WASHINGTON — A day after special counsel Robert Huron’s report declined to charge President Joe Biden with any wrongdoing — but pointed to evidence that he “deliberately” withheld classified material — the White House is strongly disputing inconsistencies over an unexpected witness: a ghostwriter.
Mark Zvonitzer worked with Biden on two memoirs, “Words to Keep,” published in 2007, and “Promise Me, Dad,” published in 2017. Hur alleges that Biden shared confidential information with the author while working on the second book. it could “undermine national security.”
Perhaps more damaging than the allegations about the president’s memory outlined in the report, the accusation of sharing classified information could pose a bigger problem for Biden, who has called former President Donald Trump “completely irresponsible” for his alleged mishandling of classified documents.
During a press briefing Friday, White House officials said parts of the report “didn’t live up to reality.”
“These are the president’s private records,” said White House Counsel spokesman Ian Sams, referring to the information discussed with the ghostwriter. “Historically, going back to the beginning of the country, presidents keep diaries.”
At a hastily called news conference Thursday night, Biden was asked why he shared the information with the dreamer, which he flatly denied.
“I did not share classified information,” Biden said. “I guarantee you, I didn’t.”
Pressed on why the special prosecutor claimed to have done so, the president replied: “He didn’t say that.”
Biden once called Zvonitzer a “great guy” who “helped me organize” in an interview as part of the audiobook “Promise Me, Dad.”
“I trust him with my life,” Biden said.
Zvonitzer has also written other books, including co-authoring a biography of the musical Carter family. A biography on his publisher’s website says he’s working on a documentary about the transcontinental railroad. The Emmy shows the site he was nominated for his work on biographical documentaries for public broadcasting.
In his report, Hur wrote that Biden’s ghostwriter first deleted audio recordings of his conversations with Biden after learning of the special counsel’s investigation. Hur said he considered charging the ghostwriter with obstruction of justice, but decided against it because he didn’t think there was enough evidence for a conviction.
According to Hur’s report, the ghostwriter offered “plausible, innocent reasons why he deleted the posts” and cooperated with investigators by turning over his computer and external hard drive.
Zwonitzer did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The Special Prosecutor’s report clearly alleges that “Mr. Biden shared information from these notebooks, including some classified information, with the ghostwriter.
“I wrote a long memo to President (Barack) Obama about why we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan,” Biden said, calling it a “private” communication with Obama, not “classified.”
“I didn’t read it (to the rock author),” Biden added.
The report claims otherwise: “Mr. Mr. Biden sometimes omitted supposed classified material and warned the ghostwriter that the writings could be classified, but on at least three occasions Mr. Biden read the classified entries almost verbatim to his ghostwriter.
Still, the report hedges on whether the specific disclosure of that information rises to the level of a crime or whether Biden’s intent can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Mr. Biden should have known that by reading his unfiltered notes of classified meetings in the Situation Room, he was at risk of sharing classified information with the ghostwriter,” the report claims. “However, the evidence does not show that when Mr. Biden shared specific passages with the ghostwriter, Mr. knew it was and intended to share confidential information.”
According to the report, Biden used notebooks containing classified information from his time as vice president to help Zvonitzer organize his memoirs — sometimes reading for more than an hour at a time, even though Biden knew the author had no knowledge. security clearance. The report said federal investigators found a box labeled “mark Z” and included a 2017 recorded conversation with Zvonitzer in which Biden said he “found all the classified stuff down there,” referring to the house he was renting in Virginia. . Still, no classified information was found in the memo, the report said, and FBI agents recovered the notebooks in January 2023 from an office and basement at Biden’s home in Delaware.
Sams, a spokeswoman for the White House counsel’s office, highlighted another passage in the special counsel’s report that concluded “the evidence does not establish that Mr. Biden willfully disclosed national defense information to Zvonitzer,” because a jury would have reasonable doubts about whether it did. Biden knew he was sharing classified information with Zvonitzer and “intended to do so.”
Biden’s lawyers, Richard Sauber and Bob Bauer, also forcefully retracted Hur’s claim that Biden shared classified information.
The attorneys who specifically responded to the claim about the dreamer emphasize that the letter refers to the handwritten letter Biden gave to Obama regarding Afghanistan, which Biden considered a “sensitive and private communication” but was not classified. Lawyers accuse Hur of falsely inferring that Biden was referring to classified documents on Afghanistan.
“We believe that a careful reading of the evidence on this point would recognize a strong possibility that the president was referring to his personal handwritten letter to President Obama on the tape — the one immediately after the eight words you focus on in the tape. More than recorded classified Afghanistan documents discovered in Wilmington garage.