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Former Obama ethics chief excoriates Biden over classified document storage

"Biden's own retention of classified records reflects an inexcusable neglect of the most basic security protocols."

Published: January 17, 2023 6:25pm

Updated: January 17, 2023 7:25pm

Amid the discovery of classified documents at multiple locations occupied by President Joe Biden, a former ethics chief from the Obama administration has decried the commander-in-chief's management of sensitive materials.

"It's nothing like Trump's deliberate refusal to return classified records demanded by the National Archives, but Biden's own retention of classified records reflects an inexcusable neglect of the most basic security protocols," former United States Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub told Fox News. "The fact that the White House didn't mention that records were found in more than one location when first asked about them was a breach of trust with the public and a self-inflicted wound."

The November discovery of classified documents at Biden's former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington became public this month and has subjected the White House to intense scrutiny, given Biden's furious condemnation of former President Donald Trump for his own storage of classified materials at his Florida estate. The subsequent discovery of additional materials at Biden's Delaware home has further compounded the issue.

Biden has indicated he was "surprised" to learn of the materials in the Penn Biden Center but indicated he was aware of the documents at his home. Biden has defended his storage of the second batch, asserting they were locked in his garage alongside his Corvette.

Republicans have been quick to highlight the contrasts between the Department of Justice's handling of the Trump affair, which saw FBI agents raid his estate in August of last year, and its handling of Biden's classified documents scandal. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed special counsel Robert Hur to handle the Biden matter after previously tasking special counsel Jack Smith to investigate the Trump-related issues.

Democrats, such as Shaub, have attempted to distinguish between the two investigations, pointing to Biden's surrender of the documents and supposed cooperation with the DOJ. Prior to the August, 2022, raid on his home, former President Donald Trump cooperated with a grand jury subpoena and surrendered documents stored at his Mar-a-Lago estate to FBI agents.

Shaub, nonetheless, approved of the appointment of Hur as special counsel and indicated an expectation that his inquiry would likely not result in major legal repercussions for Biden.

"Based on what we know so far, it seems unlikely that he's at risk of any legal consequences, but I'm glad Garland appointed a special counsel to show even-handed treatment of the current and former president," he concluded.

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