The Biden investigation has also complicated the Justice Department’s probe into Trump’s retention of classified documents and official records after he left office. The Justice Department says Trump took hundreds of records marked classified with him upon leaving the White House in early 2021 and resisted months of requests to return them to the government, and that it had to obtain a search warrant to retrieve them.
Bauer said the FBI requested that the White House not comment on the search before it was conducted, and that Biden’s personal and White House attorneys were present. The FBI, he added, “had full access to the President’s home, including personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders going back decades.”
The Justice Department, he added, “took possession of materials it deemed within the scope of its inquiry, including six items consisting of documents with classification markings and surrounding materials, some of which were from the President’s service in the Senate and some of which were from his tenure as Vice President.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed former Maryland US Attorney Robert Hur as a special counsel to investigate any potential wrongdoing surrounding the Biden documents. Hur is set to take over from the Trump-appointed Illinois US Attorney John Lausch in overseeing the probe.
“Since the beginning, the President has been committed to handling this responsibly because he takes this seriously,” White House lawyer Richard Sauber said on Saturday. “The President’s lawyers and White House Counsel’s Office will continue to co-operate with DOJ and the Special Counsel to help ensure this process is conducted swiftly and efficiently.”
The Biden document discoveries and the investigation into Trump, which is in the hands of special counsel Jack Smith, are significantly different. Biden has made a point of cooperating with the DOJ probe at every turn – and Friday’s search was voluntary – though questions about his transparency with the public remain.
For a crime to have been committed, a person would have to “knowingly remove” the documents without authority and intend to keep them at an “unauthorised location.” Biden has said he was “surprised” that classified documents were uncovered at the Penn Biden Centre.
Generally, classified documents are to be declassified after a maximum of 25 years. But some records are of such value they remain classified for far longer, though specific exceptions must be granted. Biden served in the Senate from 1973 to 2009.