Federal agents seized handwritten notes from Joe Biden’s beach home in Rehoboth on Wednesday but found no documents marked classified, the president’s attorney said, as the crisis takes yet another troubling turn for the administration.
The Justice Department will review the material they took, which dates from Biden’s time as vice president.
Biden didn’t answer questions on the matter during an economic event at the White House. The president, who is fighting off a cold, sat silently while reporters shouted at him and then were escorted from the room.
Biden cooperated with the three-and-half hour search of his $2.7 million, six-bedroom, 4,800 square foot home in the Delaware beach town, his attorney Bob Bauer said.
‘The DOJ’s planned search of the President’s Rehoboth residences, conducted in coordination and cooperation with the President’s attorneys, has concluded. The search was conducted from 8:30 AM to noon. No documents with classified markings were found,’ Bauer said.
‘Consistent with the process in Wilmington, the DOJ took for further review some materials and handwritten notes that appear to relate to his time as Vice President,’ Bauer said.
Biden’s personal attorney acknowledged the search after various news outlets reported it was taking place, marking yet another occasion the administration made an announcement after journalists uncovered information. It comes as the White House deals with questions about how transparent it has been on the crisis, which keeps growing.
Federal agents from the Department of Justice are searching President Joe Biden ‘s Rehoboth, Delaware beach house for classified documents
Federal agents leave the Rehoboth beach house of President Joe Biden
Every room in the beach house was searched, White House spokesman Ian Sams said on Wednesday.
He wouldn’t say if there are any other areas where Biden has papers – such as his Senate material being housed at University of Pennsylvania – will be searched.
‘Look, I think we are providing information as this goes on and answering questions about the search activities as they have been happening. I don’t want to speak too much to the DoJ practices in an ongoing investigation. I can say that we have cooperated fully,’ he said.
Biden’s attorneys have said there are no classified documents at his beach home, having searched it themselves.
But FBI agents searched Biden’s main residence in Wilmington, Delaware in late January and found more classified documents there after the president’s attorneys had conducted their own search.
And the White House had fielded questions last week about whether a search of his Rehoboth home might happen this past weekend, when Biden was at Camp David and at his Wilmington residence.
But administration officials have declined to answer questions about specifics, citing the ongoing Justice Department investigation.
Biden bought the Rehoboth house for $2.7 million in 2017 when he was vice president. He and first lady Jill Biden often spend weekends there with their pets and their grandchildren.
He was last there the weekend of January 20th through the 23rd.
The administration has faced a series of questions about the classified materials in Biden’s personal possession and their transparency on the matter.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman James Comer on Tuesday night claimed that National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) general counsel Gary Stern told them the agency was prevented from notifying the public that classified documents had been found at Biden’s D.C. think tank back in November, raising questions over who stopped the information from coming out.
Federal agents searched Biden’s Rehoboth home for three-and-a-half hours on Wednesday
President Joe Biden is facing questions about his transparency on documents crisis
It is unclear who stopped the information from being released.
Biden’s attorneys discovered the documents on Nov. 2, 2022, as they closed down his D.C. think tank. It did not disclose their findings until January, after CBS News reported their existence.
And earlier this week, it was revealed that FBI agents searched Biden’s DC think tank office days after the president’s lawyer identified classified material there.
The White House and the Justice Department did not disclose the search, which was reported by CBS News.
White House spokesman Ian Sams was asked about the non-disclosure but argued the administration has been transparent.
‘Yes, I think we have been pretty transparent from the beginning providing information as it occurs throughout this process,’ he said.
It was not immediately known if any additional documents marked classified were uncovered during the search, which took place in mid-November.
In total, there have been five discoveries of classified materials in Biden’s possession: at the Penn-Biden Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C.; in Biden’s garage at his Wilmington, Del., home; one document discovered in his ‘personal library’ in the same home; four more documents found in his home; and then another six found when the Justice Department did another search of his Wilmington residence.
All date back to Biden’s time as vice president under Barack Obama but the White House won’t answer as to what topics the materials cover.
Biden, himself, has taken a personal hit, with his refusal to disclose the initial discovery immediately to the public – especially when it was revealed the documents were found in his think tank six days before the 2022 midterm election.
He has been defensive on the matter, saying ‘there’s nothing there.’
‘I think you’re gonna find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets. I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do. It’s exactly what we’re doing. There’s no there there,’ he said in California last week.
Taking the public beating has been White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who is grilled in her daily press briefings with questions about why the discovery wasn’t publicly disclosed, the validity of the information she is giving to the public, and what else is being kept hidden.
Jean-Pierre has admitted she and her press team learned about the documents’ existence when CBS News asked about it for their story – which was two months after the initial discovery.
She’s also made a series of misstatements – including saying six times the search for more documents was completed, only for five more to be found – that are compounding the public relations problems for the White House.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has the unenviable task of trying to parse the document debacle to the media on a daily basis
All of this – the lack of disclosures, the misstatements, and Biden’s testiness – has contributed to the impression the White House has not been forthcoming and that their strategy on this has been a mistake.
The White House has repeatedly insisted it is cooperating with the Justice Department and following all legal procedures properly. The administration argues it was transparent with the federal government – immediately informing the National Archives of the materials – even if it didn’t disclose it to the general public.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to look into both Donald Trump and Biden’s handling of classified material.
After ignoring requests to turn over presidential records, the Department of Justice authorized a warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. As a result of the search, a Special Counsel to oversee the probe was appointed.
Former President Donald Trump is also under investigation for the mishandling of presidential papers and classified documents after he left office in January 2021
A photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The probe into the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago continues.
The Biden administration has taken pains to point out the differences between the president’s handling of the documents and Trump’s.
The National Archives had repeatedly asked Trump to return official documents taken when he left the White House in January 2021, as required by the Presidential Records Act.
After months of stonewalling, Trump eventually turned over 15 boxes to the National Archives and found classified material. Suspecting Trump hadn’t handed everything over, the federal agency turned to the Justice Department, which ultimately got a federal warrant to search the property.
After that August raid, Trump was found to have hundreds of documents with classified documents in his possession.
Former Vice President Mike Pence also revealed last week that some classified documents were found in his Indiana home. His attorney immediately notified the federal government, and they were turned over to the FBI.