DOJ searches for more classified material at Biden home
The FBI found more classified documents at the Wilmington, Delaware, home of President Joe Biden during a consensual search Friday that lasted nearly 13 hours, his personal attorney and a prosecutor said Saturday night.
The discovery was the fourth time since November that classified records or materials have been found at Biden’s private address.
His personal attorney, Bob Bauer, said in a statement that the Justice Department seized “six items containing classified documents and related materials.”
A federal prosecutor later told NBC News that FBI agents, who work for the DOJ, “conducted a planned and approved investigation of the president’s residence in Wilmington. “
Some of the items dated back to Biden’s tenure in the Senate, where he represented Delaware from 1973 to 2009, Bauer said. And some of the items were from his tenure as vice president in the Obama administration, from 2009 to 2017.
In addition to those records, FBI agents, who did not have a warrant to search them, seized some of Biden’s handwritten notes as vice president, according to the attorney and the White House.
Neither Biden nor first lady Jill Biden attended the investigation, according to Richard Sauber, a special adviser to the president.
The items join an undisclosed number of classified government records previously unearthed by lawyers for the president.
A small number of classified records were first discovered by Biden’s lawyers on Nov. 2 at a private office he kept at a think tank in Washington, D.C., after he ended his tenure as vice president in Obama administration in 2017.
The White House only disclosed that finding on January 9.
On December 20, a small number of classified records were found in the garage of Biden’s Wilmington home.
A single sheet of classified material was then found at the Wilmington residence on January 11. Then, the next day, five more pages of classified records were found in a room next to Biden’s garage, when DOJ officials traveled there to take possession of the same one. a page found the day before.
The White House has said that when the president’s lawyers discovered the previous documents, they immediately contacted the National Archives and Records Administration and the DOJ.
Friday’s search was the first time it has been made public that federal law enforcement authorities have searched for government documents at Biden’s private addresses.
Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this month appointed a special counsel to investigate Biden’s retention of government records after serving as vice president.
Former President Donald Trump is under criminal investigation by another special counsel for taking hundreds of classified records and other government documents from the White House when he left office. Trump is also being watched for obstruction of justice by blocking efforts by government officials to retrieve these documents.
In early August, the FBI raided Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where they found thousands of pages of government records. The FBI had a search warrant in that case.
By law, presidents and vice presidents must return government documents to the National Archives when they leave office.
Biden and the White House were criticized for the two-month delay in disclosing the discovery of the first batch of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.
That first discovery came six days before the mid-term elections when the balance of control of political parties on both chambers of Congress was in question.
And critics have asked why searches in other private places the president was holding were not conducted until after the White House disclosed the first discovery.
Bauer, in his statement Saturday that the president’s legal team offered to grant “expedited access” to Biden’s private residence “to allow DOJ to search the entire property for vice presidential records and potential classified materials.
He said the offer was made “to move the process along as quickly as possible.”
“DOJ requested that the investigation not be made public in advance, per its standard procedures, and we agreed to cooperate,” Bauer said.
He said the DOJ completed a thorough search of all the items in the President’s Wilmington home on Friday.
“It started at about 9:45 a.m. and ended at about 10:30 p.m. and it covered every work, living and storage space in the home,” Bauer said. “In agreement with the DOJ, representatives from the personal legal team and the Office of White House Counsel were present.”
Authorities had “full access to the president’s home,” which included “personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memos, to-do lists, schedules, and memories going back decades. “
“DOJ took possession of material it deemed within the scope of its investigation, including six items containing classified documents and related material, some of which came from the service of the Chief sit in the Senate and some of them from his tenure as Vice President. Bauer said.
“DOJ also agreed to further examine handwritten notes from the vice president’s years.”
The lawyer said, “As indicated in the Statement we issued on January 14, we have tried to balance the importance of public transparency where appropriate with the established standards and parameters that is necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
“We will continue to do that throughout our cooperation with DOJ,” Bauer said.
Sauber, Biden’s White House lawyer, said in his own statement, “The President and his team are working quickly to make sure DOJ and the Special Counsel for conduct a thorough review.”
“From the beginning, the President has been committed to handling this sensibly because he takes this seriously,” said Sauber.