WH: We Won’t Say How Biden Ended up with Documents Because DOJ Will Answer That

On Monday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” White House Spokesman for Oversight and Investigations, Special Assistant to President Joe Biden, and Senior Advisor to the White House Counsel’s Office Ian Sams refused to answer questions on how President Joe Biden ended up having classified documents because people at the Department of Justice are “going to be the ones to answer these questions” and they don’t want to interfere in the DOJ’s investigation by answering how Biden ended up with the documents.

Co-host Mika Brzezinski asked, “As you just heard from Congressman Schiff (D-CA), it’s sort of unusual to leave a SCIF with anything that is classified, take home classified documents. How did this happen?”

Sams responded, “Look, I think you’ve heard the President speak to this, you’ve heard the President’s personal attorneys speak to this. The President takes this seriously, and that’s why he’s fully cooperating with the Department of Justice. We’re following DOJ’s lead throughout this investigation, making sure that they have access to the information that they need to conduct an efficient and thorough review. That’s why the President and his lawyers offered up access — unprecedented access, I should add — to every single room of the President’s personal home to ensure that any documents that need to be properly in possession of the government are taken and are in proper possession of the government. So, from the very beginning, when the team first discovered materials, they’ve handled this the right way. They’ve handled it responsibly with the proper authorities, first with the National Archives, then with the Department of Justice. And that may be a contrast to what we’ve seen in the last few years. But this is a President who believes in the rule of law, a President who understands the importance of an independent Justice Department, and so he’s giving them access to the information they need to conduct a thorough review, and the DOJ, at the end of this review, will be able to present the full set of facts.”

Brzezinski then followed up, “Okay, so I get — it didn’t answer my question really, but I agree, it’s been handled completely differently. There’s a big contrast to the Mar-a-Lago documents. Put that aside for a second. How could this happen, and do you agree, having classified documents outside of where they should be is a serious issue?”

Sams answered, “Yeah. Look, the President takes this very seriously, as you heard him say multiple times in the last week. And I understand the question about how this happened. And I think it’s really important to understand that’s exactly the type of thing a Justice Department investigation would be looking at. And so, when you appropriately believe in the independence of a Justice Department to be able to conduct investigations free from undue influence and interference, that this President has committed [to], going all the way back to the campaign, that is why we’re deferring to the Justice Department to answer some of these questions. They’re going to be tasked with finding all of the facts, putting it all together, understanding exactly what happened, asking the questions. That’s appropriate. That’s why we’re fully cooperating, to understand how this happened. And the President –.”

Co-host Joe Scarborough then cut in to ask, “But wait, doesn’t the President know? Does the DOJ need to tell the President why the President has classified documents in his home? I don’t understand that.”

Sams responded, “Joe, I understand the question. And I think it’s really just — gets to the heart of the matter. The DOJ is the one who’s tasked with finding out all of the facts here and the DOJ’s going to ask questions and the DOJ’s going to seek information. And we’re being fully cooperative with that process. We hope that that process moves forward thoroughly and efficiently so that we can get all the answers out there. And so, we’re just going to be respectful. I think it’s more appropriate for questions about the underlying investigation to be addressed by the Justice Department, but, again, we’re going to offer up full cooperation and ensure that they have access to what they need.”

Brzezinski then asked, “Okay, Ian, the question, though, I’m sort of stuck on here is, I understand that there is an investigation, there’s a limit to what you can say and all that, but there are obvious possibilities here as to how in the world this could have happened. Are there any that you can share with us?”

Sams answered, “Well, again, I understand you’re asking these questions, but we want to be very careful to respect the investigation of the DOJ. And look, they’re going to ask these questions. They’re going to be the ones to answer these questions and to provide information on it. And we want to make sure that we respect that process as it plays out.”

Sams later stated, “[I]t’s important that the full set of facts be gathered by the Justice Department and then presented publicly so that people can understand all of these details. That is the job of the Justice Department, an independent, strong Justice Department to do.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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