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Biden spox clashes with WH press corps in ‘inappropriate’ pressure campaign on classified docs reporting

WASHINGTON – White House Press Secretary Ian Sams on Thursday accused the nation’s major news organizations of reporting “gross inaccuracies” in Special Counsel Robert Hur’s scathing report on President Biden’s handling of classified documents. The president distributed a letter to the president, intensifying the conflict with the presidential press corps.

Mr Sams argued: 4 page rebuke The letter, addressed to Kelly O’Donnell, president of NBC’s White House Correspondents Association, names reports from CNN, CBS, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and the Associated Press in which journalists have criticized Biden’s actions. He said he made it sound worse than it actually was. press.

When O’Donnell did not forward Tuesday’s reprimand to journalists, Sams posted it to did.

Mr. O’Donnell condemned Sams’ tactics in an unusual letter to journalists Thursday afternoon, calling the letter “misguided” and that the White House press office’s use of pool reporters to circulate it ” “It’s inappropriate,” he wrote.

“As a nonprofit organization that supports the efforts of our members to cover the presidential inauguration, the WHCA does not, does not, and will not serve as a repository of government views on news content. and other issues,” O’Donnell wrote to fellow reporters.

“The White House has contact information for all bureau chiefs, editors, and reporters who cover the beat, and you should contact them directly if you have concerns about editorial decisions.” the widely respected veteran journalist wrote.

“In our 110-year history, our association has never controlled or policed ​​the journalism published or broadcast by our members or their employers.

“It is inappropriate for the White House to use internal pool distribution channels primarily for logistics and rapid sharing of need-to-know information in order to disseminate general criticism of news reporting. We will not distribute it,” O’Donnell added.

“The WHCA welcomes, and certainly wants its members to have, additional opportunities to question the President, the White House Counsel, or the President’s personal attorney on this issue.”

Mr. Sams’ letter to Mr. O’Donnell argued that virtually every news organization in the country misinterpreted the special counsel’s report.

White House Press Secretary Ian Sams claimed that journalists made Special Counsel Robert Hur’s findings appear worse than they actually were. Getty Images

Sams said in the letter that the news organization was wrong to focus on the third sentence of Huh’s report, saying, “Our investigation shows that President Biden, after becoming vice president, “Evidence has emerged that he intentionally retained and disclosed confidential material during the period.”

Sams said that after a more careful reading, the assessment concluded that Hoar’s other writings recommending no criminal charges be brought against Biden, 81, and that Biden’s post-vice-presidential residence is locked away. It claimed to have been shown to only be concerned with some of the state secrets hoarded in the D.C. office. The reason was that the jury would see him as a “well-meaning old man with a poor memory.”

“We write this letter to express our concerns about how our member organizations are reporting on the recent report by Special Counsel Robert Hur. We understand that it is difficult to address the report. . It’s nearly 400 pages long and written in a confusing and tortuous way. It’s not simple,” Sams wrote.

Special Counsel Robert Hur released a damning report that cast doubt on the president’s mental competency. AP

“Many news organizations have reported significant inaccuracies that have misrepresented the conclusions of their reporting about the president, and reporters in the White House briefing room have reported false statements or false assumptions,” the spokesperson said. I’m asking grounded questions.”

Mr. Sams, who is also the president’s chief representative in the House impeachment inquiry into corruption allegations against the Biden family, said that Mr. Heo had found only “some” evidence of intentional retention of classified documents and that “the special counsel has ‘discovered’ or report that they have ‘concluded.’ Intentional restraint by the president is rebutted by a finding that the charges are unwarranted. ”

“On page 1, the report states that the special counsel identified two buckets: (1) a set of classified Afghan documents, and (2) intentional retention related only to some of his own personal diaries and notes. ‘We’ve found evidence,”’ Sams said. I have written.

“This appears to be the basis for extensive media coverage. Perhaps the special counsel should have written this sentence as ‘discovered.’ Several There is evidence related to these two buckets, but after researching and reviewing the theories; complete wholeness As well as available facts and evidence. Several “The special counsel determined that the evidence was intentionally kept or refused to be disclosed,” he added.

“On classified Afghan documents: The report says, “While it is natural to think that Mr. Biden intentionally put the Afghan documents in the box and knew that they were there, in fact There is a lack of evidence on these points.” One was a personal diary note kept by the president, the special counsel said, “when Mr. Biden shared certain passages with his ghostwriter.” “There is no evidence that Mr. Biden knew that the passage was classified and was intended for sharing information,” it concluded. ”

President Biden lashed out at reporters on Thursday, February 8, condemning Heo’s report. AFP (via Getty Images)

Sams also took issue with other common elements of Herr’s report.

“Other reports have incorrectly reported references to audio recordings in which the president was heard speaking about ‘confidential matters downstairs’ from his home in Virginia in 2017,” Sams wrote. .

“For example, Reuters reported: “Biden told a ghostwriter…that he had ‘found all the classified information’ downstairs, referring to documents related to the US war in Afghanistan.” A reporter in the press room also pointed this out. In fact, the report considers whether this was a reference to classified Afghan documents, but concludes that there is no evidence that those documents were even in the president’s home at the time. ”

In a five-hour interview with investigators on Oct. 8 and 9, Sams did not mention reports about Heo’s assessment of Biden’s cognitive decline, saying, “The special counsel’s lies.” “Inappropriate personal comments diverted sufficient attention to the essence.” ”

The spokesperson, who is a designated representative of the White House Office of Counsel, did not address Biden’s own allegations of misinformation regarding the classified records investigation.

The president also told reporters that Xu’s report does not accuse him of sharing classified documents with ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer (pictured). wire image

In a heated exchange with reporters Thursday, Biden claimed that Xu’s team insensitively asked him about the death of his son Beau from a brain tumor in 2015, but an NBC report on Wednesday said that Xu’s team did not address the issue, saying Biden actually raised it. I brought up this topic and pointed out that the time period is wrong.

The president also told reporters that Xu’s report did not accuse him of sharing classified documents with ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer. Biden shared information, including some classified information. [his handwritten] I made notes with his ghostwriter. ”

Biden told reporters, “I did not share classified information with a ghostwriter, I did not share it, I did not do it. Guarantee me, I did not.”

The White House has criticized Biden’s actions and former President Donald Trump, who faces 40 criminal charges and up to 450 years in prison after he leaves the White House in 2021 for allegedly mishandling classified documents. 77).

Mr. Trump, who is seeking a rematch with Mr. Biden in the November election, has alleged double standards.

Mr. Xu’s scathing report included photos of Mr. Biden’s secret document storage practices. Ministry of Justice

Mr. Sams, who is widely seen among journalists as one of the brightest and most articulate of the White House press secretaries, is a member of the Correspondents’ Association, which does not have a role in vetting reporting by member organizations. It is unclear why he chose to send the letter to the Correspondents’ Association.

A few days earlier, the association had invited Mr. Sams to take field reporters’ questions at a press conference at the White House, and on Friday, Mr. Sams responded.

Pressure on news organizations can be deployed strategically in an attempt to change coverage, with President Biden holding large indoor events that were open to all reporters on campus under previous presidents. It infuriated reporters by using a still-mysterious pre-screening process to admit journalists. .

In previous altercations with reporters, the 2019 Biden campaign wrote on The New York Times complained about its thorough investigative coverage of the Biden family’s foreign dealings during Vice President Joe Biden’s tenure. In the years since, the country’s most read newspaper has not been a leader in reporting new information about the findings regarding Joe Biden’s role in these operations.

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