By now you're aware that for the second consecutive weekend, additional discoveries of classified documents at President Biden's private residence have further extended and deepened this unfolding scandal. Two Fridays ago, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre -- who is being ripped by journalists in withering background quotes, calling her the least effective person to hold that position since the advent of television, and referring to her briefings on these matters as a "painful" waste of time -- assured the country that the search for any more classified materials had been 'completed.' The very next day, we learned that more documents had been discovered. One week after that, this news broke:
BREAKING: President Biden’s personal attorney says DOJ searched Biden’s Wilmington home on Friday and discovered 6 more classified documents, which they took possession of. Some of the documents were from Biden’s time in the Senate, others from his time as VP. @FoxNews— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) January 22, 2023
Was the president once again "surprised" by this? In a statement announcing this development, Biden's attorney wrote, "DOJ 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 serve in the Senate and some of which were from his tenure as Vice President." The wording of this is strange. Six "items" consisting of "documents with classification markings and surrounding materials" suggests that this may have been more than just six documents. And the fact that some of the classified materials date back to Biden's long Senate tenure is newsworthy, too. This detail means that he's been improperly and/or illegally holding classified items at his house since at least 2009. In reaction, a number of Senators and aides have been making points like this:
This says some of the docs are from his Senate service.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 22, 2023
Serious Q: how on earth did he do that?
I’ve served in the Senate for 10 years. EVERY single classified doc I’ve read—100%—have been in a secure SCIF in the basement of the Capitol.
What the hell?? https://t.co/XXznYth2dA
The scope of this problem is growing, and more questions are being introduced than answered -- especially in light of the Press Secretary's clumsy stonewalling. The president's rare comments on this imbroglio have made things worse. He went off script with his 'Corvette' comments to Fox's Peter Doocy, which was something of an accidental confession. Then late last week, the president asserted that he has "no regrets" about any of this, and that there's no 'there there' on this story. These are profoundly ill-advised things to say. The 'there there' is the roughly half-dozen separate discoveries of classified materials (some marked as top secret or SCI) in places where they are not allowed to be under the law. There is no magical vindication forthcoming. The existence of the documents in these spaces is the 'there there.' It is the substance. It is the scandal. Each discovery represents a violation of the law. As for the 'no regrets' aside, it strikes me as both an arrogant and rather stupid thing to say:
Yep. “No regrets, no there-there” is arrogance & stupidity. WH’s endless, mindless chant is the “very seriously” line. He’s had top secret docs in a closet and garage for years & says it’s a big nothing which he doesn’t regret. Total lack of contrition. “Very seriously” is a lie. https://t.co/36Mi3uKkaw— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 21, 2023
One of the only things this crew has said consistently is that the president takes the handling of classified materials "very seriously." But whenever Biden opens his mouth, he makes clear how untrue that is. He seemed to suggest that classified documents stored in a locked garage was acceptable because at least they weren't "out on the street," which is an embarrassing and ignorant standard to try to erect. This man has served at the highest levels of government for the better part of half a century. He knows better. Adding "no regrets" to the mix confirms that Biden does not take the handling classified information seriously at all. Multiple troves of unsecured secrets have been discovered around his house and former office, in violation of the law. The very least he could do, if he wanted to pretend that the "very seriously" posture were true, would be to express regret and resolve that steps are being taken to ensure that his unlawful and reckless misconduct will not be repeated. Instead, he states that he doesn't regret anything. This is his true position: He doesn't feel bad, he doesn't actually care, and he knows he won't face serious consequences. That's the arrogance component. Failing to feign contrition is the stupidity part. This is a pretty good line puncturing the unseriousness of the "very seriously" charade:
When President Biden said he takes classified documents seriously, the only thing he got wrong was his punctuation.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) January 22, 2023
He meant to say, “I take classified documents. Seriously.”
Meanwhile, we are learning more about some of the decisions to keep this scandal away from the public eye for months, buried until well after the midterm elections. Biden's personal lawyer is married to Anita Dunn, the Democratic spinmeister who infamously tried to ice out Fox News during the Obama administration. That couple was reportedly instrumental in the early days cover-up. As this continues to play out, I'll leave you with my segment on Fox's Media Buzz yesterday, opposite a Democratic strategist doing her perform damage control. Things got a little bit spicy, at least by my standards. You can judge for yourself who offered the better arguments: