Watch CBS News

Former Biden aide told House committee how classified documents ended up at private office

FBI searched Penn Biden Center in November
FBI searched Penn Biden Center for documents in November 09:48

Washington — A former aide to President Biden told House investigators how boxes that were later found to contain classified documents ended up in Mr. Biden's former private office, according to snippets of testimony released by Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Kathy Chung, Mr. Biden's former assistant, gave a voluntary, transcribed interview to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on April 4. She testified that she and another aide packed up the outgoing vice president's office at the end of the Obama administration, placing folders and other items in boxes. Those boxes were then taken to a government transition facility before eventually ending up at the offices of the Penn Biden Center in Washington, a think tank run by the University of Pennsylvania where Mr. Biden kept an office, Chung testified.

The committee's chairman, Rep. James Comer, launched an investigation after documents marked as classified were found in Mr. Biden's office and Delaware home last fall and earlier this year. Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, a Democrat of Maryland, released excerpts of Chung's testimony on Wednesday. 

According to a partial transcript from Democratic staff on the committee, Chung testified that she and another Biden assistant, Ann Marie Person, worked quickly to help pack up the vice presidential office before Donald Trump took office. She testified that she didn't notice any classified material at any point in the process. Chung said she had a security clearance and experience handling classified material while she was in the vice president's office. 

Chung said she packed about 13 boxes at the White House, at the time believing that all presidential and classified material had already been turned over to the appropriate offices. She said she placed folders in the boxes and did not examine the papers inside the folders. They also packed boxes with items such as challenge coins, personal correspondence, condolence letters, schedule copies, copies of past speeches and some other photos and documents. 

The boxes, Chung said, were taken to a General Services Administration transition facility near the White House, where they stayed for six months. They were then moved to a building in Washington's Chinatown neighborhood that was leased by the Penn Biden Center before eventually being moved to the think tank's main office space.

Chung, who was Mr. Biden's aide during the Obama administration and continued working for him once he left the White House, said she unpacked the boxes at Mr. Biden's Penn Biden Center office, placing some of the file folders in a cabinet. She testified that she didn't rifle through the papers individually as she unpacked. 

She said she received a call in May 2022 from the White House counsel at the time, Dana Remus, who asked Chung to help re-pack the boxes at the Penn Biden Center. She said she did so. It wasn't until November 2022 that Bob Bauer, the president's personal attorney, called her to tell her classified material was found in the boxes she had packed, according to her testimony.

It's not clear what happened between the May 2022 phone call from Remus and November 2022 when the documents were discovered. The White House declined to comment on Chung's testimony.

CBS News was first to report in January that the material was identified by personal attorneys for Mr. Biden on Nov. 2, just days before the midterm elections. Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a statement that the documents were discovered when Mr. Biden's personal attorneys "were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C." 

A spokesperson for Republicans on the committee said Chung's testimony "undermines the White House's narrative of the events," but declined to release the full transcript of Chung's testimony, citing the sensitivity of an ongoing investigation. 

"Once again Ranking Member Raskin is playing defense lawyer for President Biden instead of engaging in oversight of this administration," the spokesperson said. "Kathy Chung provided valuable information to the Oversight Committee's investigation of President Biden's mishandling of classified documents. Kathy Chung's testimony undermines the White House's narrative of the events. We now know the classified documents were not kept in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center as the Biden team has asserted and the timeline for packing up these documents starts six months earlier. We are not releasing the full transcript at this time as it contains sensitive information to this ongoing investigation."

The FBI searched the Penn Biden Center offices in mid-November after the president's personal attorneys discovered the material. Documents marked as classified were later found at Mr. Biden's home in Wilmington, Delaware. The Justice Department's investigation into the documents is now being overseen by special counsel Robert Hur. 

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Chung was an employee of Mr. Biden, not the Penn Biden Center.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.