Given the heavy-handed manner in which President Joe Biden’s administration has gone after his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, over the retention of allegedly classified materials after exiting the White House, there was a rather interesting and ironic revelation on Monday.
According to Biden’s personal attorneys, a number of official government documents marked as classified that date to Biden’s time as vice president were recently discovered in the closet of a Biden-affiliated think tank in Washington D.C., the Daily Wire reported.
Now, the belated announcement of that discovery in early November last year has reportedly sparked a joint investigation by the FBI and a U.S. attorney from the Justice Department.
“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, a special counsel to President Biden, said in a statement Monday, according to CNN.
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,” the attorney continued. “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.”
Sauber added, “The discovery of these documents was made by the President’s attorneys. 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.”
DOJ and FBI investigating
CBS News, which was the first to report on the ironic disclosure, further reported that Attorney General Merrick Garland had assigned U.S. Attorney John Lausch of the Northern District of Illinois to lead an initial investigation, with assistance from the FBI, into how the classified materials ended up at the Penn-Biden Center and whether a more thorough probe, perhaps by an appointed special counsel, would be necessary.
Interestingly, Lausch is one of just two U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Trump who is still employed by the DOJ, with the other being U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, who is leading an investigation into President Biden’s son Hunter over potentially criminal matters.
How the investigation by Lausch plays out remains to be seen, but Trump, in sharing a link to the CBS News report on his Truth Social account, asked, “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified.”
That remark obviously alluded to the unprecedented FBI raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in South Florida in August 2022 to recover allegedly classified materials that he claimed to have previously declassified — as a president and only a president is authorized to do — and retained in his possession after leaving the White House in January 2021.
CNN noted in its report that House Republicans have certainly taken notice of the irony in this revelation about classified materials from then-Vice President Biden’s tenure that were retained and stored at the Penn-Biden Center in D.C. instead of the designated repository at the National Archives.
“President Biden has been very critical of President Trump mistakenly taking classified documents to the residence or wherever and now it seems he may have done the same,” Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the likely next chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement. “How ironic.”
New House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) declined to say whether House Republicans would launch an investigation of their own into the matter but did draw comparisons to how the issue with the Trump documents has been handled by the Biden administration.
“I just think it goes to prove what they tried to do to President Trump overplayed their hand on that,” McCarthy told reporters, per CNN, and added, “It just shows that they were trying to be political with President Trump.”