DOJ Officials Find More Classified Documents At President Biden’s Home
The Justice Department found six items containing classified information during a Friday search of President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, his personal lawyers said on Saturday.
(Bloomberg) -- The Justice Department found six items containing classified information during a Friday search of President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, his personal lawyers said on Saturday.
The search, lasting more than 12 hours, also turned up classified notes from Biden’s time in the Senate and vice presidency. The search was conducted by FBI agents, according to people familiar with it. The agency’s involvement was not disclosed by the White House or Biden’s personal legal team in their statements.
The Justice Department also confirmed the search.
They mark the latest classified documents found in Biden’s possession, a matter that poses political and legal risk for the presidency.
Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the discovery of the classified documents at a think tank office Biden used after serving as vice president, as well as in two areas of his house in Wilmington, Delaware.
Garland had previously appointed a special counsel to investigate the discovery of classified documents at the home of former President Donald Trump, and questions about whether he or his associates deliberately misled government officials seeking their return.
The discovery of a fourth batch of documents exacerbates an embarrassing political misstep for Biden ahead of an expected 2024 reelection campaign. The White House has sought to draw a distinction with Trump, who has already announced a third presidential bid, by emphasizing Biden’s cooperation with investigators.
But the discoveries have turned attention away from a wave of momentum that Biden had been riding as 2022 ended with legislative victories and a better-than-expected Democratic midterm performance.
The FBI also performed the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August. But Trump had argued that he wasn’t obligated to return the documents to the national archives after he left office. The FBI was working under a search warrant in the case with Trump, who was required to hand over classified items as part of a grand jury subpoena.
Saturday’s search of Biden’s home was voluntary and not prompted by a warrant or subpoena, according to White House officials.
Asked why the documents weren’t found during the presidents’ lawyers’ earlier searches, one person familiar with the matter said Biden’s representatives had agreed that if they found a classified document during their search, they would stop and ask for guidance from Justice Department officials. The search process has been following rigid rules.
It is unclear if more searches will happen at the president’s Rehoboth, Delaware, property.
Neither Biden nor First Lady Jill Biden were present during the Friday search, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a separate statement.
“As detailed in the statement released by the President’s personal attorney, the President and his team are working swiftly to ensure DOJ and the Special Counsel have what they need to conduct a thorough review,” Sauber said.
Biden is spending this chilly winter weekend at his beach home in Rehoboth. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to tell reporters this week if he was avoiding the Wilmington property due to the investigation.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted between Jan. 11 through Jan 15 revealed that some two-thirds of Americans say that they are following the developments either very closely or somewhat closely. Sixty percent think that Biden acted inappropriately in the way that he handled the documents. Though only 37% think he should face criminal charges, according to the poll.
On Thursday, Biden criticized questions over the issue, saying that the American people didn’t understand the controversy.
“I have no regrets,” Biden told White House reporters during a trip to California. “I am following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do - that’s exactly what we’re doing. There’s no there there.”
The White House has declined to answer many questions on the matter, including why Biden didn’t immediately publicly disclose the discovery of the documents in November. CBS News broke the news two months after the first papers were found.
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