President Joe Biden may be attempting to feign ignorance over the discovery of classified documents at his former office at a University of Pennsylvania think tank, claiming to be “surprised,” but a fact he can’t dispute is the heavy connection his foreign policy team has to that office.
On Monday, it was revealed that in November, ahead of the midterm elections, classified documents were discovered at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. As more details emerged, it became apparent that at least ten of those documents pertained to Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom dated between 2013 and 2016.
After withholding comment on the matter, Biden was confronted by Colleen Long from the Associated Press during a joint news conference with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau where she asked him, “Can you explain how classified documents ended up in one of your offices? And should the public have been notified sooner?”
Bypassing another question on border security to start with the documents, the president started, “Let me get rid of the easy one first. People know I take classified documents, classified information seriously.”
Biden would go on to say that he “was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office,” but, as Fox News thoroughly detailed, at least ten current and former members of his administration had all been a part of that think tank.
Along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, White House counselor Steven Richetti and Michael Carpenter, the U.S. representative to the organization for security and cooperation in Europe, all served as managing directors of the Penn Biden Center. Other directors included Ariana Berengaut, a senior adviser to the national security adviser and former deputy secretary of state for management and resources Brian McKeon.
Senior fellows there included Spencer Boyer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO policy, and Juan Gonzalez, special assistant to the president.
Biden’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl was a strategic consultant there, as was deputy to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Jeffrey Prescott.
Rounding off the list, Carlyn Reichel was the director of communications at the think tank before becoming special assistant to Biden and senior director for speech writing & strategic initiatives. The president also selected as ambassador to Germany former University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and as ambassador to Canada, former chairman of the university’s board of trustees.
With all of those officials under his leadership, Biden still insisted during the news conference that he only just learned of the documents and said, “When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me–secure office in the Capitol, when I–the four years after being vice president I was a professor at Penn (a disputed claim.) They found some documents in a box. You know, locked cabinet, or at least a closet.”
“And as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box. And they did what they should have done. They immediately called the archives,” he offered, attempting to counter any comparison between this story and the raid conducted by the FBI at former President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago despite his similarly reported cooperation.
“Immediately called the archives, turned them over to the archives and I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office. But I don’t know what’s in the documents,” Biden claimed. “My lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I’ve turned over the boxes. They’ve turned over the boxes to the archives. And we’re cooperating fully, cooperating fully with the review, and which I hope will be finished soon. And there’ll be more detail at that time.”
For context, when the think tank opened in February 2018, Biden stated that his willingness to come aboard was influenced by an offer to bring “Serious staff people and much more than staff and they start with Tony Blinken and Steve Ricchetti and others, so thank you for allowing me to bring along some really, really bright people.”
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