WASHINGTON — Attorneys for President Joe Biden discovered classified documents while packing up the Washington office he used after serving as vice president and turned the materials over to the National Archives in November, the White House said in a statement.
“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, an attorney for the president, said in a statement.
The documents were discovered on November 2, 2022 — six days before the midterm elections — and their existence was only made public Monday.
The revelation of the documents comes as the Justice Department has appointed a special counsel to investigate former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified materials at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Federal investigators recovered dozens of classified files during an FBI search of the former president’s residence.
Biden called Trump “totally irresponsible” over his handling of the documents, which reportedly included material related to foreign leaders and nuclear capabilities.
CBS News reported that Attorney General Merrick Garland has tapped John Lausch, the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, to review Biden’s handling of roughly 10 documents, which a source told the network did not contain nuclear materials.
“The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives,” Sauber said. “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.”
Incoming House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer called the discovery “ironic” and said his panel would send a letter to the National Archives seeking to learn what documents were kept and whether a double standard was applied to Biden.
“President Biden was quick to criticize President Trump for having classified documents, and Trump has always said every other president and vice president has kept documents that may have been classified,” the Kentucky Republican said Monday. “I wonder if the National Archive is going to ask the FBI to raid the White House tonight?”
But Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight panel, said in a statement that Biden’s lawyers “appear to have taken immediate and proper action to notify the National Archives about their discovery of a small handful of classified documents found in a locked cabinet at the Penn Biden Center so they could be returned to federal government custody.”
(Bloomberg News reporter Erik Wasson contributed to this article.)