The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) searched US President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday, where it found additional documents with classified marks and removed some handwritten notes from the president, the lawyer said. Biden on Saturday.
Although the president voluntarily allowed the FBI into his home, the lack of a search warrant did not make the operation any less extraordinary. The event adds to the controversy for Biden that began when it was made public on January 12 that Biden’s lawyers had found a “small number” of classified documents in a former office in the Penn Biden Center in Washington, shortly before the election of half legislature.
Lawyers later found six classified documents in the library of Biden’s Wilmington home from his time as vice president.
Although Biden has downplayed the episode, the discoveries have become a political liability as the president prepares to launch his re-election campaign, undermining his efforts to present himself as the picture of formality to the American public after the checkered tenure of Biden. his predecessor, Donald Trump.
During Friday’s search, which lasted nearly 13 hours, the FBI seized six items containing documents identified as classified, said Bob Bauer, the president’s attorney. The documents covered the time when the president served in the Senate and as vice president, while the notes date from his time as vice president.
It was not known at this time the level of classification of the documents and if they were still classified because the Department of Justice has them under review.
“We found a small number of documents stored in the wrong place,” Biden told reporters who asked him about the matter as the president was touring storm-damaged areas in California.
“We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Department of Justice,” he added.
The president and first lady Jill Biden were not at the 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 could conduct additional searches elsewhere. Biden’s personal lawyers earlier conducted a search of the Rehoboth Beach residence and said they had found no official or classified documents.
The investigation has also complicated Justice Department inquiries into classified and official documents Trump retained after leaving office. The Justice Department says that when Trump left the White House in early 2021, Trump took with him hundreds of documents identified as classified, and resisted calls for months to return them to the government, prompting a search warrant. registry to retrieve them.
Bauer said the FBI requested that the White House not comment on the search before it took place, and that both Biden’s personal and White House attorneys be present. He added that the FBI “had full access to the President’s home, including personally handwritten notes, files, documents, folders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders going back decades.”
The Department of Justice, it added, “took possession of materials it deemed to be within the scope of its investigation, including six items consisting of documents with classification marks and surrounding materials, some of which belonged 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 Hur 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 Saturday.
“Counsels for the President and the White House Legal Counsel will continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice and Special Counsel to help ensure that this process is completed quickly and efficiently.”
The discoveries of the documents in Biden’s possession and the investigation of Trump, which is in the hands of special legal counsel Jack Smith, are of a different nature. Biden has strived to collaborate with the Justice Department at all times and Friday’s search was voluntary, although questions remain about his transparency with the public.
For a crime to have been committed, a person would have to “knowingly remove” the documents without authority to do so and pretend to keep them in an “unauthorized location”. Biden has said he was “shocked” 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.