The FBI searched U.S. President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., on Friday and located six documents containing classification markings and also took possession of some of his notes, the president’s lawyer said Saturday.
Bob Bauer, the president’s personal lawyer, said the search of the entire premises lasted nearly 13 hours. The documents with classification markings spanned Biden’s time in the Senate and the vice-presidency, while the notes dated to his time as vice-president. The level of classification, and whether they remained classified, was not immediately clear as the Justice Department reviews the records.
The search followed more than a week after Biden’s attorneys found six other classified documents in the president’s home library from his time as vice-president, and nearly three months after lawyers found a small number of classified records at his former offices at the Penn Biden Center in Washington.
It came a day after Biden maintained that “there’s no there there” on the document discoveries, which have become a political headache for the president and complicated the Justice Department’s probe into former president Donald Trump’s retention of classified documents and official records after he left office.
“We found a handful of documents were filed in the wrong place,” Biden told reporters who questioned him during a tour of the damage from storms in California. “We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department.”
Biden said he was “fully co-operating and looking forward to getting this resolved quickly.”
The president and first lady Jill Biden were not at the home when it was searched. They are spending the weekend at their home in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
It remains to be seen whether additional searches by federal officials of other locations might be conducted. Biden’s personal attorneys previously conducted a search of the Rehoboth Beach residence and said they did not find any official documents or classified records.
Bauer said the FBI requested that the White House not comment on the search before it was conducted. He said the FBI “had full access to the President’s home, including personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders going back decades.”
The Justice Department, he added, “took possession of materials it deemed within the scope of its inquiry, including six items consisting of documents with classification markings and surrounding materials, some of which were from the president’s service in the Senate and some of which were from his tenure as vice-president.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed former Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur as a special counsel to investigate any potential wrongdoing surrounding the Biden documents.
“Since the beginning, the president has been committed to handling this responsibly because he takes this seriously,” White House lawyer Richard Sauber said Saturday. “The President’s lawyers and White House Counsel’s Office will continue to cooperate with DOJ and the Special Counsel to help ensure this process is conducted swiftly and efficiently.”
The Biden document discoveries and the investigation into Trump, which is in the hands of special counsel Jack Smith, are significantly different. The Justice Department says Trump took hundreds of records marked classified with him upon leaving the White House in early 2021 and resisted months of requests to return them to the government. Biden has made a point of co-operating with the DOJ probe at every turn, though questions about his transparency with the public remain.