President Joe Biden disembarks Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, after his trip to Wilmington, Delaware. (Adam Schultz/White House/U.S. government works)
WASHINGTON — Department of Justice officials had “unprecedented access” to every room in President Joe Biden’s Delaware home Friday during a search that followed several days of disclosures that classified material from the Obama era had been found in Biden’s garage and think tank office, White House officials said Monday.
The historic 13-hour search of the sitting president’s residence in Wilmington uncovered yet more classified documents from Biden’s tenure as vice president, and dating back to his time as a U.S. senator.
“Let me be very clear, the president offered DOJ access to his home. It was voluntary. They had unprecedented ability to access decades’ worth of old personally handwritten notes, file papers, to-do lists, memorabilia and other materials in his home,” said White House spokesman Ian Sams on a call with reporters Monday.
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Officials, including FBI agents, took possession of “six items consisting of documents with classification markings and surrounding materials,” according to a statement Saturday from Biden’s personal attorney.
U.S. House Republicans launched an investigation earlier this month into the president’s handling of classified materials, saying they are exercising oversight over Biden, just as scrutiny was focused on former President Donald Trump after classified documents were discovered at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair James Comer of Kentucky on Monday in a letter to U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle requested visitor logs for Biden’s Wilmington residence since his time as vice president.
Comer earlier this month wrote to White House Counsel Stuart Delery requesting a list of documents found at the Biden-associated think tank, the Penn Biden Center, and a list of people who had access to Biden’s personal office there.
White House officials responded to Comer Monday, saying that Biden and his team have “fully cooperated” with the National Archives and the Department of Justice-appointed Special Counsel Robert Hur, who is handling the investigation.
“We are reviewing your recent letters with the goal of seeking to accommodate legitimate oversight interests within the Committee’s jurisdiction while also respecting the separation of powers and the constitutional and statutory obligations of the Executive Branch generally and the White House in particular. As I’m sure you are aware, these considerations include the critical need to protect the integrity and independence of law enforcement investigations,” Delery wrote.
Bidens away during search
The Bidens were not at their Wilmington home during Friday’s voluntary search. Rather they were at their other residence in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, a trip that had been “pre-planned,” White House Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday when asked if the Bidens planned to be away during the visit from federal officials.
The classified material uncovered Friday is the latest in a string of discoveries.
Documents with classified markings from the Obama-Biden administration were found in early November in Biden’s office at the Penn Biden Center, in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this month, Biden’s personal lawyers discovered more classified documents over a two-day period in Biden’s garage near his Corvette, and in a room adjacent to the garage.
Biden’s lawyers say they have searched but not found any classified material at his Rehoboth Beach home.
Sams on the call with reporters deflected several questions about the contents of material found, referring reporters instead to the Department of Justice.
“We don’t want to be speaking outside of that process,” Sams told reporters. “… We’re going to try to get you guys access to important information as much as we can while also protecting the integrity of that investigation.”
The DOJ did not respond for comment Monday evening.
Trump is being investigated for possible Espionage Act violations for the handling of classified information that he removed from the White House.
Federal authorities executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and private residence in early August, finding about 100 classified documents out of 11,000 total documents, according to the Justice Department.
The search followed Trump’s return to the National Archives of documents, including 184 with classified markings, that had been held at Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House.
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