Biden didn't "self-report" classified-material mishandling -- he got caught

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Have you heard the media report that the difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on classified document mishandling is that Biden “self-reported” it? That narrative started early and has endured over the last two weeks. Yesterday on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell declared, ““Everything we know about the Biden case is because of Biden cooperation. Every single thing”:


SCARBOROUGH: “And Lawrence — Lawrence I’m sure you agree with me on this point. The fact that Joe Biden has documents, the fact that they’re — you know, they — he opened up his house, and it’s nothing like — so far nothing like — like the Trump document case. That — that shouldn’t confuse Merrick Garland, that shouldn’t confuse the DoJ, they should still be able to hold these two separate cases in separate silos and still charge Donald Trump, if Donald Trump’s case, justifies charging him regardless of what Joe Biden did.”

O’DONNELL: “Yeah, and everything we know about the Biden case is because of Biden cooperation. Every single thing —“



O’DONNELL: “— we know about it, including this last weekend’s discovery, where the Biden lawyers, in — in talking to the Justice Department said, listen, should we do more, and — and the details of the search, the Biden’s search are really important. This last search, they searched the bathrooms, they searched every single room of the house. That did not happen —“

SCARBOROUGH: “They opened up the entire house. They opened up the entire house for searching.”

Right? Actually … not so much, as Andrew McCarthy reminds us at The Hill. The White House certainly made it seem as though they self-reported the violation and offered complete transparency, and the media gleefully embraced that. But how exactly did this begin, and just how cooperative was Biden and his team? Not nearly as much as they claim:


First, the Penn Biden Center did not open until February 2018. Biden obviously took the documents when he left the Obama White House in January 2017, so they had to have been illegally retained at some other unauthorized location for 13 months — meaning they had to have been illegally transported at least twice. Second, Biden directed his Penn Biden Center office to be packed up by his private lawyers, who did not have security clearances (and by the way, even if they had them, that would not necessarily mean they’d be authorized to review TS/SCI documents). Causing national defense information to be exposed to unauthorized persons is also a crime.

What happened next is critical: The Biden private attorney who took the lead on the first batch of documents is Patrick Moore. Moore did not report his discovery of highly classified documents retained in an unlawful place to law-enforcement — i.e., to the FBI or the Department of Justice (DOJ). He reported them to the Biden White House.

We do not know who at the White House participated in the deliberations over what to do about the classified documents discovery. What we know is that the White House did not report the discovery to law enforcement. Instead, it reported the discovery to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), an executive agency (i.e., it reports to the president) that is essentially a records repository, not a law enforcement agency.

But NARA disclosed this immediately to law enforcement — right? That would make this a full disclosure by proxy, if so. Unfortunately for the prevailing narrative, that isn’t quite true either; the archivists didn’t immediately contact the DoJ on November 2, as they should have. Law enforcement didn’t get notified until November 4, and not from the normal chain of command at NARA either. Instead, the Inspector General for NARA noticed the activity and dug into what was going on between Biden and the archivists:


NARA, like most executive agencies, has an IG’s office to keep it on the straight and narrow, including by internally investigating wrongdoing and reporting it to Congress. The IG plainly realized that the inclusion of classified materials in government records returned to NARA from a non-secure location raised the possibility of criminal misconduct, and thus had to be reported to the Justice Department — just as the archives reported potential classified-information violations to Main Justice in early 2022, when former president Donald Trump returned 15 boxes of presidential records that had been retained at Mar-a-Lago and in which the archives discovered documents bearing classification markings.

Had it not been for the IG’s notification, it is doubtful that Biden’s illegal retention of classified information would have been reported to the Justice Department at all. And there is every reason to believe the public would never have been told.

One has to wonder whether Biden’s team hoped to quietly put the records back into the archives without ever having the mishandling come to light. And if that was the case, one has to wonder whether the NARA archivists hoped for the same thing. But at that point, Biden and the White House became totally transparent, right? Child, please. Back to Andy McCarthy:

Yet, when the White House conceded on Jan. 9 that Biden had retained documents, it concealed the Dec. 20 garage documents — i.e., it confirmed only what CBS had reported about the Nov. 2 Penn Biden Center documents.

Obviously, the White House hoped that no one would find out about the second discovery in the Wilmington garage. But then CBS’s Jan. 9 report was quickly followed by press reports about the documents found in the garage, as well as yet a third set of classified documents found in Biden’s Wilmington home (in his den) on Jan. 12.


Biden and his team did their level best to keep this quiet. They’re just very incompetent at their jobs, from the top down. In fact, that may be Biden’s best and only defense, which is that he’s too incompetent to know how to handle classified material, despite being around it for the last five decades. Otherwise, Biden might be forced to answer questions like one Jim Geraghty raised a few days ago, which is why this only got discovered now:

Richard Sauber, special counsel to President Biden, said last Monday that “The documents were discovered when the president’s personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the” Penn Biden Center.

But that explanation only raises more questions. Why were Biden’s closest and most trusted aides — covered by attorney-client privilege — preparing to vacate office space at a center named after him? Who decided that the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement was not a good place to store documents from Biden’s time as vice president, and why? …

The center opened in February 2018, and yet Biden’s team was vacating the space by November 2022. What happened? Back in November 2020, the university told the Inquirer, “The center was always intended to continue even after Biden moved on.”

The desire to go through boxes of old documents before moving them indicates some interruption of the usual bureaucratic inertia. Nobody goes through boxes of old government papers for fun; someone was looking for something. In fact, CNN reported, apparently these boxes had moved from one office to another several times, without anyone going through them and noticing the classified papers.


No one has answered that question. In fact, few in the media have even conceived it, let alone posed this basic query for the White House to answer. The media has until now happily parroted the White House talking points in their desire to pretend that a vast difference exists between Biden and Trump in their classified-material scandals, when the only difference is scale — and we still can’t be sure there’s much difference there, either. How much more remains to be found, and how far back do these materials go? Recent reports that Biden hoarded classified material from his Senate days essentially negates all of Biden’s defenses, as senators do not have special storage or custody authorization for executive-branch classified material.

Even Senate Democrats are flummoxed on both the how and the why of that issue:


And finally, everyone remains tight-lipped as to the nature and topics this classified material covered. There have been vague admissions that some related to Ukraine, which coincidentally or not, was a place of great commercial interest for the Bidens. Did they use that material for personal profit? No one’s talking, especially not the Biden administration, which makes claims of transparency utterly laughable — and the media’s wholesale regurgitation of it utterly revealing.

The latest episode of The Ed Morrissey Show podcast is now up! Today’s show features:

  • What happens when a man who helped kick off the Russia-collusion craze gets arrested for … colluding with a Russian oligarch? Andrew Malcolm and I discuss the implications that has for the FBI, DoJ, and the media that swallows their narratives.
  • They also run interference for Joe Biden in his latest scandal, but for how long?
  • We also discuss how Hunter Biden might play into this scandal, why LA Story is a great film, and how to get promoted in Washington DC.

The Ed Morrissey Show is now a fully downloadable and streamable show at  SpotifyApple Podcaststhe TEMS Podcast YouTube channel, and on Rumble and our own in-house portal at the #TEMS page!

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