Biden on decision not to publicly reveal discovery of classified documents earlier: ‘I have no regrets’ | CNN Politics



President Joe Biden said Thursday that he has “no regrets” over not revealing earlier that classified documents had been discovered at his private office in November.

“We’re fully cooperating, looking forward to getting this resolved quickly,” Biden said following remarks on the ongoing recovery efforts in California following recent storms. “I think you’re gonna find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets. I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do – that’s exactly what we’re doing. There’s no there, there.”

The comments are Biden’s first public remarks in a week on the classified documents found at his private Washington, DC, office and Wilmington, Delaware, home. The president’s comment reflects what his White House is saying publicly and privately – not getting into the specific details of the case and pledging full cooperation but largely downplaying the political effects of the probe, which Biden and his inner circle see as another storm that will pass.

Special counsel Robert Hur is investigating how the president and his team handled Obama-era classified documents that were recently found in Biden’s private possession. The first documents were found on November 2 but not publicly revealed until last week when CBS first reported their existence.

Since then, other documents have been found at Biden’s home in Wilmington.

It’s an issue that has frustrated Biden behind closed doors and that feeling spilled out into public view on Thursday. Before answering a reporter’s question about the matter, the president vented over the persistent questions that have followed him over the last two weeks.

“You know what, quite frankly, bugs me is that we have a serious problem here we’re talking about,” Biden said, referring to the storm damage. “We’re talking about what’s going on and the American people don’t quite understand why you don’t ask me questions about that. But having said that, what’s your question?”

Biden was in California after unrelenting storms that have turned neighborhoods into lakes, crippled highways and forced tens of thousands of evacuations statewide.

At least 20 people have died as a result of the storms, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said Monday.

Biden amended the California disaster declaration on Thursday morning to account for 100% of federal costs associated with response and recovery. The previous declaration, signed Saturday, accounted for 75% of costs.

The last time Biden spoke in public about the classified documents was last week following a speech on the economy. His remarks came after the White House counsel’s office said in a statement that Biden’s aides located documents with classified markings at two locations inside his Wilmington home. The documents were located in a storage area in Biden’s garage and an adjacent room, the statement reads. Biden frequently spends weekends at the home, located in a wealthy, wooded enclave on a lake.

Biden at the time said the documents were in a “locked garage.”

“It’s not like they’re sitting out on the street,” he insisted when a reporter asked why he was storing classified material next to a sports car.

The president said he was going “to get a chance to speak on all of this, God willing, soon.”

However, the White House has largely locked down its public communications on the probe, deferring to the White House Counsel’s Office and the Department of Justice.

CNN reported earlier this week that White House officials will no longer definitively say no other documents will be found. Explicit statements that the search for documents is complete have been pared back, in part as an acknowledgment that the special counsel’s team may conduct more of their own.

Biden “has confidence” in his team, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday as she continued to avoid answering a series of outstanding questions on the matter, citing the ongoing investigation.

“The president and his team rightfully took action when they learned that the documents existed, they reached out to the archives, they reached out to the Department of Justice.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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