Ron Klain, the departing White House chief of staff, defended President Joe Biden amid the controversy over classified documents found at Biden’s Delaware home and at a former office in recent weeks.
Klain spoke with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Wednesday, saying the Biden administration had been “cooperating fully” with the Justice Department after the president’s personal attorneys last month uncovered several classified documents at a private office that dated to his days as vice president. Biden’s lawyers immediately informed the National Archives after the first batch of files was discovered and turned them over a day later.
Classified files have since been found at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, creating a firestorm among Republican lawmakers who have compared the revelations to the retrieval of classified files from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida.
Klain said Wednesday that the episodes were vastly different, pointing to Trump’s repeated attempts to stonewall investigators and his refusal to hand over classified files he had taken with him when he left the White House.
“The hallmark of our handling of this has been cooperation with the Justice Department, with the Archives, in the first instance to make them aware,” Klain said. “They didn’t ask for documents from us. The president and his legal team said, hey, we found some of these documents.”
“It’s obviously very different than the approach that Donald Trump has taken, where he has basically stonewalled the government, required search warrants, was asked for these documents, refused to turn them over,” Klain added. “In our case, we identified the documents, made them available to the appropriate authorities and turned them over as soon as we found them.”
FBI agents conducted another “planned search” of Biden’s Rehoboth, Delaware, home on Wednesday, saying later they found no classified material. Officials at the DOJ said investigators did take “some materials and handwritten notes that appear related to his time as Vice President.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed Robert Hur as a special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of the files after he ended his tenure as vice president. The president has maintained that he will continue to cooperate with investigators.
“I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there,” he said last month. “There’s no there there.”
A separate investigation into Trump’s handling of government documents is underway.