Aides to President Joe Biden located documents with classified marks in two locations inside his home in Wilmington, Delaware, the office of the White House Counsel said Thursday in a statement.
The documents were in a storage area in Biden’s garage and an adjacent room, the statement said. Biden frequently spends weekends at the house, located in a wealthy, forested lakeside enclave.
Speaking Thursday, Biden said the documents were in a “closed garage” and that he was cooperating fully with the Justice Department.
“It’s not like they’re sitting in the street,” he insisted when asked by a reporter why he was storing classified material next to a sports car.
The president said he was “going to have a chance to talk about all of this, God willing, soon.”
The documents were found following a search of the president’s home in Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. No classified documents have been located at the Rehoboth property, according to the statement. The documents were found “among personal and political papers”.
Biden’s attorneys concluded their review of Delaware homes on Wednesday evening.
“As was done in the case of the Penn-Biden Center, the Department of Justice was immediately notified and attorneys arranged for the Department of Justice to take possession of these documents,” the statement said.
A person familiar with the situation said after the statement was released that in the case of the classified documents originally discovered at the Penn-Biden Center, Biden’s attorneys first notified the National Archives — not the Justice Department — who in turn notified the Ministry of Justice. .
Biden’s lawyers followed “proper protocol” by first notifying the Archives of the first batch of classified documents, the person said, but because the Justice Department then got involved and the president’s lawyers then been in contact with them, in the second instance, the lawyers informed the Ministry of Justice.
But key questions remain unanswered about the stash of classified documents, including who brought them to Biden’s private homes and what they specifically contained.
CNN reported Wednesday that Biden’s legal team found another batch of classified documents during a search that began after classified documents were discovered at his former Washington think tank office in early November.
The discovery of the classified documents in his old office in November set off alarm bells inside the White House, where only a small circle of advisers and lawyers knew about the case. An effort has been launched to search for other locations where documents from Biden’s time as vice president might have been stored.
CNN previously reported that the initial batch discovered when Biden’s personal attorneys were packing files in his former private office contained 10 classified documents, including US intelligence documents and briefing notes on Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom.
Some of the classified documents were “top secret”, the highest level. They were found in three or four boxes that also contained unclassified documents under the Presidential Archives Act, CNN reported.
Classified documents are supposed to be stored in secure places. And under the Presidential Archives Act, White House records are supposed to go to the National Archives at the end of an administration.
Ahead of new reports on the second batch of government documents on Wednesday, the White House declined to answer a number of critical questions about classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president discovered in a private office on Wednesday. last fall, citing an ongoing Justice Department review. .
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday declined to answer several questions about the documents, citing the Justice Department’s ongoing review of the case. She could not say who had brought the documents to the office or if any other documents had been found. She also could not say if an audit was underway to locate any other possible documents or when the president had been informed of the discovery of the documents.
“It is being reviewed by the Ministry of Justice. I’m not going to go beyond what the president shared yesterday,” Jean-Pierre said, repeating the explanation in so many words during Wednesday’s press briefing. “I won’t go beyond what my fellow White House counsel have also shared with you all.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.