The State Department Thursday followed the White House’s lead by dodging questions about the discovery of classified documents at one of President Biden’s former offices in Washington and in his personal garage.
Some of the documents were found at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., where Biden had an office before he ran for president. Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, was a managing director of that office. On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate how the documents were handled.
Thursday afternoon, reporters asked several questions about whether the Justice Department is looking into any possible connection between Blinken and the documents.
But State Department spokesman Ned Price dodged the questions, including those about whether the Justice Department has contacted the State Department as part of its investigation.
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The State Department, led by Secretary Antony Blinken, had no comment Thursday on his possible connection to the classified documents found in a former office at the Penn Biden Center, where Biden and Blinken worked.
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
“There’s not going to be much that I can say on a case like this for reasons that you well understand. You heard the president speak to this earlier in the week from Mexico City,” Price said. “Just as you heard from the president, the secretary [Blinken] was surprised to learn that there were any government records taken to that office. As you know, as is now well known, there is a review of this matter, so we’re going to let that review play out.”
When asked when Blinken first learned that classified documents were being kept at the Penn Biden Center, Price dodged again.
“I’m just not going to offer any additional detail,” he said. “Just as the president was, [Blinken] was surprised to learn that there were any government records taken to that location. Had no knowledge of it at the time. But I’m just not going to offer any additional detail.
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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday also shut down several questions from the press about the classified documents and repeated that President Biden is taking this "seriously."
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
“This matter is under review, so we’re going to let that review proceed as it should,” he added.
When asked if any of the classified documents might have come from the State Department, Price said he didn’t know.
“Of course, that would not be anything I would know,” he said. “It is not anything the secretary would know. As we’ve heard from the White House, it is not something that the president knows. This is a matter that’s being investigated, being looked at by the Department of Justice. We’re going to let that proceed.”
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He said if any connection is made, the Justice Department would likely coordinate with the State Department.
“If there is a need for the Department of Justice to speak to the Department of State on an investigative matter, there are channels and procedures for them to do that,” Price said. “They’re not channels or procedures that would involve me, they’re not channels or procedures that would involve most people in this building.”
President Biden has offered only limited answers as the Department of Justice takes over the investigation.
“If there is a need, there would be, as you would expect, full cooperation,” he added. “But, again, we’re going to let this review play out.”
When asked if anyone from the Justice Department has interviewed anyone from the State Department on the matter, Price declined to comment.
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“I’m just not going to comment on this,” he said. “This is a matter that is being pursued by the Department of Justice, and we’ll let them pursue it.”