By Frank Fang
Former President Donald Trump is questioning the timeline of the November discovery of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center, a revelation made by President Joe Biden’s attorneys earlier this week.
“I think they knew long before Nov. 2,” Trump told John Solomon, the founder of Just the News, on his podcast published on Jan. 11.
Referring to Biden, Trump added, “I think he knew probably right from the beginning and I think a lot of it had to do with Ukraine, because that was the papers he kept. And no, I think they knew about this for a long time and they didn’t do anything about it.”
Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said on Jan. 9 that documents with classified markings were founded in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington on Nov. 2. On the same day, White House lawyers notified the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the agency took possession of the materials the next day, Sauber added.
Biden’s term as vice president ended in January 2017. A month later, he became a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and was given the role of leading the school’s Penn Biden Center, which officially opened in February 2018. According to the university’s website, Biden also had an office on the school’s campus in Philadelphia.
Biden was placed on unpaid leave in April 2019, when he announced he was running for president.
On Jan. 10, Biden said he was “surprised to learn” to learn that classified documents were found in his former private office.
“I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office,” Biden said. “But I don’t know what’s in the documents.”
“I’ve turned over the boxes—they’ve turned over the boxes to the Archives,” Biden added. “And we’re cooperating fully—cooperating fully with the review.”
When asked how documents from Biden’s vice presidency might “change the equation” with regard to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s probe into government documents found at Mar-a-Lago, Trump said, “Well, I think it totally changes that.”
“I was perfect under the Presidential Records Act,” Trump added. “I did absolutely nothing wrong.”
FBI agents seized over 11,000 documents and photographs without classified markings from Trump’s resort, including around 100 documents marked classified or top secret. However, Trump has said he declassified the materials when he left office.
Trump suggested that the FBI should search Biden’s properties, as well as those belonging to his son Hunter Biden.
“What about all of these places that he’s got?” Trump asked. “What about his house? What about Hunter’s house? You know, who’s going to go in there like they did with me? Who’s gonna do that?”
Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Kevin Mccarthy (R-Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.)—have criticized the Biden administration for double standards over the handling of classified documents.
“President Biden kept CLASSIFIED documents from when he was Vice President at his think tank, yet he sent his Department of Justice after former President Trump. Only presidents, not vice presidents, have the authority to declassify materials,” Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) wrote on Twitter on Jan. 10.
She added, “The DOJ’s double standard and two-tiered system of justice is on full display.”
However, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), during a press conference on Tuesday, called GOP criticism of Biden “Republican hypocrisy in its finest.”
Also speaking on the podcast, Trump suggested that Beijing could have likely seen the classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center, noting that the communist regime had paid millions in donations to the University of Pennsylvania.
In April, the New York Post reported that the University of Pennsylvania had received a total of $54.6 million in donations from China between 2014 and 2019, citing public records.
“The fact is that China was paying, through Penn—which, you know, I went to school at Penn, I went to the Wharton School of Finance, I love Penn—but they were paying all of this money to Joe Biden,” Trump said. “And they have the Biden Center there. And I would imagine—they’re paying all this money—I would imagine they had absolute entree into those documents. And they saw those documents.”
Trump made similar allegations on Monday, when he wrote on his Truth Social account that the Penn Biden Center “is funded by China” and “54 Million Dollars” from Beijing had gone to the Center.
University of Pennsylvania spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy, in a statement to Newsweek about Trump’s Truth Social posts, denied the allegations.
“The assertion that the Penn Biden Center received $54 million from China is total nonsense,” MacCarthy said. “The Penn Biden Center has never solicited or received any gifts from any Chinese or other foreign entity.”
“In fact, the University has never solicited any gifts for the Center,” MacCarthy added. “Since its inception in 2017 there have been three unsolicited gifts (from two donors) which combined total $1,100. Both donors are Americans. One hundred percent of the budget for the Penn Biden Center comes from university funds.”