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- President Joe Biden said he was “surprised” that classified documents were found in his old office.
- Biden also said that he did not know what the documents contained.
- His attorneys confirmed the discovery on Monday, saying they were complying with the DOJ.
President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that the news of classified documents being found in his old Pennsylvania office “surprised” him, but he and his lawyers are “cooperating fully” with the review being done by the Justice Department and the National Archives and Records Administration.
“People know I take classified information seriously,” Biden said, during a North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico.
Biden explained that, in November of 2022, when his lawyers were cleaning out his old office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy & Global Engagement, documents with classified markings were unexpectedly located. Biden worked at the center, run by the University of Pennsylvania, from 2017 to 2019.
The Washington Post reported roughly 10 documents were found in the office space, citing a person familiar with the investigation.
“They immediately called the Archives, immediately called the Archives, turned them over to the Archives,” Biden said, “and I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.”
The President also said that he is unaware of what information the documents contained, and was advised by lawyers not to ask.
A source familiar with the matter told CNN that Biden had been unaware of the documents prior to his counsel notifying him once they found them. The source also told CNN that the president is not being made aware of the contents of the documents out of an abundance of caution, fearing that letting him know would give the impression that lawyers would interfere with the Justice Department review.
—ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 10, 2023
On Monday, Richard Sauber, the special counsel to President Biden confirmed the discovery of the documents, saying that the documents “were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives.”
Former President Donald Trump, currently under investigation by the Justice Department after dozens of classified documents were discovered in his Mar-a-Lago home by the FBI, took to Truth Social to call for similar scrutiny against Biden.
However, Bradley P. Moss, a national security lawyer, told Insider’s Charles Davis that the two instances were not comparable, pointing out that Trump held onto classified documents even after being asked to return them.
The White House did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.