President Joe Biden believes it’s important to properly handle classified documents, the White House said on Aug. 31 after U.S. officials released a photograph showing documents marked classified at former President Donald Trump’s resort.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the investigation into Trump, describing it as an independent Department of Justice probe.
But she said that Biden “believes … in the importance of properly handling classified materials.”
Biden told reporters last week that it’s appropriate in some circumstances for a president to take classified documents home with them.
“Depending on the circumstance. For example, I have, in my home, a cabined-off space that is completely secure. I’m taking home with me today’s PDB. It’s locked. I have a person with me—military with me. I read it, I lock it back up, and give it to the military,” he said.
PDB stands for presidential daily brief.
Biden also declined to comment when presented with Trump’s claim that he declassified all the documents that FBI agents seized from Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.
The photograph, included in a court filing, shows documents marked top secret and secret at Trump’s resort.
U.S. officials say documents marked classified were among the tranche transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration from Mar-a-Lago in January, that more documents marked classified were given to FBI agents who went to the resort in June, and that the raid in August uncovered even more such documents.
They say Trump may have violated several laws, including one governing the handling of defense information.
Biden has not been briefed on the latest developments in the case, according to Jean-Pierre. “He has not been briefed on anything that’s connected to this particular criminal investigation,” she said.
According to the National Archives, White House lawyers on April 11 formally requested that the agency let FBI agents review the documents that were voluntarily transferred from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives in January.
U.S. Archivist Debra Wall also said that after Trump asserted executive privilege over the documents, Biden was consulted as to the claim.
“The Counsel to the President has informed me that, in light of the particular circumstances presented here, President Biden defers to my determination, in consultation with the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, regarding whether or not I should uphold the former President’s purported ‘protective assertion of executive privilege,'” Wall said in a letter recently made public.
Wall ultimately rejected the claim and allowed FBI agents to review the documents.