US authorities have found a new batch of classified documents at Joe Biden’s private residence, adding fuel to a growing political furore about the potential mishandling of sensitive government files.
Bob Bauer, Biden’s personal attorney, in a statement on Saturday said the Department of Justice found materials including six documents with classification markings in a search it carried out on Friday at the president’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Bauer said the DoJ had “full access” to the residence, including memorabilia, handwritten notes, schedules and to-do lists. Some of the material in the agency’s possession was from Biden’s time in the Senate, and some of it from his tenure as Barack Obama’s vice-president, he added.
“[I]n the interest of moving the process forward as expeditiously as possible, we offered to provide prompt access to his home to allow DoJ to conduct a search of the entire premises for potential vice-presidential records and potential classified material,” Bauer said. Biden’s personal attorneys were “fully” co-operating with authorities, he added.
The new findings came less than two weeks after Merrick Garland, US attorney-general, appointed a special counsel to probe the potential mishandling of files, citing “extraordinary circumstances”. Robert Hur, a Washington-based lawyer and former federal prosecutor, was chosen for the role.
The DoJ described it as a “planned, consensual search”.
Biden’s personal attorneys in November discovered sensitive material at an office that had been used by him at the Penn Biden Center in Washington. Other documents were previously found at his private residence.
Richard Sauber, special counsel to Biden, said in a statement on Saturday the president “has been committed to handling this responsibly because he takes this seriously.” Neither Biden nor his wife Jill were present during the DoJ’s search of the Wilmington home, Sauber added.
Republicans have hammered Biden over the discoveries, as well as what they have described as a lack of transparency in disclosures about the documents. Republican leaders on the House judiciary committee have launched an investigation into the matter.
It has cast a cloud over the White House as Biden gears up for an expected re-election bid in 2024, handing ammunition to Republicans and causing some unease among Democrats who had grown hopeful about their prospects of retaining the White House after a better than expected showing in the 2022 midterm elections.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, faces a criminal investigation into the handling of classified government files that was found at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in a raid by FBI agents last year. White House officials and Democrats have attempted to play down comparisons between the two probes, however, given Trump had refused to hand the material over, while Biden voluntarily disclosed the matter and documents were secured in national archives facilities.