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President Joe Biden speaks at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Philadelphia on Feb. 3, 2023. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

President Joe Biden reflected on his connection to Penn in newly released interview transcripts with former Special Counsel Robert Hur. 

The transcripts of Hur’s interviews with Biden — a former Benjamin Franklin Professor of Presidential Practice — were conducted as part of the investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents. In the transcripts released March 12, Biden spoke about his professorship at Penn, his work at the Penn Biden Center, and Penn Medicine.

The documents were released shortly before Hur’s congressional hearing in front of the United States House Judiciary Committee, in which Hur defended his decision to not prosecute Biden for his handling of the documents. 

Biden discussed his time as a Penn professor and working at the Penn Biden Center — where several of the classified documents were found in November 2022 — following his vice presidency. When asked by Hur how much time Biden expected to dedicate to these roles, Biden said that he would spend “all of it.” 

“[T]his was going to be my job,” Biden said in the transcript. 

Biden also spoke highly of Penn Med, saying that they had a “helluva cancer center there” — which was a “high priority” for Biden, who reignited the Cancer Moonshot Scholars program. Biden’s son, 1991 College graduate Beau Biden — who died in 2015 after a long battle with brain cancer — had interacted with Penn Med as a patient. 

“Penn has a great medical school and a great cancer research facility up there. And I talked with the president at Penn [Amy Gutmann], and I talked to the people at the school, and Beau had engaged with them as well as a patient,” Biden said in the deposition. 

University and Penn Med spokespeople did not respond to a Daily Pennsylvanian request for comment.

The transcripts also revealed that Penn “gave [Biden] money to hire staff” for the Penn Biden Center, according to Biden. His hires included current Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who served as the director of the Center.  

“I was able to hire some first-rate people like the Secretary of State now,” Biden said to Hur. “He was working for me at the … Penn Biden Center." 

Biden also mentioned that the University wanted the Penn Biden Center to be located in Washington so he could remain connected with politicians. 

“[T]he reason for Penn wanting me to have a facility in Washington was … to continue to engage with Congress and the Senate, presidency, and … each administration in debates about what the foreign policy issues were,” Biden said. “They had often set up for me to be guest lecturers in Europe … to continue to engage in the fundamental debates about the future of the foreign policy of the United States.”

He also pointed out the merit of the center’s proximity to the Capitol — not only for his family’s convenience but also to “expose the Penn students” to unique opportunities. 

“The Penn Biden Center was as close as you get to the Capitol without being on Capitol grounds,” Biden said.