Lawyers for President Joe Biden have discovered additional documents with classified markings in a storage space in the garage of his Wilmington, Del., residence, the special counsel to the president announced Thursday.
The lawyers found the Obama-Biden administration records during a search completed Wednesday night of Biden’s residences in both Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Del. All but one of the documents were found in a storage space in Biden’s Wilmington garage, with one other record found in an adjacent room, Special Counsel to the President Richard Sauber said in a statement.
“As I said earlier this week, people know I take classified documents and classified materials seriously,” Biden said following remarks on the economy and inflation Thursday, just after the news broke of the additional documents being discovered. “I also said we’re cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department’s review.”
It’s the second batch of documents marked classified discovered in a space used by Biden since the end of the Obama administration. The previous set, found at a Biden-affiliated think tank on Nov. 2 and publicly disclosed earlier this week, triggered the broader search and a move by the Justice Department to scrutinize the discoveries.
“As we stated previously, we are fully cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in possession of the Archives,” Sauber said in the statement.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday afternoon that he had appointed a special counsel to review the storage of the records. Former U.S. attorney Robert Hur will lead the probe, Garland announced.
“The extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter,” Garland said during a press conference. “This appointment underscores for the public, the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. And to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”
Biden’s special counsel said the lawyers conducted the review at the president’s Delaware residences — where additional documents might have been shipped during the presidential transition in 2017 — following the discovery of the documents at the Penn Biden Center in November, coordinating closely with the Justice Department in the search. DOJ was immediately notified after the discovery of the documents in Wilmington, Sauber said, and Biden’s lawyers arranged for the government to take possession of the records. He added that the White House will continue cooperating with DOJ’s review.
Biden contended on Thursday — while answering reporters’ questions following his speech — that the documents were at least partially secure because they were in a locked space.
“By the way, my Corvette’s in a locked garage, okay?” he said, responding to a reporter’s question about why he’d store documents next to his Corvette. “So it’s not like they’re sitting out in the street.”
Former President Donald Trump made similar claims after the discovery of classified records at Mar-a-Lago, noting that he put a lock on the door where the documents were housed and that his estate was protected by the Secret Service. But both measures fell short of the requirements for safeguarding national security secrets.
The news of documents found at Biden’s residence now adds to the already sharp scrutiny that fell on the president following the discovery of records at the Penn Biden Center. Republicans, in particular, have been quick to pile on the president in recent days as they draw comparisons to the classified records situation with Trump, who they contend was treated unfairly.
House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) on Thursday called the discovery of documents in Wilmington “very concerning,” asking “what is the vice president doing with classified documents?” He added that “we saw the outrage by Democrats” when Trump used the argument that the president is the only person with the ability to declassify documents.
“We saw the FBI have a sense to raid Mar-a-Lago and go through every room getting the security cameras. Now what we know is supposedly lawyers for Joe Biden, who we don’t even know who those lawyers are, much less who their clients are, found some documents and just turned them in and everything is hunky dory,” Comer said on Fox.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during a press conference Thursday called the newfound documents “another faux pas by the Biden administration,” going on to draw a distinction with the way Trump was treated during the Mar-a-Lago search. He added that Congress should investigate the discovery of the records.
“Here is an individual who has been in office more than 40 years, an individual who said on ’60 Minutes’ that [he] was so concerned about President Trump’s documents,” McCarthy said. “And now we find it, just as the vice president, keeping it for years out in the open in different locations.”
Though the records both Biden and Trump had in their position were supposed to go to the National Archives and Records Administration — per the Presidential Records Act — during their transitions of power, there are key differences in the two presidents’ cases. Trump and his team of lawyers largely resisted the probe of his possession of the records, while Biden’s own lawyers reported the discovery of the additional documents, and the Biden administration has seemingly cooperated with DOJ. Trump also reportedly had several hundred files with classified markings at Mar-a-Lago, while so far, only a “small number” of documents marked as classified have been found in Biden’s possession, according to the White House.