WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden’s special counsel confirmed on Monday (local time) that classified documents from his time as vice president were discovered in a private office space and turned over to the National Archives in November, reported CNN.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has assigned the US attorney in Chicago to review documents marked classified that were found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, two sources with knowledge of the inquiry told CBS News.
The roughly 10 documents are from President Biden’s vice-presidential office at the centre, sources said. CBS News has learned the FBI is also involved in the US attorney’s inquiry.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked the US attorney in Chicago to investigate the matter, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN, and congressional Republicans are also taking notice.
It is unclear what the documents pertain to or why they were taken to Biden’s private office. Federal officeholders are required by law to relinquish official documents and classified records when their government service ends.
“The White House is cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice regarding the discovery of what appear to be Obama-Biden Administration records, including a small number of documents with classified markings,” Richard Sauber, special counsel to President Biden, said in a statement.
“The documents were discovered when the President’s personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Centre in Washington. The President periodically used this space from mid-2017 until the start of the 2020 campaign. On the day of this discovery, November 2, 2022, the White House Counsel’s Office notified the National Archives. The Archives took possession of the materials the following morning. The discovery of these documents was made by the President’s attorneys,” Sauber added.
“The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives. Since that discovery, the President’s personal attorneys have cooperated with the Archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives,” he added.
The classified materials included some top-secret files with the ‘sensitive compartmented information’ designation, also known as SCI, which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources, reported CNN.
Notably, classified documents were similarly found outside the National Archives last summer when the FBI seized boxes of records from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
The Department of Justice is investigating Trump for his handling of classified information, though Trump has claimed that presidents can declassify documents “even by thinking about it.”
It’s unclear if any investigation will be launched based on the discovery of records in the private office Biden used.
The National Archives and the Department of Justice did not immediately return requests for comment.