White House Counsel spokesperson Ian Sams said during a Zoom call with reporters on Monday that many in the media were trying “to stir up controversy to get attention” while asking questions about the discovery of President Biden’s classified documents.
“Last week, after you briefed all of us, some of our colleagues went to Karine’s briefing and complained that even though you answered questions, that it wasn’t live and it wasn’t televised. And I’m wondering what you would say to that complaint and — and what — whether or not there’s a possibility you would brief for the cameras and just sort of let everybody ask all their questions until they’re blue in the face,” Meidiate’s Tommy Christopher asked Sams during the Zoom call with reporters.
Sams said that he has tried to give the press corps “access to the information” they need and said that he’s taken their questions “a couple of times.” He added that he also made himself available for interviews.
“Look, I think that there’s some of this — in every presidency, you know, there are many people out there in the media who sort of try to stir up controversy to get attention or — or time on camera,” Sams said.
“And — and throughout this process, we’ve tried to give you guys public information as it’s appropriate, consistent with that ongoing investigation to respect the integrity of that investigation. Because, again, the President has been very clear going all the way back to the campaign. He sees the Justice Department as independent — very important to keep them independent, to not influence their decision-making,” he added.
Sams said that they would continue to take questions and “try to help you understand the underlying information as best we can.”
Sams’ call with reporters came after the Department of Justice executed “a planned, consensual search” of Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home on Friday. DOJ officials discovered a fifth batch of classified documents during the search.
The special assistant to the president also appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday and repeatedly told the hosts that the Biden administration was cooperating with the DOJ and following their lead.
Host Mika Brzezinski insisted during the interview that he was not providing any answers.
“I understand that there’s a desire for public disclosure of information, that there’s a desire for facts to come out. But it’s important that the full set of facts be gathered by the Department of Justice and to be presented publicly so people, the American people, can understand all of these details. That is the job of an independent, strong Justice Department to do. So we’ll be fully cooperative with that process to make sure they have all the information they need to define the full set of facts. Then we’ll be able to talk publicly more about the conclusion of that investigation and what it uncovered,” he said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has referred most questions about the document scandal asked by reporters during press briefings to the DOJ and the White House Counsel.
She clashed with NBC’s Peter Alexander, who questioned their transparency because Sams’ call with reporters on Jan. 17 was not live, during a briefing on Jan. 18.
“But because they can’t witness it happening live, Americans don’t get the same transparency into this back and forth,” Alexander said.
Both of the Zoom calls Sams had with reporters on Jan. 17 and Jan. 23 were posted to the White House’s website on Monday.