(Headline USA) With the damning revelation that President Joe Biden had mishandled classified materials from the Obama administration, discovered on Nov. 2 in a closet at the Penn Biden Center’s Washington, D.C., office, the 80-year-old Biden quickly disavowed any knowledge of the documents.
But doing so for the second batch, revealed late Wednesday, may prove to be more of a challenge since they were found in his private home in in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden acknowledged on Thursday that a document with classified markings from his time as vice president was found in his “personal library,” along with other documents found in his garage.
The scandal is particularly troubling given the fact that Biden’s Justice Department already drew heat for a politically motivated investigation of his 2020 rival—and potential 2024 rival—former President Donald Trump.
After the FBI took the unprecedented step of raiding Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Biden claimed that Trump’s behavior was “irresponsible”—with the full knowledge, perhaps, that he had purloined papers of his own while lacking the presidential authority to declassify any materials at his discretion, which Trump had.
Even more outrageous is that officials across several government agencies, including the DOJ and the National Archives, may have conspired to cover up Biden’s criminal conduct until after the 2022 midterm election, even as they weaponized Trump’s conduct to create political talking points against Republicans.
Biden told reporters at the White House that he is “cooperating fully and completely” with a Justice Department investigation into how classified information and government records were stored.
But he also appeared to downplay the obvious severity of the situation, shrugging off the fact that the materials were in a “locked garage.” Trump stored his in a well-secured vault.
Fox News’s White House correspondent, Peter Doocy, went so far as to ask the president directly to his face, “What were you thinking?” before Biden proceeded on a tangent about his Corvette.
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) January 12, 2023
Biden did not say when the latest series of documents were found, only that his lawyers’ review of potential storage locations was completed Wednesday night.
Richard Sauber, a special counsel to the president, said after the initial documents were found by Biden’s personal lawyers, they examined other locations where records might have been shipped after Biden left the vice presidency in 2017.
Statement from White House Counsel's Office on ongoing cooperation with the Archives and Department of Justice: pic.twitter.com/Dn3F8Oqggd
— Ian Sams (@IanSams46) January 12, 2023
Sauber said a “small number” of documents with classified markings were found in a storage space in Biden’s garage in Wilmington, with one document being located in an adjacent room. Biden later revealed that the other location was his personal library.
Biden said the Department of Justice was “immediately notified” after the documents were located and that department lawyers took custody of the records. The first batch of documents had been turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration.
The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has requested that intelligence agencies conduct a “damage assessment” of potentially classified documents. Ohio Rep. Mike Turner on Thursday also requested briefings from Attorney General Merrick Garland and the director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, on their reviews by Jan. 26.
“The presence of classified information at these separate locations could implicate the President in the mishandling, potential misuse, and exposure of classified information,” Turner wrote the officials.
The revelation that additional classified documents were uncovered by Biden’s team came hours after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dodged questions about Biden’s handling of classified information and the West Wing’s management of the discovery.
She had said Wednesday that the White House was committed to handling the matter in the “right way,” pointing to Biden’s personal attorneys’ immediate notification of the National Archives.
But she refused to say when Biden himself had been briefed, whether there were any more classified documents potentially located at other unauthorized locations, and why the White House waited more than two months to reveal the discovery of the initial batch of documents.
“As my colleagues in the Counsel have stated and said to all of you yesterday, this is an ongoing process under the review of the Department of Justice. So we are going to be limited on what we can say here,” Jean-Pierre said.
The Justice Department is reviewing the records that were found at the Penn Biden Center, and Garland has asked John Lausch, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, to review the the matter, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press this week.
Lausch is one of the few U.S. attorneys to be held over from Trump’s administration.
Biden has said he was “surprised to learn that there are any government records that were taken there to that office” but his lawyers “did what they should have done” when they immediately called the National Archives.
The revelation also may 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 claimed the department’s inquiry into his own conduct amounted to “corruption.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press