WASHINGTON — Attorneys for President Joe Biden and the special counsel appointed to investigate his handling of classified documents have been negotiating for about a month over the terms under which he would be interviewed, two people familiar with the matter said.
Discussions between Biden’s lawyers and special counsel Robert Hur’s office are focused on how, when and where the interview might take place, as well as the scope of the questions, these people said. They stressed that the negotiations are ongoing and that no agreement has been reached.
The back-and-forth suggests that the probe — now in its eighth month — may not be wrapping up imminently. But an interview with the person at the center of an investigation typically takes place near the end of the process.
A spokesperson for Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, declined to comment Thursday, as did a spokesperson for Hur.
The White House declined to comment and referred questions to the Justice Department, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
For months now, Biden’s lawyers have been gaming out various scenarios for an interview, with the expectation that he would provide one once his legal team and the special counsel agreed on the specifics.
Negotiating those conditions includes, in part, settling on whether the interview would be in person and, if so, where it might happen — as well as the range of topics and questions that would be covered, said the people familiar with the negotiations.
Most of the classified documents discovered in November and this year were related to Biden’s time as vice president, according to his attorneys, though some also pertained to his time as a U.S. senator. The documents were found in an office Biden used after he left the vice presidency and at his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The searches, however, also turned up a large number of notebooks Biden kept during his time in public office before he was elected president that could contain sensitive information.
It is unclear exactly how many documents were seized for review and whether that is still a major factor contributing to the length of the investigation.
The Biden team would like to know in advance, ideally, whether a sit-down with the special counsel would include questions about material beyond the vice presidency, and they would prefer to limit the scope, one of the people familiar with the negotiations said.
Biden has pledged to cooperate “fully and completely” with the Justice Department’s investigation.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Hur in January, two months after he named Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents and alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Trump in June was indicted in the classified documents probe on 37 counts stemming from seven charges, including violating the Espionage Act, with a superseding indictment adding charges that he sought the destruction of security video at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Trump has cast the indictment and a subsequent one related to alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election as politically motivated by the Justice Department. The White House has said the Justice Department is acting independently, and Biden has sought to avoid discussing any Trump investigations.
Polls show Biden and Trump could face a rematch next year, with Trump far ahead of his rivals for the Republican nomination.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, also a presidential candidate, found classified documents from his time in office at his home in Indiana, as well. Garland did not appoint a special counsel for Pence; the Justice Department cleared him of any potential wrongdoing.