Biden Lawyer Finds More Classified Documents at President’s Home

(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden’s lawyers discovered more classified material at his Wilmington, Delaware, home than previously announced, the White House said Saturday — deepening a crisis that threatens to sap any political momentum for the president.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Five additional pages of classified documents were found this week during a search of a room adjacent to Biden’s garage, bringing the total to six, White House attorney Richard Sauber said in a statement.

Two days ago, Sauber said just one page was found in that room and that Biden’s lawyers had “completed” their review of classified materials from his vice presidency discovered at locations connected to him.

The latest announcement will further fuel the controversy over Biden’s handling of sensitive government information and the White House’s decision to conceal the discoveries of the documents from the public for months. The president and his aides face a political crisis ahead of the expected launch of his 2024 re-election campaign, as well as potential legal jeopardy as a special counsel led by a Donald Trump-appointed prosecutor investigates the matter.

The new documents were discovered after Biden’s personal lawyers, who conducted the initial search, discontinued their work after finding a single page of classified material in a room near Biden’s garage because they lacked security clearances, Sauber said. Sauber, who has a clearance, resumed the search himself in Thursday while in Wilmington, in the company of Justice Department officials.

“While I was transferring it to the DOJ officials who accompanied me, five additional pages with classification markings were discovered among the material with it, for a total of six pages. The DOJ officials with me immediately took possession of them,” Sauber said.

Sauber had said earlier this week that the searches of Biden’s properties had concluded Wednesday night. Asked Thursday if that meant there was no search underway, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded, “you should assume that it’s been completed, yes.”

Biden’s personal lawyer Bob Bauer sought to explain the discrepancy, saying that once the personal attorneys saw material marked classified, they suspended their search.

“It is for this reason that the president’s personal attorneys do not know the precise number of pages in the discovered material, nor have they reviewed the content of the documents,” Bauer said in a statement on Saturday.

Still, the announcement intensified questions about how the White House has informed the public of the discoveries. Saturday’s statements did not explain why Biden’s lawyers waited two days to reveal that more documents were found at the president’s home. Biden was at his Wilmington house when the statements were released.

The White House is already under fire for waiting two months to announce the original discovery of classified documents at an office Biden used after his vice presidency. Those documents were discovered Nov. 2, six days before midterm elections in which voters decided control of Congress.

Bauer said that Biden’s personal lawyers “have attempted to balance the importance of public transparency where appropriate with the established norms and limitations necessary to protect the investigation’s integrity.”

The November discovery at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Public Engagement in Washington prompted searches of other places where Biden may have kept records from his time in office, including his two Delaware homes. Additional classified documents were discovered in the garage of his Wilmington home on Dec. 20, and then in an adjoining room this week.

Biden has said he was “surprised” that classified material was discovered at the Penn Biden Center and that he didn’t know what was in that set of documents. He has said little about the documents discovered at his home, beyond quipping Thursday that “my Corvette’s in a locked garage, so it’s not like they’re sitting out in the street.”

Sauber has previously said that classified documents in Biden’s possession were “inadvertently misplaced” and that he and his lawyers “acted promptly” once the “mistake” was discovered.

But the White House has offered no explanation of why the documents were improperly removed after Biden’s vice presidency concluded, how they found their way to locations connected to him, why his aides waited to disclose their existence and who might have had access to the materials.

‘Oversight Is Coming’

House Republicans, whom Biden had ridiculed for the tortured efforts to select their leadership, have seized on the situation. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Representative James Comer of Kentucky, has written the National Archives and White House counsel’s office demanding records of communications about the discovery of the Biden documents.

“Are there more classified documents to be found?” Comer said in a statement after Saturday’s revelations, accusing the White House of “alarming” secrecy.

“Many questions need to be answered but one thing is certain: oversight is coming,” he said.

On Friday, Comer attempted to rope Biden’s son, Hunter, into the controversy, suggesting that he may have had access to the documents found at Biden’s Wilmington home. Hunter Biden has publicly acknowledged struggles with drug abuse, and Republicans are separately investigating whether he sought to enter business deals revolving around his access to his father.

Republicans have also accused Biden of hypocrisy, noting that he has criticized his predecessor, Trump, as “totally irresponsible” for possessing hundreds of pages of classified documents at his Palm Beach, Florida, home.

Unlike Biden and his lawyers, who say they immediately turned over the documents found at his office and home to the government, Trump and his associates allegedly resisted returning all of the records at his Mar-a-Lago resort to the Archives. That prompted an FBI search of the property in August in which several boxes of material were discovered in Trump’s office and a storage room near areas of the resort accessible to club members.

A separate special counsel is already investigating Trump’s handling of classified materials.

--With assistance from Akayla Gardner.

(Updates with Comer statement in 18th paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.