The crisis of classified Biden documents deepens as more papers are discovered
The White House said on Saturday that the crisis surrounding US President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents has deepened after five additional pages were found in his family home in Delaware.
It was the latest in a series of revelations about the apparently improper storage of papers dating back to the Biden era as vice president to Barack Obama. Biden said he does not intend to keep any classified documents.
The latest papers were found, said Richard Sauber, the White House attorney, after he visited the home Thursday to oversee the transfer of the first batch of documents found in a room next to the home’s garage to the Justice Department.
Biden’s personal lawyers were searching the garage at the home in Wilmington, Delaware — where the 80-year-old president often spends weekends — and found a document marked classified in the garage itself.
Those attorneys lacked the necessary security clearance to read it, and so they notified the Justice Department, Sauber said in a statement.
A 1978 law requires US presidents and vice presidents to turn over emails, letters, and other official documents to the National Archives.
Sauber said he had the necessary security clearance, so he then went to a house in Delaware to check the situation himself. He said that when he found the other five pages.
He said all of the documents were handed over “immediately and voluntarily” to the Ministry of Justice.
Biden’s critics have seized on the series of revelations to argue that he has not been transparent and forthright.
Other papers were found on November 2 in Biden’s former office at a Washington think tank, where he had offices after leaving the Obama White House.
The president’s attorneys also found “a small number of documents,” potentially classified, on December 20 in the Wilmington garage, and reported them to the Justice Department.
Amid growing outrage over the revelations in Washington, US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed Robert Hoare as an independent prosecutor to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents.
The case is an unwelcome distraction for Biden as he prepares to announce whether he will seek a second term.
The revelations have drawn comparisons to the case of former President Donald Trump, who is also under investigation by special counsel for allegedly storing hundreds of classified materials at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida home, and allegedly obstructing government efforts to retrieve them.
In contrast, Sauber stressed that Biden returned the documents “immediately and voluntarily” when they came to light.
“I take classified documents and classified materials very seriously,” Biden told reporters Thursday. “We are cooperating fully (and) fully with the Justice Department’s review.”
“As part of this process, the attorneys reviewed other places where documents from my time as vice president were stored, and they finished the review last night.”
The first stash of Biden documents was discovered in November, a week before last year’s midterm elections, but was only acknowledged by the White House on Monday, prompting accusations from Republicans of keeping them secret for political reasons.
Republicans, newly in control of the House, have vowed to launch an investigation headed by James Comer, a Kentucky governor who chairs an oversight committee.
“The secrecy of the Biden White House on this matter is troubling,” Kummer said in a statement. “Equally troubling is the fact that Biden aides have been combing through documents knowing there will be a special counsel appointed.”
“Many questions need to be answered but one thing is certain: oversight is coming,” he said, condemning what he called “President Biden’s three strikes against transparency.”