FBI investigators on Friday found additional classified material while conducting a search of President Joe Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home.
Bob Bauer, the president’s personal attorney, said in a statement that during the search, which took place over nearly 13 hours Friday, “DOJ 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. DOJ also took for further review personally handwritten notes from the vice-presidential years.”
The federal search of BIden’s home, while voluntary, marks an escalation of special counsel Robert Hur’s probe into the president’s handling of classified documents and will inevitably draw comparisons to his predecessor, former President Donald Trump – even if the FBI’s search of Trump’s residence was conducted under different circumstances.
The FBI five months ago obtained a search warrant to search Trump’s Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, an unprecedented step that was taken because federal investigators had evidence suggesting Trump had not handed over all classified materials in his possession after receiving a subpoena to turn over classified documents to the National Archives. Trump’s handling of classified material at Mar-a-Lago is also the subject of a special counsel investigation led by Jack Smith.
The search shows that federal investigators are swiftly moving forward with the probe into classified documents found in Biden’s possession. Hur, who was appointed a little more than a week ago, is investigating how the president and his team handled Obama-era classified documents that were recently found in Biden’s private possession.
The FBI search was done with the consent of the president’s attorneys, people briefed on the matter said. The FBI also previously picked up documents found at the residence, which the Biden team disclosed last week.
The search did not require a search warrant or subpoena, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Bauer said that representatives of Biden’s personal legal team and the White House Counsel’s Office were present during the “thorough search,” during which they had “full access” to the Biden home.
Bauer added that the DOJ “requested that the search not be made public in advance, in accordance with its standard procedures, and we agreed to cooperate.”
The first documents were found in Biden’s private office on November 2 but not publicly revealed until earlier this month when CBS first reported their existence.
Since then, another search in December found a “small number” of records with classified markings in the garage of Biden’s Wilmington house and a third discovery was made at the Wilmington residence in January, when Biden’s legal team searched the rest of the property for documents. They found them, in a room adjacent to the garage.
Bauer said in a January 11 statement that once Biden’s personal attorneys found the classified documents, they left the document where it was found and suspended their search of the space where it was located.
“We found a handful of documents were filed in the wrong place,” Biden explained Thursday during a tour of storm damage in California.
“I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets,” Biden continued on Thursday.
Neither Biden nor first lady Dr. Jill Biden were present during the search, special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said in a statement.
Biden, Sauber wrote, “has been committed to handling this responsibly because he takes this seriously” and he and his team are “working swiftly to ensure DOJ and the Special Counsel have what they need to conduct a thorough review.”
Bauer said that investigators had full access to Biden’s home during the search, which included “personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders going back decades.”
Biden is spending this weekend at his Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home. Asked Friday by the Associated Press if the visit had anything to do with documents being found at Biden’s Wilmington home, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referred reporters to White House counsel’s office and the Department of Justice, but said that Biden “often travels to Delaware on the weekends.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting.