On 1/13/2023, White House reporters continued to grilled Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the classified documents found in Joe Biden’s garage. It was revealed this week that Joe Biden improperly stored classified documents in his garage next to his Corvette. Senior Advisor for Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms shared the briefing room with Jean-Pierre. A reporter asked Bottoms, “Can I ask you if — as you’re — in your role in community outreach, whether the issue of the documents is a particular setback for the President at a moment when other things seem to be going pretty well? …. Like, are you finding that you’re getting a lot of response from the public on that? And how do you — how do you play that issue?”
MS. BOTTOMS: In my role as Senior Advisor for Public Engagement, we’ve not gotten any information on that in terms of from the public. We’ve not received any questions.
Reporter: And do you anticipate that that will have any bearing or is causing the President to think at all about — as he’s making his decision about whether to run again — will this series of discoveries have any bearing on his thinking and his thought process as he decides whether to run?
MS. BOTTOMS: I’ll refer those questions to the President. He can speak for himself on that.
On 1/10/2023, Joe Biden delivered remarks with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mexico City. A reporter asked him, “on the news at home, can you explain how classified documents ended up in one of your offices? And should the public get — have been notified sooner?” Biden said, “Well, let me get rid of the easy one first. People know I take classified documents and classified information seriously. When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me — a secure office in the Capitol, when I — the four years after being Vice President, I was a professor at Penn.”
“They found some documents in a box — you know, a locked cabinet, or at least a closet. And as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box. And they did what they should have done: They immediately called the Archives — immediately called the Archives, turned them over to the Archives. And I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.
But I don’t know what’s in the documents. I’ve — my lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I’ve turned over the boxes — they’ve turned over the boxes to the Archives. And we’re cooperating fully — cooperating fully with the review, and — which I hope will be finished soon, and will be more detail at that time.”
Reporter: When you look at the economy, you saw the unemployment rate come down last month, and yet, it went up for Black women, for Latinos. What is your reaction? How focused is this administration on trying to make sure that the recovery is equal, is helping African American women?
MS. BOTTOMS: Well, equity is at the center of what we do from this administration. And so, that’s extremely important.
You know, it’s been said that when America catches a cold, that Black America catches the flu. Well, that’s also in relation to the economy. We often know that communities of color and those communities …
Reporter: Thank you. Thinking back to the 2020 campaign, part of the President’s strategy at the time was going to visit these churches to engage some of the voters that he needed to turn out for him — in South Carolina … Is this speech at Ebenezer the start of a similar outreach campaign heading into 2024?
MS. BOTTOMS: I don’t know that it’s the start of it, but it could be a great start of it …
Reporter: Can you provide any insight into the writing process for the speech? I know that oftentimes there’s a lot of time paid attention to speeches like this — how long the President has been working on it for.
MS. BOTTOMS: We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks as a team and, of course, with the President’s input. And as with any major speech that the President is giving, you — he gives his input and — and the team takes it from there. And then he takes his pen and he says what he wants to say, and you’ll hear that on Sunday.
Reporter: Is it finished?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. The last —
Reporter: Is it finished?
MS. BOTTOMS: No. (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: It’s never finished.
Biden Advisor: Equity is at the Center; Classified documents & Biden 2024 & Public Engagement