WASHINGTON — According to a person familiar with the matter, aides to President Joe Biden discovered at least one additional batch of classified documents in a location separate from the Washington office he used after leaving the Obama administration.
Since November, following the discovery of documents with classified markings in his former office, Biden aides have been searching for any additional classified materials that may be in other locations he used, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide details about the ongoing investigation.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department had no comment.
The discovery of classified documents in an office used by Biden after his vice presidency was first reported on Monday by CBS News.
The classification level, number, and precise location of the additional documents were not immediately clear. It was also unclear when the additional documents were discovered or whether the search for any other classified materials Biden may have from the Obama administration was completed.
According to a person familiar with the situation, Biden aides have been sifting through documents stored at locations other than his former Washington office to see if there are any other classified documents that need to be turned over to the National Archives and reviewed by the Justice Department.
The search was described as exhaustive, with the goal of obtaining a full accounting of all classified documents that may have been inadvertently packed in boxes when Biden cleared out of the vice president’s office space in January 2017.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., reacted on social media minutes after the NBC News report on the new documents, tweeting “Special counsel.”
On Monday, the White House issued a statement confirming that on November 2, a “small number of documents” with classified markings that appeared to be from the Obama administration were discovered at a Washington think tank linked to Biden.
The documents were discovered in a locked closet by Biden’s attorneys as they prepared to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, said Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, in a statement Monday.
The University of Pennsylvania had leased a suite of offices for the centre in February 2018, including one for then-private citizen Biden’s personal use while in Washington.
Biden told reporters on Tuesday that he was “surprised” by the discovery and didn’t know what was in the documents.
According to three congressional staffers, the chair and vice chair of the Senate intelligence committee have written to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines requesting access to the classified documents, a damage assessment by the intelligence community, and a briefing on both the Biden and Trump documents. This request is similar to how the committee requested information following the raid at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s Florida resort, according to staffers.
According to Sauber, Biden’s lawyers immediately notified the National Archives about the discovery, and the agency took control of the documents the next day.
According to two people familiar with the situation, less than a dozen documents with classified markings were discovered at the office.
The Archives referred the case to the Justice Department.
According to a source familiar with the matter, US Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked John R. Lausch, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and a holdover Trump appointee, to investigate how the classified material ended up in the closet.
“We are fully cooperating,” Biden said on Tuesday.
Trump’s possession of over 100 documents with classified markings, despite being subpoenaed for their return, is the subject of a federal criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
Trump has repeatedly mocked Biden on his Truth Social account, claiming that he was unfairly targeted by federal investigators, despite the fact that his and Biden’s cases have very different fact sets. “A huge Scam,” he wrote.
Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer and frequent Trump critic, tweeted following the NBC report: “Nothing I’ve seen has convinced me that Biden and his team are not in danger of criminal prosecution, at least for the time being. I have no reason to believe that this changes the calculus on a Trump indictment. That being said, Biden’s staff’s sloppiness irritates me.”