The Justice Department announced Monday evening it would launch an inquiry into the discovery of classified documents from President Joe Biden’s vice presidency found at his former private office in Washington, D.C.
The Justice Department will launch an inquiry into the discovery of classified documents from President Joe Biden’s vice presidency found at his former private office in Washington, D.C, the White House announced Monday.
- The U.S. attorney in Chicago will oversee the investigation and the FBI is also involved, as first reported by CBS News. The approximately 10 documents marked classified were found by attorneys cleaning out Biden’s former private office but did not contain nuclear secrets, according to CBS News.
- The documents were discovered on Nov. 2, 2022, in a “locked closet” in the offices of the Penn Biden Center, where Biden maintained an office between leaving the vice presidency in 2017 and kicking off his presidential campaign in 2019.
- The White House pledged to work with the Justice Department’s inquiry.
- “Since that discovery, the President’s personal attorneys have cooperated with the Archives and Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives,” said Richard Sauber, Biden’s special counsel, in a statement.
- Biden’s attorneys were packing up the office space before vacating the premises when the classified material was discovered.
- They handed the material over to the National Archives shortly after its discovery, who referred the matter to the FBI.
- Two months before the classified material was discovered, Biden attacked his predecessor Donald Trump, who also faces a Justice Department inquiry into alleged mishandling of classified information. “How anyone could be that irresponsible?” Biden asked in September.
- “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified,” Trump said in a Truth Social post sharing the initial CBS News report.
- Trump’s son Don Jr. tweeted, “We were told for months that this was treasonous… grounds for impeachment… & meriting the death penalty, yet I have a feeling nothing will happen!?”
- Republicans were quick to point out the similarities between the two cases. “President Biden has been very critical of President Trump mistakenly taking classified documents to the residence or wherever and now it seems he may have done the same,” said GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the incoming House Oversight Chairman. “How ironic.”
- The New York Times highlighted the differences between Biden and the Mar-a-Lago investigation. There has been “no indication that Mr. Biden or his team resisted efforts to recover any sensitive documents” and the National Archives did not appear to have requested that the documents be returned.
- John R. Lausch Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and a Trump appointee, will oversee the inquiry, according to the Washington Post. The Post added, “While the Biden case has obvious echoes of the Mar-a-Lago investigation, the details provided by Biden’s lawyer on Monday suggest key differences that could factor heavily in whether the Biden documents become a criminal matter.”
- Biden ignored shouted questions from the press about the classified documents at the North American leaders summit in Mexico City, CNN reported. One former Republican congressman praised Lausch to CNN, saying “the U.S. Attorney in Chicago is a very fair man…and so I think we can trust his word.”
- Sauber, Biden’s counsel, said the papers were a “small number of documents with classified markings,” per the Wall Street Journal. Their level of classification remains unclear, while the 20 boxes of documents confiscated from Mar-a-Lago have been confirmed to contain classified information.
- The Washington Examiner pointed out it’s still unclear how the classified material ended up at Biden’s think tank in the first place, but they are now being held in a secure location while the U.S. attorney investigates the matter.
- “All presidential and vice-presidential records must be transferred to the National Archives under the Presidential Records Act,” according to National Review Online. The DOJ review into why these documents were in Biden’s private office is expected to produce a report, and Attorney General Merrick Garland could appoint a special prosecutor to advance the investigation if he deems it necessary.
© Dominic Moore, 2023