Department of Justice authorities found additional classified material in Wilmington, Delaware, the president’s home Joe Biden during Friday’s consensual search that lasted nearly 13 hours, his personal attorney said in a statement Saturday.
The discovery marked the fourth time since November that classified records or material have been found at Biden’s private address.
The Justice Department seized “six items consisting of classified documents and surrounding material” on Friday, according to his attorney, Bob Bauer, who said the Justice Department was subpoenaed to search.
Some of the items came from Biden’s time in the Senate, where he represented Delaware from 1973 to 2009, and some of the items came from his time as vice president in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017, Bauer said.
In addition to those records, the Justice Department, which did not have a search warrant, also seized some memos Biden wrote by hand as vice president, according to the lawyer and the White House.
According to Richard Sauber, special adviser to the president, neither Biden nor first lady Jill Biden were present for the tour.
Items will join others an undisclosed number of secret government records previously discovered by the president’s lawyers.
A small number of classified records were first found by Biden’s lawyers on Nov. 2 in a private office he kept at a Washington, D.C., think tank after he left in 2017 as vice president of the Obama administration.
The White House did not disclose this discovery until January 9.
On December 20, a small amount of classified records were found in the garage of Biden’s home in Wilmington.
A single page of classified material was found at a Wilmington residence on January 11. The next day, five more pages of classified records were found in a room adjacent to Biden’s garage when Justice Department officials traveled there to seize the single page found the previous day.
The White House said that when the president’s lawyers found the previous documents, they immediately notified the National Archives and Records Administration and the Department of Justice.
Friday’s search was the first public disclosure that federal law enforcement agencies were seeking government documents at Biden’s private addresses.
Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this month appointed a special counsel to investigate Biden’s retention of government records after he was vice president.
Former president Donald Trump is being investigated by another special counsel for taking hundreds of classified records and other government documents out of the White House when he left office. Trump is also being watched for possible obstruction of justice by having government officials seek to obtain those documents.
In early August, the FBI raided Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where they found thousands of pages of government records. The FBI had a search warrant in that case.
By law, presidents and vice presidents must return government documents to the National Archives after leaving office.
Biden and the White House have been criticized for a two-month delay in releasing the first batch of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.
The first finding came six days before the midterm elections, when the balance of party control in both houses of Congress was at stake.
And critics questioned why searches of other private sites maintained by the president were not conducted until after the White House disclosed the initial discovery.
Bauer said in a statement Saturday that the president’s legal team had offered to provide “immediate access” to Biden’s private residence “to allow the Department of Justice to conduct a search of the entire premises for potential vice presidential records and potential classified materials.”
He said the offer was made “in the interests of moving the process forward as quickly as possible”.
“The DOJ requested that the search not be made public in advance, in accordance with its standard procedures, and we agreed to cooperate,” Bauer said.
He said that on Friday, “DOJ completed a thorough search of all materials at the president’s home in Wilmington.”
“It started at approximately 9:45 a.m. and ended around 10:30 p.m. and involved all work, living and storage areas in the home,” Bauer said. “In agreement with the DOJ, representatives from both the staff legal team and the White House counsel’s office were present.”
The Justice Department had “full access to the president’s home,” which included “personal handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders spanning decades.”
“The DOJ took possession of materials it determined as part of its investigation, including six items consisting of classified documents and surrounding materials, some from the president’s service in the Senate and some from his time as vice president. Bauer said.
“The DOJ also took personally handwritten notes from the vice presidential years for further review.”
The lawyer said: “As stated in the statement we issued on January 14, we have attempted to balance the importance of public transparency where appropriate with the established standards and limitations necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
“We will continue to do that throughout our relationship with the DOJ,” Bauer said.
Sauber, Biden’s White House lawyer, said in a statement: “The president and his team are working quickly to ensure that the Justice Department and the special counsel have what they need to conduct a thorough review.”
“From the beginning, the president is determined to approach this responsibly because he takes it seriously,” Sauber said.