Updated Jan 19, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden on classified documents: "You're going to find there's nothing there"

Photo of Joe Biden speaking while gesturing with his left hand on stage at an event

President Biden delivers remarks at the National Action Network's Martin Luther King, Jr. day breakfast in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 16, 2023. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday that the probe into classified records discovered in his former office and his Delaware home will show that "there's nothing there" and that his team followed protocol for turning them over to the appropriate government agencies.

Why it matters: The discovery has led to widespread fallout for the president, who maintains that he did not know the records were transferred.

  • The Department of Justice has since appointed former U.S. attorney Robert Hur as special counsel to investigate whether the records were improperly handled.

What he's saying: "I think you're going to find there's nothing there," Biden told reporters Thursday at a stop during his tour of storm damage in California.

  • At one point visibly frustrated, Biden said he is "fully cooperating and looking forward to getting this resolved quickly."
  • "We found a handful of documents were filed in the wrong place," he said. "We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department."

Of note: The White House has faced criticism for failing to publicly disclose the discovery of the first batch of documents, which took place in November, until January.

  • But Biden, who expressed frustration that reporters were asking about the records and not the storm damage, said Thursday that "I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do."

The big picture: Republicans have seized on the records to accuse Biden of hypocrisy, citing the way the federal government has handled the probe into former President Trump's stash of classified materials at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

  • Biden had criticized Trump in September for having classified documents at his personal residence. "How one — anyone could be that irresponsible," he told CBS News' "60 Minutes."
  • However, the two cases differ in several ways. It was Biden's attorneys who discovered the documents and notified the Archives. Trump, on the other hand, did not turn over all of the records in his possession until the FBI executed a search warrant in August.

What to watch: GOP lawmakers have vowed to unleash a torrent of investigations. Some Democrats are also calling for an assessment from the intelligence community to determine any possible risk of exposure.

  • It's worth noting that the DOJ has a fairly high standard for prosecuting those who mishandle sensitive government documents.

Go deeper: 4 factors that guide prosecutions for mishandling classified documents

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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