President Biden was interviewed over the last two days as part of the investigation led by special counsel Robert K. Hur into the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s private office and Delaware home, a White House spokesman said Monday night.
A person familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss it, said the interview was conducted by Hur himself.
“The voluntary interview was conducted at the White House over two days, Sunday and Monday, and concluded Monday,” Ian Sams, a White House spokesman, said in a statement. “As we have said from the beginning, the President and the White House are cooperating with this investigation, and as it has been appropriate, we have provided relevant updates publicly, being as transparent as we can consistent with protecting and preserving the integrity of the investigation. We would refer other questions to the Justice Department at this time.”
A spokesman for Hur declined to comment.
The interview with Hur was scheduled weeks ago, the person familiar with the sessions said. It coincided with a growing international crisis, after Hamas militants staged an unprecedented attack on civilians in Israel, killing hundreds of people and taking others hostage.
The president also met Sunday with his national security team and spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden made no public appearances Monday, but he continued to hold meetings with advisers and monitored the situation in Israel, the White House said.
Hur, a former U.S. attorney from Maryland who also held other posts in President Donald Trump’s Justice Department, was appointed in January to investigate how classified material came to be at the office Biden used in Washington after his vice presidency, as well as at his Wilmington, Del., home.
Dozens of current and former Biden staffers have been interviewed as part of the investigation, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and former White House chief of staff Ron Klain.
When appointing Hur to lead the probe, Attorney General Merrick Garland cited the “extraordinary circumstances” of the Justice Department investigating the president as he considered a reelection bid. Biden formally launched his reelection campaign months later.
Special counsels have more independence from Justice Department leaders than other federal prosecutors, but they still ultimately answer to the attorney general. A special counsel not only can seek criminal charges, but also can issue a report explaining the findings of an investigation. It remains Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.
Hur’s investigation has proceeded separately from the longer-running special counsel probe into the retention of hundreds of classified documents at the Florida home of former president Donald Trump.
Trump has been charged with 40 federal crimes and accused of deliberately trying to mislead investigators as they demanded the government documents back. He is scheduled to stand trial on those charges in Fort Pierce, Fla., in May. Trump, who is the Republican front-runner for the 2024 presidential nomination, also faces three other criminal trials: federal charges in D.C. and state charges in Georgia for allegedly seeking to block the 2020 election results, and a state trial in New York for allegedly falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments during the 2016 election.
Based on what is publicly known about the two classified-documents probes, the Trump investigation appears significantly different from the Biden investigation. The number of documents involved in the Biden probe appears far smaller, and Biden has said that he has cooperated with investigators and handed over the documents as soon as they were discovered.
About 10 documents from Biden’s time as vice president were found Nov. 2, when lawyers for Biden were cleaning out his private office at the Washington-based Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a think tank Biden started with the University of Pennsylvania after his tenure as vice president.
The attorney, Pat Moore, found the documents in a small closet and called the White House Counsel’s Office, which in turn contacted the National Archives and Records Administration, the federal agency responsible for storing and preserving presidential records.
The Justice Department soon launched an assessment to determine if any laws might have been broken in the matter. John Lausch, the U.S. attorney in Chicago and a Trump administration holdover, oversaw the initial investigation, Garland said last year.
In late December, legal representatives for Biden searched his home in Wilmington, Del., and found a “small number” of records with classified markings in the garage, the White House has said. In January, lawyers found another potential record with classified markings at the Wilmington residence, in a room adjacent to the garage.
Biden’s home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., also was searched, but no classified material was found, the White House has said.
Biden’s personal attorneys arranged for the Justice Department to take possession of the material. Soon after, Lausch told Garland that a special counsel appointment was warranted, and Hur was appointed.
Shortly after Biden’s teams reported classified materials at his homes, former vice president Mike Pence searched his properties and found potentially sensitive government materials. Federal investigators looked into that situation as well, but they closed their investigation in June without charges.
Some close to Biden have been frustrated that Hur’s investigation has not wrapped up as quickly. Aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation, have said they believe the documents unintentionally ended up at Biden’s home and office because of sloppy staff work.