Several classified documents from President Joe Biden’s time as vice president were discovered last fall in a private office, Biden’s attorneys acknowledged Monday.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked the US attorney in Chicago to investigate the matter, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN, and congressional Republicans are also taking notice.
Biden’s lawyers say they found the government materials in November while closing out a Washington, DC-based office – the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement – that Biden used as part of his relationship with the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an honorary professor from 2017 to 2019.
Fewer than a dozen classified documents were found at Biden’s office, another source told CNN. It is unclear what the documents pertain to or why they were taken to Biden’s private office. Federal officeholders are required by law to relinquish official documents and classified records when their government service ends.
“The White House is cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice regarding the discovery of what appear to be Obama-Biden Administration records, including a small number of documents with classified markings,” Richard Sauber, special counsel to President Biden, said in a statement. “The documents were discovered when the President’s personal attorneys were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. The President periodically used this space from mid-2017 until the start of the 2020 campaign. On the day of this discovery, November 2, 2022, the White House Counsel’s Office notified the National Archives. The Archives took possession of the materials the following morning.”
“The discovery of these documents was made by the President’s attorneys,” Sauber added. “The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives. Since that discovery, the President’s personal attorneys have cooperated with the Archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives.”
CBS News first reported on the documents.
The classified materials included some top-secret files with the “sensitive compartmented information” designation, also known as SCI, which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from intelligence sources.