Biden’s Mexico Trip Overshadowed by Classified Documents Disclosure, Brazil Riots

President Joe Biden’s trip to Mexico was supposed to showcase the administration’s policies on trade and migration. Events got in the way.


President Joe Biden’s trip to Mexico was supposed to highlight the administration’s policies on trade and migration, but the riots in Brazil and the disclosure that classified documents were found at Biden’s private office derailed those plans.

  • The North American Leaders Summit was supposed to be an event for Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador to coordinate on continental issues like migration, drug trafficking, trade, and climate change.
  • Instead, at a joint news conference with Trudeau and López Obrador, Biden was peppered with questions about the Monday evening disclosure that classified documents were found at his post-vice-presidential office. Biden said he was “surprised” to learn classified documents were found at his former office.
  • The classified document disclosure has thrown a wrench into the Justice Department’s inquiry into former president Donald Trump over his decision to keep top secret documents at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office, creating new political problems for the Biden administration.
  • The “three amigos” issued a joint statement condemning the storming of the Brazilian capital by pro-Jair Bolsonaro protesters on Sunday, with the riots quickly drowning out any other Latin America-related news.
  • Brazilian authorities quelled the assault and are now taking legal measures to arrest the rioters – some 1,200 people have been detained – and track the financial backers of the attack
  • North American leaders put on a show of unity at the summit by downplaying mutual frustrations between North America’s three democracies over each other’s trade and migration policies, especially between López Obrador and his English-speaking northern neighbors.
  • The “three amigos” summit wasn’t entirely amicable – López Obrador notably challenged the president’s “forgetfulness” towards Latin America and the Caribbean, making a subtle dig at Biden’s penchant for forgetting key details and spinning long yarns of complete fiction.
  • In a week like this, Biden would do well to recall what British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan replied when asked what was the greatest challenge for any national leader: “Events, dear boy, events.”


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Politico reported Biden plans to host Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the White House in February in a show of support after the attack on Brazil’s congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace earlier this week.
  • The New York Times compared the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s former office with the Trump/Mar-a-Lago investigation. According to the Times, the key difference is in how each chose to respond once classified documents were found in their possession. Biden’s attorneys reported the problem and cooperated with the inquiry, while Trump stonewalled the government for months and resisted attempts to retrieve the material before the August raid.
  • CNN had a message for voters trying to make sense of Biden’s border policy: “Don’t.” His policies are “confusing and full of contradictions,” Zachary B. Wolf wrote. Wolf highlighted Biden’s decision to visit the border without visiting migrant detention facilities and expanding the Trump-era Title 42 policy while asking courts to end it without a backup plan.



  • Biden’s mishandling of classified documents is drawing scrutiny from both sides of the aisle, according to the Wall Street Journal. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the House Oversight Chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the Senate Intelligence Chair, have both demanded briefings and information from the administration on how the documents could have been mishandled.
  • Andy McCarthy from National Review argued Biden’s mishandling of classified information will make it much more difficult politically for the Justice Department to indict Trump. To help make his case, McCarthy quoted Barack Obama’s famous assessment of his former No. 2: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up.”
  • Byron York of the Washington Examiner pointed out one important similarity between the Trump and Biden document cases: “In neither case do we know what the classified documents were.” York urged commentators to hold off on passing judgment until we know more.

Author’s Take

Blake Hounshell, a top editor at Foreign Policy and Politico before joining the New York Times, died yesterday of an apparent suicide at 44. Hounshell was an influential writer and editor, especially on national security issues, and his work has been featured in Spangld extensively over the past year. His writing helped shaped many people’s thinking – me included – on the key political and national security issues of the past decade. I had just finished reading his “On Politics” newsletter yesterday morning when news broke of his tragic passing. Hounshell leaves behind a wife and two children, and if you’re the praying type they could use our prayers right now.

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© Dominic Moore, 2023