WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) searched US President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday, finding additional documents with classified markings and some handwritten notes from the president, Biden’s lawyer said Saturday. Said to
Although the President voluntarily allowed the FBI to enter his home, the lack of a search warrant did not make the operation any less extraordinary. The incident added to the embarrassment for Biden when it was made public on January 12 that Biden’s lawyers had found a “small number” of classified documents in a former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington shortly before the election. ,
Lawyers later found six classified documents from his time as vice president in the library of Biden’s Wilmington home.
Although Biden has downplayed the episode, the search has become a political liability as the president continues his efforts to present himself to the American public as a picture of formality after the tumultuous tenure of his predecessor, Donald Trump. They are preparing to start their election campaign by reducing Trump.
Bob Bauer, a lawyer for the president, said that during Friday’s search, which lasted about 13 hours, the FBI seized six items containing documents identified as classified. The documents included the time the president served in the Senate and as vice president, while the notes were from his time as vice president.
It was not known at this time what the documents’ classification level was and whether they were still classified as the Justice Department reviewed them.
“We found some documents in the wrong place,” Biden told reporters.
“We immediately handed them over to the Archives and the Department of Justice,” he said.
The President and First Lady Jill Biden were not at home during the search. The couple is spending the weekend at their home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
It remains to be seen whether federal authorities can conduct additional searches elsewhere. Biden’s personal attorneys previously searched the Rehoboth Beach residence and said they did not find any official or classified documents.
The probe also complicates the Justice Department’s inquiries into official documents Trump kept after leaving office. Trump took with him hundreds of documents identified as classified when he left the White House in early 2021, the Justice Department says, and for months resisted calls to return them to the government. Which prompted a search warrant registry to retrieve them.
Bauer said the FBI has requested that the White House not comment on the search before it begins and that both Biden’s personal and White House counsel be present. He added that the FBI had “full access to the president’s home, which included personally handwritten notes, files, documents, folders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules and reminders dating back decades.”
The Justice Department further said it “took possession of materials that are the subject of its investigation, including six items containing classification marks and documents containing surrounding material, some of which were related to the President’s service in the Senate.” ” and others were from his tenure as vice president.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed former Maryland federal prosecutor Robert Hurr as special counsel to investigate any potential wrongdoing surrounding the Biden documents.
“From the beginning, the president has been committed to handling this responsibly because he takes it seriously,” White House counsel Richard Sauber said on Saturday.
“Counsel for the president and White House legal counsel will continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice and the special counsel to help ensure that this process is completed quickly and efficiently.”
The search for documents held by Biden and the Trump investigation, which is in the hands of special legal counsel Jack Smith, are of a different nature. Biden has at all times attempted to cooperate with the Justice Department and Friday’s search was voluntary, though questions remain about his transparency with the public.
For an offense to be committed, a person must “willfully remove” documents without authority to do so and pretend to have placed them in an “unauthorized place”. Biden has said he was “surprised” that classified documents were found at the Penn Biden Center.
In general, classified documents are declassified after a maximum of 25 years. But some are of such importance that they remain secret for much longer with specific exceptions. Biden served in the Senate from 1973 to 2009.
Associated Press writer Seung MN Kim in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, contributed to this report.
Editor’s Note: This dispatch has been corrected to indicate that six items were found with the documents, not six documents.