New York Post, January 22, 2023
“I have no regrets,” President Joe Biden rotely read from a folder with scripted answers Thursday in California when asked about the classified-document scandal. The next day, FBI agents spent 13 hours searching his Wilmington, Del., home and found six more batches of papers with an undisclosed number of classified documents.
Gross negligence in safeguarding classified documents carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years for each offense. Biden is betting his presidency that Americans will view him as an innocent victim of paperwork circumstances — despite at least five separate discoveries of classified papers.
Biden castigated the female reporter who asked the question: “You know what, quite frankly, bugs me is that we have a serious problem here we’re talking about. . . . And the American people don’t quite understand why you don’t ask me questions about that.” Did Biden believe Americans awaited breathlessly to hear him condemn California’s excessive rainfall?
Following this scandal is like watching a sporting championship with a 30-day delay and a fuzzy video feed. The White House and Justice Department waited two months to reveal the president may have racked up federal felonies. Biden’s White House was “planning to disclose the matter only after Justice issued its all-clear” exonerating the president, according to The Washington Post. Biden’s advisers decided “to only react to what was publicly known” — i.e., what they were unable to conceal.
They and Biden “gambled that without going public, they could convince the Justice Department that the matter was little more than a minor, good-faith mistake,” The New York Times reports. Did Team Biden discover a “filed in the wrong place” exemption in the statute book?
On Thursday, Biden claimed, “We immediately turned . . . over” to the National Archives and Justice Department the classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center Nov. 2. Why was there a six-week delay for additional searches on other Biden properties?
Biden followed “no regrets” by proudly declaring, “I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do. It’s exactly what we’re doing.” Biden has no regrets about storing classified documents in his garage next to his Corvette? And since when does “following what the lawyers . . . want me to do” prove a suspect is beyond reproach — especially when the lawyers may have approved withholding information from the American public?
Biden concluded his California defense by playing the Gertrude Stein card: “There is no there there.” Except that there is a helluva lot more “there” than 10 days ago, including the appointment of special counsel Robert Hur.
Friday’s search turned up classified documents that Biden wrongfully retained from his 36 years in the Senate. In 2011, Biden donated 1,875 boxes of documents from his Senate days to the University of Delaware, which received federal subsidies to curate the collection. Biden and the university library promised to unseal the records “two years after Biden retires from public office” — as he did in 2017. But Biden and the university double-crossed Americans by announcing in 2019 that the records would stay locked away from public view until two years after Biden “retires from public life.”
The university has “not been asked to do any searches for classified documents” in that vast trove, says The Washington Post. Will those 1,875 boxes expose vastly more Biden violations of federal classified-documents law?
FBI agents were finally used for the Wilmington search but apparently have not been used to search the Penn Biden Center office — which has “has remained uncleared.” Investigative reporter Paul Sperry asks: “Hunter stored boxes of records at Hallie Biden’s house — has the FBI searched it for missing classified materials? What about Jimmy and Sara Biden’s residence?”
Will the special counsel discover any emails or texts from Biden’s White House or his lawyers seeking to suppress the scandal? If the FBI interrogates a single staffer who reveals intentional efforts to destroy or hide documents, Biden will be several circles lower in legal hell. What if there is one whistleblower or someone unwilling to take the fall for Uncle Joe? What if evidence surfaces that Biden or his family members illicitly profited from those classified stashes?
White House officials told The New York Times that Biden’s defense will rely on his “decades-long reputation for integrity and honesty.” Any such bulwark is being shot to pieces with each additional classified-document discovery.
Will Biden’s “no regrets. . . . There is no there there” enter the pantheon of disastrous presidential denials next to Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” and Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”? Or maybe the lackeys who script Biden’s denials will craft an even bigger howler this week.
James Bovard is the author of 10 books and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.