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Democratic allies are becoming dissatisfied with the White House’s response to Biden’s classified documents.

Democratic allies are frustrated with White House officials’ tight-lipped approach to the classified documents discovered in President Joe Biden’s office and residence, and are calling on the administration to be more forthcoming in its handling of the issue.

The controversy over the documents has quickly diverted attention away from the administration’s policy agenda, and it may also influence when Biden announces his 2024 plans. Some Democrats are now suggesting that he wait until the controversy has died down before running for re-election.

Until then, Democratic strategists, lawmakers, and even administration officials say Biden needs to explain more fully how and why classified records dating back to his vice-presidency ended up in his garage and a private office in Washington, D.C.

“He has to say, ‘I messed up, I apologise,'” said Lanny Davis, a Clinton White House lawyer who handled various investigations.

“With the benefit of hindsight, President Biden can admit to mishandling this,” Davis, who now works in crisis management, added. “Own it!”

According to the White House, Biden’s attorneys discovered a “small number” of classified records related to his vice presidency in a locked closet on Nov. 2 — six days before the midterm elections — while vacating office space at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C. According to NBC News, one of the documents was marked Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, the highest level of classification in the US government.

The following day, Biden’s representatives turned over the material to the National Archives, which notified the Justice Department, resulting in a special counsel investigation to determine whether any laws had been broken.

The White House did not publicly confirm the discovery of documents until Monday, when CBS News reported that an investigation was underway.

Only classified material discovered at the centre, according to a statement from a White House lawyer, Richard Sauber. According to NBC News, Biden aides discovered an additional batch of classified documents, which was not mentioned in the White House’s initial acknowledgement. According to a new statement released by Sauber on Thursday, records were also discovered in Biden’s garage in Wilmington and one of the home’s adjacent rooms.

“I think it was a miscalculation,” said a Biden administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely. “If you’re going to be transparent, you have to be open about what you know and when you know it. When you start leaking information that you already knew, it raises more red flags. People begin to wonder, ‘When will the next shoe drop?'”

One Democratic member of Congress stated that he has heard nothing from White House officials about what occurred and is unsure how to explain it to constituents.

“I presume they’re trying to line up the facts and give us guidance,” said the lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely. “However, we’re also hanging out here.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

“It’s easy from the outside to opine how the White House could and should have done this,” one person familiar with the White House’s thinking said, “but the people saying that probably not now or ever have they been subject to a special counsel investigation or U.S. attorney review.”

When asked about the records during her daily briefings, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has referred reporters to previous statements or referred reporters to other government officials. Asked by NBC News on Friday why the administration waited to publicly disclose the documents’ discovery until reporters learned of them, Jean-Pierre said: “Because it’s an ongoing process. Because, once again, it is a continuous process. There is a procedure at work here. The Department of Justice is self-contained. That process is respected by us.”

Jennifer Palmieri, the Obama White House’s communications director, suggested that any White House press secretary in this position would be in a difficult position in terms of what can be disclosed in the briefing room.

“In an ongoing investigation involving law enforcement, the White House must exercise extreme caution in releasing information to the public. If you reveal details in real time, before the White House and/or [the Justice Department] have completed their investigations, you may be accused of ‘changing your story,’ or of trying to get ahead of the special counsel and litigating the case in the court of public opinion before the special counsel has even begun his investigation. Such actions could have long-term negative consequences.”

Press secretaries, however, are not powerless: they can approach colleagues and demand answers to share with the press and the public.

“You can’t count the number of times I threatened to resign if we didn’t allow such and such to be made public,” said Mike McCurry, the Clinton White House press secretary during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Democratic strategists say Biden should consider naming a dedicated person to field questions about the documents so that the White House isn’t bogged down on a daily basis by a controversy that distracts from his policy goals.

“The White House should consider appointing a separate spokesperson to handle all questions related to this matter,” said Karen Finney, a Democratic strategist who worked in Clinton’s administration. “Even if someone else handles those questions, you still have a press briefing where you can communicate the issues of the day that you’re trying to get out.”

According to a person familiar with the situation, some White House officials are frustrated that the president is now the subject of a special counsel investigation. A criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s possession of classified records at his Mar-a-Lago estate has been ongoing for months. Some Biden aides believe that, unlike Trump, Biden fully cooperated with authorities, but that Americans may conclude that both men mishandled records and are to blame, according to the source.

Since the controversy erupted this week, Biden supporters have emphasised that the Trump and Biden cases are vastly different. They hope that voters will notice the difference between the two: When the documents were discovered, Biden returned them, whereas Trump withheld them, prompting a search warrant to be executed at Mar-a-Lago in August.

“The differences are pretty obvious,” said Brad Woodhouse, senior adviser to the Congressional Integrity Project, a pro-Biden group.

One of Sauber’s statements, he said, highlighted perhaps the most stark contrast: “We are fully cooperating.”

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