‘Stray Papers’: Biden Downplays Contents of Classified Documents

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.
February 9, 2023Updated: February 9, 2023

President Joe Biden on Feb. 8 attempted to downplay the classified documents discovered at his home and former office, claiming that their contents dated back to 1974 and were simply “stray papers.”

Biden made the comments in an interview with PBS NewsHour just a day after his State of the Union address, which garnered mixed reactions from Republicans and Democrats.

The president was asked by host Judy Woodruff about comments he made in September in relation to former president Donald Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago home was raided in August, during which around 11,000 documents—some of which were marked classified—were seized by the FBI.

Biden had stated in September that possessing classified documents is “totally irresponsible,” in reference to Trump, while questioning what data was in the documents and whether or not it might compromise certain sources and methods.

“So what was totally irresponsible about the fact that you had some?” Woodruff quizzed Biden on Wednesday, to which he responded by attempting to downplay the contents of the documents, but also concluded that he is not aware of exactly what is in the materials.

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Secret Service personnel park vehicles in the driveway leading to President Joe Biden’s house after classified documents were found there by Biden’s lawyers, in Wilmington, Del., on Jan. 15, 2023. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Staffers ‘Didn’t Do the Kind of Job That Should Have Been Done’

He also shifted the blame to staffers who he said had not done a thorough job of going through paperwork from his former office.

“In the best of my knowledge, the kinds of things they picked up were things that [sic] from 1974 and stray papers. There may be something else, I don’t know,” Biden said. “But one of the things that happened is that what was not done well is, as they packed up my offices to move them, they didn’t do the kind of job that should have been done to go thoroughly through every single piece of literature that’s there. But I’ll just let the investigation … decide what’s going on and we’ll see what happens.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed Robert Hur, a former Maryland U.S. attorney, to serve as special counsel to oversee the Department of Justice inquiry into the documents and to establish whether or not Biden or those around him broke the law in their handling of the documents.

Biden told PBS on Wednesday: “They’ve informed me not to speak to this issue to anyway try to prejudice the investigation that’s going on,” before elaborating on what he believes to be key differences between himself and Trump with regard to the discovery of classified materials.

“But what I was talking about [in September] was what was laid out. All these documents were top secret, code word, and all the rest,” he claimed of the documents found at Trump’s home. Trump is currently being investigated by the DOJ.

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President Joe Biden’s Rehoboth Beach home was searched by FBI for classified documents on Feb. 1, 2023. (Lily Sun/The Epoch Times)

GOP Lawmakers to Be Briefed on Classified Materials

The president then went on to explain that he has been cooperative with officials investigating the discovery of the classified materials, telling Woodruff that he has “voluntarily” opened up his home and office for a search as part of the probe.

“I’m not at liberty and I’m not even sure, I made voluntarily—no one’s had to threaten to do anything—voluntarily opened every single aperture I have in the house, offices, everything for them to come and look and spend hours searching my home. Invited them,” Biden said of federal agents.

Classified materials dating back to Biden’s time as vice president were discovered at the Penn Biden Center in Washington on Nov. 2 just before the midterm elections but the public was not informed until two months later.

Further documents were found at one of his homes in Wilmington, Delaware and more were subsequently found later in the president’s home library.

Biden has remained relatively tight-lipped about the discovery, citing the ongoing investigation. His interview with PBS on Wednesday marked his first interview with a journalist since before the midterms.

The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability has requested that the Biden documents, along with the Trump materials, be handed over to them so that they can assess potential risks to national security arising from the mishandling of classified information.

Lawmakers on the committee are set to be briefed on the documents this week.