonDelaware, highlights the long-term political and legal risk to the president of a fast-moving investigation that could yield further damaging revelations.
Disclosure after disclosure this week of sensitive papers at Biden’s office and private residence has embarrassed and undermined the president, his lawyers and spokespersons, who argued they were treating him by the book. Although they said they took appropriate precautions, promptly informed the government and arranged for the documents to be returned, they say they must weigh disclosures to the public against legal considerations.
But the decision to wait more than two months, after the midterm elections, to release the initial discovery of classified documents has stoked criticism of the president’s commitment to transparency which has only grown since then. that Biden and his team stumbled the following week.
Statements by the president, his lawyers and his spokespersons who omitted key details – including information later revealed in subsequent news reports or statements – have intensified the impression that the White House has something to hide. . And the steady stream of revelations has knocked Republican dysfunction on Capitol Hill off the headlines while providing a lifeline for former President Donald. Assetwho is under criminal investigation for his own manipulation of classified documents.
The president’s messaging difficulties are likely to recur and worsen as newly appointed special counsel Robert Hur begins to investigate the circumstances that led to the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s home and in a old office. Republicans are certain to seize on any impropriety by Biden or his aides, in a bid to both embarrass the president and protect Trump, who is under investigation for refusing to return property. greater number of classified government documents.
With Trump already in the running, Biden and his aides face a political crisis ahead of the president’s planned launch of his 2024 re-election campaign and after recent political victories silence his party’s doubters.
“Well, that sure is embarrassing, isn’t it?” Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat who is not seeking re-election in 2024, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s one of those times when obviously they wish it hadn’t happened.”
Trump, Clinton parallels
The White House’s best bet is that its cautious, conservative approach will ultimately be vindicated. The president’s attorneys say they will cooperate fully with the special counsel’s investigation and they expect Biden to be exonerated for what they describe as innocent mistakes that were appropriately handled.
But the risk is that the case will turn in unintended directions, or that additional revelations will provide Republicans with enough ammunition to sustain a cohesive political attack. Investigations by special advocates in the past — including the probe into Trump’s campaign ties to Russia — have often exceeded a presidency. In 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server – a controversy Democrats now poke fun at with the phrase “but her emails” – may have cost her the Presidency.
The coming months will see the president and his aides inevitably face some tough questions as more information about the documents and their handling comes to light. Political pressure to provide a fuller explanation will grow, even if Biden’s attorneys resist releasing details that could complicate the special counsel’s investigation.
The key for the White House will be to avoid a performance like this week, when the president’s lawyers and spokespersons appeared to violate the cardinal rule of crisis communications: recognize the magnitude of a problem as quickly as possible.
Republican lawmakers have already seized on the first questionable move by Biden’s lawyers: not to release the existence of the first batch of classified documents closer to the time they were discovered in November, just before the midterm elections.
Incomplete search
Biden and the White House only acknowledged the documents found at the Penn Biden Center for Global Diplomacy and Engagement in Washington this week after their existence was reported by CBS News. But the president and his lawyers then made another fateful decision, choosing not to publicly reveal that a second batch of classified documents was discovered in December in the garage of his Wilmington home.
The existence of the documents — which had already been returned to the federal government — was reported Wednesday by NBC News. Biden’s legal team remained silent until the next day, when they issued a statement acknowledging the garage papers along with an additional classified document “consisting of one page ‘found’ among materials stored in an adjacent room. “.
The statement also said the president’s attorneys “completed” their Wednesday night search of Biden’s homes in Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the search was over. “You have to assume it’s over,” she said during a Thursday briefing.
This was not the case.
In fact, because Biden’s personal attorneys lacked security clearance, they halted their review on Wednesday when they discovered the classified page at Biden’s home in Wilmington. White House special counsel Richard Sauber – who has a security clearance – then flew to Wilmington the following evening to transfer the document to Justice Department officials, he said in a Saturday communicated. In the process, he uncovered five additional pages of classified documents.
“White House Biden’s secrecy in this matter is alarming,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, said in a statement on Saturday. “Equally alarming is the fact that Biden aides were going through documents knowing that a special counsel would be appointed.”
The White House did not respond to questions about the apparent discrepancy between their statements. But Bob Bauer, the president’s private attorney, said Biden’s team sought to avoid publicly identifying specific witnesses, documents or events that could complicate the special counsel’s investigation.
“The President’s personal attorneys have attempted to balance the importance of public transparency, where appropriate, with established standards and limitations necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Bauer said in a statement Saturday. “These considerations necessitate avoiding public disclosure of details relevant to the investigation while it is ongoing.”

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