White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe got into a heated spat Wednesday about President Joe Biden’s alleged mishandling of several classified documents.
Biden’s personal attorneys allegedly discovered several classified documents while packing files and subsequently notified the National Archives and Records Administration, CNN reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter. Several of the classified documents allegedly held materials related to Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom. Biden was reportedly unaware of the documents and was notified via the White House counsel’s office. The documents were reportedly found Nov. 2.
O’Keefe began by asking whether Jean-Pierre knew of any earlier conversations in the White House about the documents, noting the documents were discovered prior to the midterms but were only made public this week.
“Look, I understand you guys are going to have a lot of questions on this. I get that,” Jean-Pierre said. “I know you guys are going to have a lot of questions on process and specifics. And what I can tell you is that I’m not going to go beyond what the president laid out. I’m not going to go beyond what my White House counsel colleagues have stated.”
After WH Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre said she will not “go beyond what the President laid out” regarding the discovery of documents marked classified at a Biden think tank, CBS News’ @edokeefe pressed ahead.
Watch the exchange. pic.twitter.com/fykCwlqkKS
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 11, 2023
“You’re not going to answer the questions, but we’re going to ask them because that’s our job,” O’Keefe shot back. (RELATED: GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong Pushes Back Against CNN Anchor Who Tries To Downplay Concerns About Biden Doc Story)
“I understand,” Jean-Pierre said. “And my job is to answer your question, so here we go. Let’s go!”
O’Keefe cited comments Biden made earlier about taking accountability for any mistakes he may make.
“The president said, ‘I’m going to make mistakes. When I make them, I’ll acknowledge them, and I’ll tell you. And I’ll need your help to help me correct them,'” O’Keefe said, reportedly quoting Biden.
“So you’re the one here talking to us about this,” O’Keefe added. “That’s why we’re asking you. So let’s just remember that.”
“Ed, Ed, Ed, we don’t need to have this – we work very well together,” Jean-Pierre said. “We don’t need to have this kind of confrontation. Ask your question and I will answer them the best that I can.”
“Part of the reason we’re laying that out is because you’re laying out your part of the job, we’re laying out our part of the job, which is asking questions,” O’Keefe said.
“I know, but I’m just saying we don’t need to have contention – you don’t need to be contentious with me here, Ed,” Jean-Pierre responded.
O’Keefe then pressed her on why the findings were not disclosed until this week and asked if it had “anything to do with the fact that the election was just a few days away?”
Jean-Pierre said the matters were being investigated by the Department of Justice.
“There was nothing stopping the president of the United States from disclosing the discovery of these classified documents in his former office before it was under Justice Department review,” O’Keefe said. “So why didn’t he disclose it?”
Jean-Pierre said Biden was “surprised” and that he is taking the situation “seriously.”