The federal investigation into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents appears to be far from reaching a conclusion, contrasting with the nearing end of probes into former Vice President Mike Pence and former President Donald Trump, three sources close to the matter told NBC News.
According to these sources, Biden’s advisors have determined that he will grant an interview to the special counsel investigating his handling of classified documents once his legal team and the Justice Department agree on the conditions.
However, President Biden has not yet been interviewed by the Special Counsel, according to NBC News, indicating that the investigation is still ongoing. Typically, interviewing the central figure in an investigation occurs near the end of the probe.
For months, Biden’s aides have anticipated his willingness to participate in an interview if requested by the special counsel. They have also examined how past presidents have approached such interviews, suggesting that there is no way to avoid it, according to one individual knowledgeable about the discussions.
A spokesperson for Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, declined to provide a comment on the matter. The White House also refrained from commenting and directed inquiries to the Department of Justice, citing the ongoing investigation. Likewise, a spokesperson for Special Counsel Robert Hur, who is leading the Biden investigation, declined to comment.
In January, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Hur as a special counsel after classified documents from the Obama administration were discovered at the President’s former office in Washington, D.C., as well as his residence in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden said earlier this year he was “cooperating fully and completely” with the DOJ’s investigation.
Pence cooperated with federal investigators by providing an interview regarding his handling of classified material, which ultimately led to his recent exoneration.
In contrast, the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents seems to be approaching a conclusion. Following the FBI’s search of Trump’s Palm Beach residence, Mar-a-Lago, in August, significant witnesses have testified before federal grand juries. NBC News reported on Wednesday that Trump’s attorneys have been informed that he is a target in the investigation. It is worth noting that being a target does not always result in indictment, although it often does.
Attorney General Garland appointed Special Counsel Jack Smith to oversee the investigation into Trump shortly after the former president announced his intention to run for the presidency again in 2024.
Trump has attempted to equate the investigation into his handling of classified documents with the ones involving Pence and Biden.
Biden’s case differs significantly, as argued by his aides. When classified documents were discovered in his office, the current president promptly returned them to the government and voluntarily allowed federal authorities to search his properties for additional materials. On the other hand, the FBI had to obtain a warrant to retrieve documents from Trump after he resisted efforts to reclaim them.
Biden’s case is also believed to be more complex than Pence’s. Sources have indicated that Biden possessed a larger volume of classified materials than Pence did. Furthermore, NBC News reported that the FBI obtained a substantial number of notebooks Biden kept during his vice presidency, which they intended to review as part of the investigation.
Nevertheless, Biden’s aides were frustrated by Garland’s appointment of a special counsel for Biden’s case to demonstrate equal treatment of the current and former presidents, while no special counsel was named for the investigation involving Pence, according to two knowledgeable sources.
In private discussions, Biden’s aides also expressed frustration about the Justice Department’s closure of the investigation into Pence, citing no wrongdoing, just days before the former vice president’s planned announcement of his 2024 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination to challenge Biden, as shared by one individual familiar with the matter.
Following a meeting between his lawyers and Justice Department officials on Monday, Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, writing in all caps: “How can DOJ possibly charge me, who did nothing wrong, when no other presidents were charged, when Joe Biden won’t be charged for anything.” He referred to the investigation into his handling of classified documents as “the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
Privately, Biden advisors have expressed concern that Special Counsel Hur, as part of his mandate, may clear Biden of any wrongdoing but publicly criticize him for being sloppy or careless in his handling of classified materials, based on their memories of former FBI Director James Comey’s similar public statement regarding Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information during the 2016 presidential campaign.