On Monday afternoon, CBS was given an exclusive that revealed that classified documents were found at President Biden's private office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington D.C. After the amount of handwringing and nonstop negative coverage of the news that Trump had classified documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago, you would think the media would take this story seriously. Predictably, they sought to downplay the news and deflect blame from Biden and distance him from any comparisons to what happened with Trump's storage of classified documents.
On ABC’s World News Tonight, senior national correspondent Terry Moran ran damage control for Biden:
We are told that there are only a handful of these classified documents, this according to sources who are talking to ABC News about this investigation, these documents I should say in the statement, the White House is acknowledging that, quote, a small number of documents with classified markings were discovered when the President's personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closet at that office space last November.
Meanwhile, on CBS Evening News, national correspondent Adriana Diaz ran to former federal prosecutor Scott Fredericksen to get assurance that what Biden reportedly did was different from what Trump was accused of.
“How significant is it that these documents were self-reported, and voluntarily turned over?,” Diaz asked.
Predictably, Fredericksen let Biden off the hook by explaining “the self-reporting here is probably the single most important part of this situation. It indicates a lack of intentional conduct. It's completely different from the Mar-a-Lago case, which tends, based on reporting, to indicate there was intentional activity to take those documents.”
Finally, on NBC Nightly News, justice correspondent Ken Dilanian returned to the same excuses that ABC & CBS made: that there were only “a small number of documents marked classified were found in a locked closet inside offices occupied by the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.” and that “the papers were discovered the day before the midterm election and were turned over immediately.”
To read the relevant transcript click "expand":
ABC’s World News Tonight
6:33:32 p.m. Eastern
TERRY MORAN: David, what we know that tonight the Justice Department has launched this preliminary investigation into classified documents that were recovered from an office Joe Biden occupied and used at the Penn Biden Center. A think tank here in Washington D.C.. We are told that there are only a handful of these classified documents, this according to sources who are talking to ABC News about this investigation, these documents I should say in the statement, the White House is acknowledging that, quote, a small number of documents with classified markings were discovered when the president's personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closet at that office space last November.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed the U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Illinois John Lausch to conduct a review of this matter. He was appointed by President Trump, and this all comes as the DOJ's investigation into former President Trump's possession of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, that search warrant that raid that was executed, that continues, there is one difference here, the White House says that President Biden and his lawyers cooperated from the beginning that those classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center were turned over the next morning after they were found in the locked closet and of course, Trump and his team have been battling with the National Archives and the Department of Justice over those documents, but this is a new investigation once again being conducted by the Department of Justice into President Biden's apparent possession of classified documents at his office at a think tank here in Washington, D.C.
CBS Evening News
6:36:08 p.m. Eastern
ADRIANA DIAZ: Three sources tell CBS News the classified documents were discovered in this building about a mile from the White House at the offices of the Penn Biden Center, a foreign policy research institute set up after President Biden left the vice presidency. According to a source familiar with the matter, the classified documents are small in number and were found in November in a box, among unclassified material.
Sources would not characterize how sensitive the documents are. Responding to requests from CBS News, the White House counsel said that on November 2 of last year, before the midterm elections, lawyers for President Biden were cleaning out office space at the center when they discovered the documents marked classified in a locked closet.
They stopped the work and contacted the White House. White House lawyers then reached out to the National Archives, which is responsible for the records. The archives in turn contacted the Department of Justice. Attorney General Merrick Garland then tasked the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, a Trump appointee, with determining what is in the documents and how they arrived at the Penn Biden center.
The FBI is also involved in the preliminary inquiry, which a source says is neither its conclusion. This development comes as the Justice Department is investigating former President Trump's handling of classified documents with over 300 found at Mar-a-Lago. The FBI seized some of the documents after the former President failed to comply with multiple requests to return them for over a year. President Biden was critical of Trump when he spoke to Scott Pelley in September on 60 Minutes.
SCOTT PELLEY: When you saw the photograph of the top-secret documents laid out on the floor at Mar-a-Lago, what did you think to yourself? Looking at that image.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: How that could possibly happen? How anyone could be that irresponsible?
DIAZ: Former federal prosecutor Scott Fredericksen says there are important differences between this Biden inquiry and that involving former President Trump. How significant is it that these documents were self-reported, and voluntarily turned over?
SCOTT FREDERICKSEN: I think the self-reporting here is probably the single most important part of this situation. It indicates a lack of intentional conduct. It's completely different from the Mar-a-Lago case, which tends, based on reporting, to indicate there was intentional activity to take those documents.
NBC Nightly News
7:04:36 p.m. Eastern
KEN DILANIAN: Tonight the White House is acknowledging that a small number of documents marked classified were found in a locked closet inside offices occupied by the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and officials say that those offices were used by Joe Biden after he left the Vice Presidency but before he became President and they say the papers were discovered the day before the midterm election and were turned over immediately.
All of this follows the discovery of roughly 300 classified documents at former President Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago the Justice Department is considering criminal charges in that case. The White House said in a statement it is cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice and an official told NBC News that Attorney General Merrick Garland turned the matter over to the U.S. Attorney in Illinois, who was appointed by then-President Trump. Lester?