The FBI searched President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday and found additional documents with classified markings. Some of the handwritten notes were also seized, the president’s lawyer said on Saturday.
The President voluntarily let the FBI into his home, but the absence of a warrant did not overshadow the extraordinary nature of the search. This added to Biden’s embarrassment, beginning with the disclosure on January 12 that the president’s lawyers had found “a small number” of classified recordings in a former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington shortly before the midterm elections. Since then, lawyers have found six classified documents in Biden’s Wilmington home library from when he was vice president.
While Biden claimed “there’s nothing out there”, the discoveries became a political responsibility as he prepared to launch his re-election campaign, undermining his efforts to present an image of manners to the American people after his turbulent presidency. predecessor Donald Trump.
During the nearly 13-hour search on Friday, the FBI’s special counsel, Bob Bauer, said the FBI seized six items containing documents with classified markings. While the items cover Biden’s time in the Senate and the vice presidency, the notes said they were from his time as vice president. As the Justice Department reviewed the records, it was not immediately clear the level of classification and whether the documents removed by the FBI remained classified.
Assistant US Attorney General Joseph Fitzpatrick confirmed on Saturday that the FBI was conducting a “planned, consensual search” of the president’s residence in Wilmington.
President and First Lady Jill Biden was absent when the house was searched. They were spending the weekend at their home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Speaking to reporters during a trip to California on Thursday, Biden said he “cooperates fully and looks forward to a speedy resolution of this issue”.
“We found a handful of documents filed in the wrong place,” Biden said. “We immediately handed them over to the Archives and the Ministry of Justice.”
It is not yet clear whether additional searches will be conducted elsewhere by federal authorities. Biden’s personal lawyers had previously searched the Rehoboth Beach residence and said they could not find any official documents or confidential records.
The Biden investigation has also complicated the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s retention of classified documents and official records after he left office. The Justice Department said Trump took hundreds of records marked confidential with him as he left the White House in early 2021, resisting months-long requests to have them returned to the government and should obtain a search warrant to retrieve them.
Bauer said the FBI had asked the White House not to comment before the call was made, and Biden’s personal and White House attorneys were present. The FBI added that it “had full access to the President’s home, including personally handwritten notes, files, documents, folders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders dating back decades.”
The Biden document discoveries and the Trump investigation at the hands of special counsel Jack Smith are significantly different. Biden has been careful to cooperate with the DOJ investigation at every opportunity—and Friday’s call was optional—but questions remain about his public transparency.
For a crime to be committed, a person must “knowingly” remove documents without authorization and intend to keep them “in an unauthorized place”. Biden said he was “surprised” at the discovery of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center.