WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden acknowledged Thursday that a document containing classified grades from his time as vice president was found in his “personal library” at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, along with other documents found in his garage, days after of how it became known that confidential documents were also found in the office of his former institute in Washington.
Biden told reporters at the White House that he is “fully and fully cooperating” with the Justice Department’s investigation into how classified information and government documents were stored. He did not say when the latest batch of documents was found, only that a review of potential storage locations by his lawyers was completed late Wednesday. Lawyers found the first set on Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections, but did not publicly announce it until Monday.
Richard Sauber, a special adviser to the president, said that after Biden’s personal lawyers found the original documents, they looked at other places where the records might have been sent after Biden left the vice presidency in 2017.
Sauber said a “small number” of classified documents were found in a storage room in Biden’s garage in Wilmington, with one document in an adjacent room. Biden later revealed that the other location was his personal library.
Biden said the Justice Department was “immediately notified” after the documents were found and that department lawyers had taken custody of the records. The first batch of documents was transferred to the National Office of Archives and Records.
Regardless of the Justice Department’s review, revelations that Biden potentially mishandled classified or presidential records have proved a political headache for Biden, who said former President Donald Trump was “irresponsible” for keeping hundreds of such records at his private club in Florida. .
New House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said of the latest news: “I think Congress should investigate this.”
“Here’s a man who was on ’60 Minutes’ who was so concerned about President Trump’s documents being locked up behind him, and now we’re finding out that this is the vice president who’s been keeping them out in the open in different places for years.”
Contradicting several Republican colleagues, he said, “We don’t think we need a special prosecutor.”
A senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has demanded that intelligence agencies conduct a “damage assessment” of potentially classified documents. Ohio State Representative Mike Turner on Thursday also requested briefings from Attorney General Merrick Garland and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haynes on their reviews by Jan. 26.
“Having classified information in these individual locations could expose the president to mistreatment, potential abuse, and disclosure of classified information,” Turner wrote to officials.
Garland was scheduled to make a statement later Thursday, but the Justice Department did not release details.
Earlier this week, the White House confirmed that the department was reviewing “a small number of classified documents” found in an office in Washington. Biden’s lawyers discovered the material in the offices of the Penn Biden Center and then immediately called the National Archives about the discovery, the White House said. Biden has maintained an office there since leaving the vice presidency in 2017, shortly before launching his 2019 Democratic presidential campaign.
The revelation that Biden’s team had uncovered additional classified documents came hours after White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre dodged questions about Biden’s handling of classified information and management of the West Wing opening.
She said Wednesday that the White House is committed to handling the matter “the right way,” pointing to the immediate notification of Biden’s personal lawyers to the National Archives.
But she declined to say when Biden himself was briefed, whether there were any other classified documents potentially in other unauthorized locations, and why the White House waited more than two months to disclose the discovery of the initial batch of documents.
The Justice Department is reviewing the tapes that were found at the Penn Biden Center, and Garland has asked John Losch, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, to look into the matter, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press this week. That person also was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Lausch is one of the few U.S. attorneys to have been suspended by the Trump administration.
Biden said he was “surprised to learn that any government documents were delivered to this office,” but his attorneys “did what they had to do” when they immediately called the National Archives.
The revelation could also complicate the Justice Department’s consideration of whether to bring charges against Trump. The Republican is trying to win back the White House in 2024 and has repeatedly said the department’s investigation into his own conduct was classified as “corruption.”
There are significant differences between Trump’s and Biden’s situations, including the seriousness of the ongoing grand jury investigation into the Mar-a-Lago case.
Associated Press writers Noman Merchant and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.
Biden says classified document found in ‘personal library’
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