President Joe Biden acknowledged on Thursday that a document with classified markings from his time as vice president was found in his “personal library” at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, along with other documents found in his garage.
Biden told reporters at the White House that he is “cooperating fully and completely” with a Justice Department investigation into how classified information and government records made their way to his home and the office of his former institute in Washington.
Biden did not say when the latest series of documents were found, only that his lawyers’ review of potential storage locations was completed Wednesday night. Lawyers found the first set on Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections, but only publicly revealed that development on Monday.
The president’s admission comes days after it was disclosed that sensitive documents were also found at the office of his former Washington institute.
Richard Sauber, a special counsel to the president, said after the initial documents were found by Biden’s personal lawyers, they examined other locations where records might have been shipped after Biden left the vice presidency in 2017.
Sauber said a “small number” of documents with classified markings were found in a storage space in Biden’s garage in Wilmington, with one document being located in an adjacent room. The White House did not say when the subsequent search began or when the additional documents were found, only that the search was completed on Wednesday evening.
Sauber said the Department of Justice was “immediately notified” after the documents were located and that department lawyers took custody of the records.
Regardless of the Justice Department review, the revelation that Biden potentially mishandled classified or presidential records is proving to be a political headache for Biden, who said former President Donald Trump was “irresponsible” for keeping hundreds of such records at his private club in Florida.
Earlier this week, the White House confirmed that the department was reviewing “a small number of documents with classified markings” found at the Washington office. Biden’s lawyers had discovered the material at the offices of the Penn Biden Center and then immediately called the National Archives about the discovery, the White House said. Biden kept an office there after he left the vice presidency in 2017 until shortly before he launched his Democratic presidential campaign in 2019.
The revelation that additional classified documents were uncovered by Biden’s team came hours after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dodged questions about Biden’s handling of classified information and the West Wing’s management of the discovery.
She had said Wednesday that the White House was committed to handling the matter in the “right way,” pointing to Biden’s personal attorneys’ immediate notification of the National Archives.
But she refused to say when Biden himself had been briefed, whether there were any more classified documents potentially located at other unauthorized locations, and why the White House waited more than two months to reveal the discovery of the initial batch of documents. They were found Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections.
“As my colleagues in the Counsel have stated and said to all of you yesterday, this is an ongoing process under the review of the Department of Justice. So we are going to be limited on what we can say here,” Jean-Pierre said.
The Justice Department is reviewing the records that were found at the Penn Biden Center and Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked John Lausch, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, to review the the matter, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press this week. That person also was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Lausch is one of the few U.S. attorneys to be held over from Trump’s administration.
Biden has said he was “surprised to learn that there are any government records that were taken there to that office” but his lawyers “did what they should have done” when they immediately called the National Archives.
The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has requested that intelligence agencies conduct a “damage assessment” of potentially classified documents.
The revelation also may complicate the Justice Department’s consideration of whether to bring charges against Trump. The Republican is trying to win back the White House in 2024 and has repeatedly claimed the department’s inquiry into his own conduct amounted to “corruption.”
There are significant differences between the Trump and Biden situations, including the gravity of an ongoing grand jury investigation into the Mar-a-Lago matter.