Revelations Grow on Joe Biden’s Handling of Classified Documents; here’s what we know so far

Correction and clarification: An earlier version of this story misstated Sen. Chris Coons’ home state. He is from Delaware.

WASHINGTON – The revelation that the F.B.I additional classified documents found during a Friday search of the president personal residence in Delaware sparks a new investigation into Joe Biden’s handling of sensitives and in some cases classified Information.

Lawyers for Biden emphasized in statements Saturday evening that the President cooperates with the Department of Justice and special counsel investigation and said the search of his WilmingtonDelaware, stay was voluntary.

The FBI called it planned and consensual in a statement.

But the search, which the president’s legal team waited to reveal until a full day later, is generating new questions about White House transparency whether the issue that Biden suggested last week is insignificant.

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What do we know about Joe Biden’s classified documents?

More than a dozen classified documents have been discovered in Biden’s personal offices.

An initial batch of documents was discovered at the Biden Penn Center last year, just before the midterm elections. Their existence was not made public by the White House. CBS reported on the documents in January, prompting a congressional investigation.

A subsequent search of Biden’s beach home turned up no additional documents, the White House said.

But lawyers for Biden found six pages of classified material at his residence in Wilmington. And at least six additional documents were uncovered during a secondary search of Biden’s home conducted Friday by the DOJ. Biden attorney Bob Bauer says some handwritten notes from his vice presidential tenure were also seized.

What are people saying?

  • “Every day it seems they find more documents.” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Although it was consensual, the search … the FBI conducted the search, not his lawyers. It really elevates the investigation.”

  • “I think he should have a lot to regret,” Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

  • “There is an important document that separates former President Trump from President Biden, it’s a warrant,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.., said on ABC’s “This Week,” pointing out that the search of Biden’s home was voluntary .

  • “When Joe Biden says he has no regrets, I think that’s very troubling here,” said Rep. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “We need to know who had access to these documents.”

  • “Why did he have these? Who did he show them to?” said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio., on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

What happened at Biden’s home in Delaware?

Late Saturday, the Justice Department confirmed that the FBI spent most of the day and night Friday conducting a “planned, consensual search” of Biden’s home in Wilmington.

Biden was not there for the search, which, according to the White House, took place from early morning until 10:30 at night. He spends the weekend at his estate in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

An official said the search was not subject to any court-authorized process, including an approved search warrant at Biden’s home.

The most recent search: More Biden documents found after DOJ searched his Delaware home

How does this differ from Trump’s handling of classified documents?

A Florida judge approved a warrant in early August in a similar investigation into the personal possession of classified documents involving former President Donald Trump. Judges authorize such search warrants only if the requesting authorities show reason to believe that either a crime was committed there or that evidence of such a crime could be found.

Mar-a-Lago ordered authorized FBI agents — accompanied by a Justice Department prosecutor — to search Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., home and private club, and haul away dozens of boxes of documents. There was no warrant in the search of Biden’s residence last week.

The Mar-a-Lago search was completed only after months of back-and-forth between Trump and the National Archives and Justice Department, which wanted him to return classified documents he had indicated he had in his possession. Trump refused, saying he had personally declassified some, if not all, under his broad powers as president and that they were part of his personal papers.

Did the FBI raid Biden’s home?

No, the search was consensual, anticipated and coordinated between both parties. The Mar-a-Lago search was also not a raid, even though it was conducted on the basis of a court-approved warrant.

Officials in the Biden administration have sought to portray themselves as far more proactive and cooperative than Trump’s lawyers, voluntarily searching his homes and offices in recent weeks in an effort to find more potentially problematic documents. However, they have been accused of not being transparent enough about the searches and what secret documents Biden had in his possession.

Under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, all documents created by the President, the Vice President, and their large staff, including the National Security Council, are the property of the American public and are supposed to be secured by the National Archives. After the National Archives processes the massive amount of documents, many of them are eventually declassified and made available to the public, including in presidential libraries.

A bigger problem?: Biden and Trump documents reveal a broader problem: Lack of classified records is not uncommon

What does this mean for Joe Biden?

Democrats have been frustrated by the drip, drip, drip nature of the revelations.

Even if they don’t see the situationwhich is markedly different from the DOJ’s criminal investigation of Trump, as damaging to Biden’s long-term re-election prospects, Democrats such as former House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff have supported the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the case.

Biden had enjoyed a surge in his approval rating and enjoyed increased support from independent voters and non-voters while the document drama was brewing. New developments in the documents scandal could cut into Biden’s support as he prepares to deliver his State of the Union address in early February and potentially announce a re-election bid.

Despite the president’s claims “there’s nothing there” and “the American people don’t fully understand” the continued focus on his documents, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 60% of Americans believe he handled them inappropriately, and two-thirds of Americans follow the media coverage.

More: Biden documents investigation means US has 3 special counsel investigations at once. What are they?

Vote: What will happen in Washington in the next 2 years? Americans don’t expect much.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden documents disclosures grow; what we know so far

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