During the White House briefing on Thursday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to numerous questions about classified documents found at President Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., and at an office he used after he was vice president. Several questions posed to Jean-Pierre were about how transparent the White House has been about disclosing the circumstances under which the documents were found.
- When you talk about "we are being transparent." who's we, and what is the definition of transparent in this case? Is it the lawyers being transparent legally with the Archives and the Justice Department? Or is it the White House writ large being transparent with the general public?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: So number 1-- and I've said this multiple times already-- we take this very seriously. The president takes this very seriously. He was not aware that the records were there. He does not know what is in the documents. Again, classified information, classified documents, he takes very seriously.
When they were discovered-- and this is the right thing to do, right-- his lawyers reached out immediately to the archivists. They reached out to Department of Justice to let them know that the papers or the documents--
- Who was it? Was it the archivists or the Justice Department?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I--
- Because the attorney general this morning said that the attorneys reached out to the Archives. It was only later in December, when the second batch was apparently found--
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I will--
- --that then they were reaching out to the Justice Department.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I will leave it to what the Department of Justice is laying out. What we are saying, that we reached out to the archivists, we reached out to the Department of Justice. That is what is the right thing to do in this case. And not-- and-- so I can finish here-- what has been transparent in this as well is that the White House counsel has let-- has laid out in detail on Monday to all of you--
- But they haven't laid out everything, Karine, and you know that.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: First of all, I can't talk about this, right, because it is-- the Department of Justice is reviewing it. There is a review happening, Ed, right? You know this. We just heard from the attorney general. There is a review. I am limited in what I can say to this.
- Well, could Richard Sauber perhaps come here?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I think you should--
- Will Stuart Delery come here?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I think you should reach out to the White House counsel.
- We're reaching out on a constant basis.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: OK.
- So why not have them come here--
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: OK.
- --to the room to take questions?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I am saying to you that we have put out lengthy statements, and you can reach out to them, as you all have been doing, and I will leave it there. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead, Justine.
- Why not have them come and answer the question?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Just-- I-- they have been talking to you all pretty regularly the last couple of days. We have put out-- they have put out lengthy statements on this. I just read out what Richard Sauber had to say. And I would refer you to the White House counsel. I am limited in what I can say because-- because-- the Department of Justice, we see them as being independent when it comes to these types of issues. And so I'm not going to go beyond what the president said, and I'm not going to go beyond what the lawyers said. I have to go around. You've asked me about--
- But can we at least get an acknowledgement then--
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Ed--
- --that there's going to be a limit in transparency-- public, non-legal transparency-- in what can be shared and said by this White House?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I disagree. There has-- I disagree, Ed. There has not been a limit of transparency. That is--
- In these statements--
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: That is--
- --we're giving information away.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: There has not been a limit of transparency. That-- I will disagree with you on that.