DOJ Obtains More Classified Documents After Searching Biden’s Wilmington Residence

DOJ Obtains More Classified Documents After Searching Biden’s Wilmington Residence

Top line

The Justice Department found additional documents including some with classified markings at President Joe Biden’s residence in Wilmington after a thorough search of the property on Friday, the president’s lawyer said Saturday night, a finding that will draw increased criticism and scrutiny from Republican lawmakers.

Key facts

FBI agents conducted the search after the President voluntarily offered access to the property, his personal lawyer Bob Bauer said.

Investigators seized at least six other items with classified markings — dating back to Biden’s eight-year term as vice president and his time as a U.S. Senator — along with additional materials including several handwritten notes from Biden’s time as vice president.

The search was conducted over nearly 13 hours and investigators had full access to “every work, living and storage space in the house,” the President’s lawyer said.

Bauer added that he was offered voluntary access to the president’s home to help move the investigation into the issue “as quickly as possible.”

US Attorney Joseph Fitzpatrick confirmed the development later Saturday saying that the FBI had completed “a planned, consensual search of the President’s residence in Wilmington.”

Background Keys

Earlier this month, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed US Attorney Robert Hur as special counsel to oversee the investigation into the handling of sensitive government records. Classified documents from Biden’s tenure as Vice President were first uncovered by Penn’s Biden Center in November. Additional such documents were also found at Biden’s Wilmington residence in December and January. In both cases, presidential aides said the documents were immediately returned to the National Archives. Hur is expected to lead the investigation into the Biden documents soon but it is unclear how long such an investigation will take and if the DOJ believes Biden broke any laws by possessing the documents. It is also unclear how this case will affect the ongoing investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Republican lawmakers, however, have indicated they will open their own investigation into Biden’s handling of the documents as the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee demands some documents from the DOJ and Garland. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) also demanded that the White House share visitor logs for Biden’s Wilmington home.

Tangent

Although Friday’s search occurred after a voluntary offer by Biden’s legal team, comparisons to the search of former President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property are likely to come from the FBI’s involvement and search of the president’s personal residence last year. . Biden’s team and even the president himself, however, insisted that his situation is very different from Trump’s by pointing out their cooperation with the Department of Justice on the investigation. Despite this, Trump and his aides insisted that Biden was getting preferential treatment from the DOJ and the former president even asked at one point “When is the FBI going to raid Joe Biden’s multiple homes, maybe even the White House?”

News Peg

Despite Trump’s claims, however, there appear to be some key differences between the two cases as Trump’s property is being searched months after he and his staff refused to comply with a subpoena demanding the records be returned. Trump and his aides also argued that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the former president because he had secretly declassified all the documents in his possession. Although Presidents have broad powers to declassify government documents, they are required to follow a formal process to do so. There is no evidence that such a process was followed.

Further Reading

FBI searched Biden’s home, found items marked classified (Associated Press)

House Oversight Chairman Demands Visitor Logs From Biden House As GOP Vows To Investigate Classified Documents (Forbes)

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