Biden’s Ghostwriter Deleted Audio Tapes, Transcript Confirms

Mark Zwonitzer says he was concerned about being hacked.
Biden’s Ghostwriter Deleted Audio Tapes, Transcript Confirms
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Kempsville Recreation Center in Virginia Beach, Va., on Feb. 28, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber
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President Joe Biden’s ghostwriter deleted audio recordings from his interviews because he was concerned that he would be hacked and the audio would be widely circulated, according to a newly released transcript.

“I was very concerned about the possibility of being hacked. I was very concerned about the possibility of this audio spread all over the place,” Mark Zwonitzer, the ghostwriter, told special counsel Robert Hur’s team on July 31, 2023.

Mr. Zwonitzer said his primary concern centered on “a lot of personal and emotional stuff about Beau,” President Biden’s deceased son, according to the heavily redacted transcript, which was obtained and released by The Heritage Foundation.

Mr. Hur, who was appointed to probe President Biden’s handling of classified documents, said in his final report that Mr. Zwonitzer deleted the recordings of discussions for the book “Promise Me, Dad,” even though the recordings “had significant evidentiary value.”

Prosecutors considered charging Mr. Zwonitzer but ultimately decided not to, in part because he handed over his computer and hard drive to investigators, who were able to recover the deleted recordings.

The transcript provides more details on how Mr. Zwonitzer handled the recordings, as well as what he told investigators about President Biden broaching the topic of classified materials.

Mr. Zwonitzer said that it’s his practice to delete all tapes he records after making transcripts of them. But he also said that he still has files from projects he carried out in 2018 and 2020 that he still had not deleted.

“I don’t have a set policy or anything” with regards to how long he takes before deleting files, Mr. Zwonitzer said.

He said he deleted the tapes of his interviews with President Biden in 2023 between the end of January and the end of February. Attorney General Merrick Garland, an appointee of President Biden, appointed Mr. Hur in January 2023.

Mr. Zwonitzer said he was aware of Mr. Hur’s investigation when he deleted the recordings.

“I’m not going to say how much of the percentage it was of my motivation,” he told members of Mr. Hur’s team and FBI special agents.

Mr. Zwonitzer said he received “vaguely threatening emails” after President Biden was nominated and that he learned some of the interviews he conducted with other people had been placed on the internet without his permission. That stoked fears of being hacked, and prompted him to take the files and slide them into the trash on his computer.

Mr. Hur’s team said prosecutors declined to prosecute Mr. Zwonitzer because the ghostwriter was forthright and the available evidence would not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Zwonitzer committed any crimes. Even if evidence supported prosecution, according to prosecutors, they would not have charged the writer because of the “significant cooperation” he provided.

Biden Discusses Classified Documents

Mr. Hur was appointed to probe the classified materials case, after the former vice president acknowledged keeping documents marked classified beyond his vice presidency.

In one Feb. 16, 2017, interview, Mr. Zwonitzer said the then-former Vice President Biden was reading from one of his journals when he said he needed to be careful “because he was worried that there was a possibility that some of this stuff could be classified,.”

President Biden would often read verbatim from his journals during the interviews, the writer said. When Mr. Zwonitzer asked to make photocopies of certain pages, President Biden refused.

“He declined that offer diplomatically but adamantly. It was clear these were personal journals and he didn’t want them out of his possession,” Mr. Zwonitzer said.

During the same interview, President Biden also said, “I think I found something downstairs,” the writer said. That document “had classified markings on it,” Mr. Zwonitzer said.

Mr. Hur said in his report that President Biden in 2017 said he had “found all the classified stuff downstairs” in Virginia, where the interview with Mr. Zwonitzer took place, and that the classified materials contained information about Afghanistan. Agents found those same documents in President Biden’s garage in Delaware in 2022.

President Biden never showed Mr. Zwonitzer any classified materials, according to the ghostwriter.

While Mr. Hur concluded that President Biden retained and disclosed classified documents after exiting the White House, Mr. Hur also opted not to charge President Biden because jurors might not convict him if the case was taken to trial.

“Several defenses are likely to create reasonable doubt as to such charges. For example, Mr. Biden could have found the classified Afghanistan documents at his Virginia home in 2017 and then forgotten about them soon after,” Mr. Hur said. “This could convince some reasonable jurors that he did not retain them willfully.”