US President Joe Biden speaks about his student debt relief plan at Central New Mexico Community College, Nov 3, 2022, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (PATRICK SEMANSKY / AP)
WASHINGTON – Classified documents from Joe Biden's vice-presidential days were discovered in November by the US president's personal attorneys at a Washington think tank, a White House lawyer said on Monday.
Nearly 10 documents were found at Biden's office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, CBS News reported earlier, adding that US Attorney General Merrick Garland had asked the US attorney in Chicago to review the classified documents which were handed over to the National Archives.
The classified material was identified by personal attorneys for Biden on Nov 2, days before the midterm elections, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a statement on Monday.
Nearly 10 classified documents were discovered when Joe Biden's personal attorneys "were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC," Sauber said. He added the White House was cooperating with the Justice Department and the National Archives
The Penn Biden Center is name for Biden, who periodically used the office space from mid-2017 until the start of his 2020 presidential campaign. The White House Counsel's Office notified the National Archives on the day of the discovery of those documents, Sauber said, adding the National Archives took possession of the material on the following morning.
Sauber also said the documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the National Archives.
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The documents were discovered when Biden's personal attorneys "were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC," Sauber said. He added the White House was cooperating with the Justice Department and the National Archives.
The Justice Department, the National Archives and the think tank did not respond to a request for comment. Biden was vice-president under former president Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017.
Sauber's statement did not mention the number of classified documents, what they contained or their level of classification. CBS News reported that they did not contain nuclear secrets.
Representative Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, said in a statement that Biden's attorneys "appear to have taken immediate and proper action" after finding the documents. Raskin said he had confidence Garland will "make an impartial decision about any further action that may be needed."
The Justice Department is separately probing former president Donald Trump's handling of highly sensitive classified documents that he retained at his Florida resort after leaving the White House in January 2021. FBI agents carried out a court-approved search on Aug 8 of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. About 100 documents marked as classified were among thousands of records seized.
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"When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified," Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform late on Monday.