WASHINGTON — The Biden administration kept silent Tuesday about whether the president would approve a search of his Senate records at the University of Delaware after even more classified documents were found Friday at his Wilmington home.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called for the search Monday after the FBI’s Friday hunt through Biden’s home turned up sensitive items dating to his Senate years in addition to even more records from his vice presidency.
The Post asked Jean-Pierre at her regular briefing for a response for Cruz’s call to pore over the roughly 1,850 boxes of Biden’s Senate papers and 415 gigabytes of electronic files that Biden gifted in 2012 to his undergraduate alma mater.
“When it comes to the documents and this ongoing legal matter, I refer you to the White House counsel’s office,” Jean-Pierre replied.
The press secretary used variants of the same answer to deflect may other journalists’ questions about the documents controversy, including a question about whether the White House has any objection to sharing Secret Service records of Biden’s Wilmington visitors with the House Oversight Committee.
The Post also repeated a request by other journalists for the White House to make available an official who could answer questions about the scandal from the briefing-room podium.
A timeline of how the Biden classified documents scandal unfolded
- Sept. 18, 2022 – Biden calls Trump “totally irresponsible” for storing top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago
- Nov. 2, 2022 – Biden’s attorneys find classified documents stashed at the Penn Biden Center in Washington
- Nov. 4, 2022 — The National Archives contacts the Justice Department, saying the documents have been found and secured in an Archives facility
- Nov. 8, 2022 — Democrats perform better than expected in the midterm elections, losing a net of just nine seats in the House of Representatives and gaining a seat in the Senate
- Nov. 9, 2022 — The FBI begins an “assessment” of whether the classified material was mishandled in violation of federal law
- Nov. 14, 2022 — Garland assigns Chicago US Attorney John Lausch to lead an initial investigation to determine whether Garland should appoint a special counsel
- Nov. 18, 2022 – Garland announces special counsel in Trump case
- Dec. 20, 2022 — Biden’s personal attorney tells Lausch more classified documents have been found in the garage of Biden’s Wilmington, Del. home
- Jan. 5, 2022 — Lausch advises Garland to appoint a special counsel
- Jan. 9, 2023 – The public is first told of the mishandled Biden documents
- Jan. 10, 2023 – Biden makes first public statement about Penn documents
- Jan. 11, 2023 — Classified documents reported found at second location
- Morning of Jan. 12, 2023 — Biden attorney tells Lausch one additional classified document found at the Wilmington home Advertisement
- Morning of Jan. 12, 2023 — White House, Biden confirm documents found in garage
- Afternoon of Jan. 12, 2023 – Garland appoints special counsel to investigate Biden documents
“Absolutely, OK,” Jean-Pierre said in a non-committal tone before calling on another reporter.
A spokesman for the White House counsel’s office, Ian Sams, declined to specifically comment on the University of Delaware files. In an email, he pointed The Post to a general answer he gave during a press call Monday, in which he said, “we are fully cooperating with DOJ, working with them throughout their investigative steps here and coordinating with them on any needs going forward. So, in terms of the searches, potential searches, things like that, I’m not going to get ahead of any decisions that are made. But, you know, we’re fully cooperating with DOJ.”
The University of Delaware’s press office didn’t immediately respond to The Post’s questions about whether Biden’s files there have been reviewed for classified documents and whether the university has anyone on staff with relevant security clearances.
Jean-Pierre’s well-worn deflections on specific details come as special counsel Robert Hur investigates whether Biden or others in his orbit illegally mishandled classified records. A different special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating former President Donald Trump’s handling of records following an Aug. 8 FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Biden’s lawyers initially reportedly found 10 classified documents on Nov. 2 while clearing out his glamorous former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington. Some of them reportedly were marked “top secret” and concern Iran and Ukraine. Additional classified documents were found on Dec. 20 in the Wilmington garage, followed by a series of additional discoveries at the home.
Jean-Pierre deflected one journalist’s question Tuesday about a potential search of Biden’s Rehoboth Beach, Del., vacation home after scrutiny by Biden’s team supposedly turned up no classified records. Biden’s lawyers made similar statements regarding searches being complete at Wilmington before the FBI found more documents.
At one point in the briefing, Peter Doocy of Fox News asked, “After a special counsel was named, but before the FBI searched, President Biden went to his house in Wilmington. What was he doing in there?”
“I would refer you to the White House counsel,” Jean-Pierre replied.
Biden’s personal attorney Bob Bauer said in a Saturday statement that the FBI on Friday “took possession of materials it deemed within the scope of its inquiry, including six items consisting of documents with classification markings and surrounding materials, some of which were from the President’s service in the Senate and some of which were from his tenure as Vice President.”
Cruz said Monday, “The next step in this scandal is going to be, OK, if Biden’s Senate documents include classified documents outside of classified settings — which is illegal — how many more classified documents are illegally in his Senate papers?”
“During the 2020 campaign, there was a concerted media effort to try to get access to those documents. In particular, there were allegations of sexual harassment raised against Joe Biden, and the media wanted to examine the documents on those allegations of sexual harassment. The University of Delaware has said, nope, they’re not releasing the documents to anybody until two years after Biden retires from public life,” he added.
“I am right now calling for the Department of Justice, for the FBI to examine all 1,850 boxes of those Senate records to see how many additional classified documents are in those records,” Cruz went on. “The answer should be none. But given Biden’s pattern, we should have zero confidence that there are not multiple classified documents within those 1,850 boxes of Senate records.”