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Biden's lawyer says additional classified documents found, GOP calls for new probes

President Joe Biden listens to a reporters question after speaking about the economy at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Thursday.
Andrew Harnik
/
AP
President Joe Biden listens to a reporters question after speaking about the economy at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Thursday.

Updated January 12, 2023 at 2:24 PM ET

President Biden's lawyer have found additional classified documents at his Wilmington, Del., residence, according to his counsel Richard Sauber, who said "all but one" of the new documents were found in storage in Biden's garage, and one document was in stored materials in "an adjacent room."

The news fueled calls by House Republicans to conduct their own probes into the matter.

Biden's lawyers immediately notified the Justice Department of the new discovery, Sauber said. He added that they were cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice "in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in possession of the Archives."

At an event Thursday morning after the statement came out, Biden acknowledged the discovery, telling reporters: "I'm going to get a chance to speak on all this, God willing, soon."

Asked by a reporter why he would leave documents next to a vintage Corvette that Biden is known to have – Biden said: "By the way my Corvette's in a locked garage, OK?" – implying that the documents were secure.

Biden owns a 1967 Corvette, which was a wedding gift from his father, who ran a car dealership. He keeps it in a garage — though it's not clear it's the same garage where the documents were found.

The discovery comes after recent news that some classified documents were found in November at the Penn Biden Center, a think tank office in Washington, D.C., that Biden used for about three years.

"Following the discovery of government documents at the Penn Biden Center in November 2022, and coordinating closely with the Department of Justice, the President's lawyers have searched the President's Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, residences — the other locations where files from his Vice-Presidential office might have been shipped in the course of the 2017 transition. The lawyers completed that review last night," Sauber's statement said.

During that review, the lawyers discovered among personal and political papers "a small number" of additional Obama-Biden Administration records with classified markings, he said.

Earlier this week, Biden said he was "surprised" to learn documents had been found at the think tank office, which he used from mid-2017 until the beginning of his 2020 campaign. Those documents were found in a box in a locked closet and were turned over to the National Archives as soon as they were discovered by his personal attorneys.

In revealing the discovery of those documents — which were first reported by CBS News — earlier this week, Sauber noted that they "were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives." The distinction sets the situation apart from classified documents discovered at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump's Florida home. In that case, the Justice Department says Trump's team did not turn over all of the documents despite multiple attempts.

Former DOJ integrity chief Jack Smith is investigating the potential mishandling of classified documents by Trump. Those documents were seized from Trump's Florida home last August. Smith is also looking into aspects of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced the appointment of a special counsel to investigate how the classified documents came to be located in Delaware and at the Penn Biden Center.

House Republicans says Congress should investigate

The new discovery has also fueled calls from the Republican-led House to initiate their own probe into the findings.

"Not once but now we're finding in two different locations, classified information just out there in the open," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Thursday morning. He later added, "I think Congress needs to investigate this."

McCarthy stopped short of detailing which committee should take the lead.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer has already said his panel would dig into classified document concerns, and said he expects to hold related hearings.

Before Garland's announcement, Comer raised concerns about a special counsel appointment. He said it could impede his panel's probe into the matter, and argued his panel would be "a lot more effective and quicker" to investigate.

"I don't see how they cannot appoint a special counsel with respect to Biden," Comer told reporters before the Garland plans were shared. "Two things: I don't have confidence in who Merrick Garland would appoint. And second, when that special counsel is appointed, it limits our ability to do some of the oversight investigations that we want to do with respect to this."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.