U.S. Justice Dept found more classified items in Biden home search

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WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – A new search of President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday by the U.S. Justice Department found six more items, including documents with classification markings, a lawyer for the president said in a statement Saturday night.

Some of the classified documents and “surrounding materials” dated from Biden’s tenure in the U.S. Senate, where he represented Delaware from 1973 to 2009, according to his lawyer, Bob Bauer. Other documents were from his tenure as vice president in the Obama administration, from 2009 through 2017, Bauer said.

The Department of Justice, which conducted a search that lasted over 12 hours, also took some notes that Biden had personally handwritten as vice president, according to the lawyer.

The president offered access “to his home to allow DOJ to conduct a search of the entire premises for potential vice-presidential records and potential classified material,” Bauer said.

Neither Biden nor his wife were present during the search, the attorney said. Biden is in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for the weekend.

Justice Department investigators coordinated the search with Biden’s lawyers ahead of time, Bauer said, and the president’s personal and White House lawyers were present at the time.

Other classified government records were discovered this month at Biden’s Wilmington residence, and in November at a private office he maintained at a Washington, D.C., think tank after ending his tenure as vice president in the Obama administration in 2017.

On Saturday, Bauer did not make clear in his statement where in the Wilmington home the documents were found. The previous classified documents were found in the home’s garage and in a nearby storage space.

The search shows federal investigators are swiftly moving forward with the probe into classified documents found in Biden’s possession. This month, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland named a special counsel to probe the matter.

Special counsel Robert Hur, who was appointed during the process, is investigating how the president and his team handled Obama-era classified documents that were recently found in Biden’s private possession.

Biden’s lawyers found all the documents discovered before Friday’s search by the DOJ, according to the White House. The latest search was the first time federal law enforcement authorities have conducted a search for government documents at Biden’s private addresses, according to information released publicly.

Republicans have compared the investigation to the ongoing probe into how former President Donald Trump handled classified documents after his presidency. The White House has noted that Biden’s team has cooperated with authorities in their probe and had turned over those documents. Trump resisted doing so until an FBI search in August at his Florida resort.

The search escalates the legal and political stakes for the president, who has insisted that the previous discovery of classified material at his home and former office would eventually be deemed inconsequential.

Biden said on Thursday he has “no regrets” about not publicly disclosing before the midterm elections the discovery of classified documents at his former office and he believed the matter will be resolved.

“There is no there, there,” Biden told reporters during a trip to California on Thursday.

Since the discovery of Biden’s documents, Trump has complained that Justice Department investigators were treating his successor differently.

“When is the F.B.I. going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?” Trump said in a social media post earlier this month.

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