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Biden lawyer: No classified documents found at president's beach home

Biden
Posted at 9:14 AM, Feb 01, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI did not find any documents with classified markings during a search for President Joe Biden's Rehoboth Beach, Delaware home, according to his lawyer.

The search lasted about three hours, Bob Bauer, personal attorney for the president, said in a statement.

He added that the Department of Justice took some other materials and handwritten notes from Biden's time as vice president for further review.

The latest search follows the FBI's 13-hour, top-to-bottom check of his Wilmington, Delaware, home, where agents located documents with classified markings from his time as a vice president and senator and also took possession of some of his handwritten notes.

One week earlier, Biden's personal lawyers revealed that they had found a document bearing classified markings while searching the Wilmington property but said they had not found others during a separate inspection of the Rehoboth Beach home.

The White House did not disclose the Justice Department's investigation until last month, when it acknowledged the Nov. 2 discovery of a “small number” of classified documents by Biden lawyers as they closed an office at the Penn Biden Center, a think tank affiliated with the Ivy League school.

Though officials did not say so at the time, The Associated Press and other news organizations reported on Tuesday that the FBI had conducted a voluntary search of that office later in November.

The Justice Department declined comment on the Wednesday search.

Biden's lawyers have described the retention of the records as a “mistake." The Justice Department has historically brought criminal charges related to mishandling of classified records only when it can establish, among other things, that a person acted knowingly in improperly removing or storing sensitive records.

The Biden documents probe is being handled by a special counsel, Robert Hur, a former senior Justice Department official during the Trump administration who served as the top federal prosecutor in Baltimore. He is starting his work this week, inheriting a months-long investigation already undertaken by FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors.

Attorney General Merrick Garland had assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, to conduct an initial review before announcing Hur's appointment last month.

In a separate effort that preceded the Biden probe, special counsel Jack Smith is investigating the retention by Trump of roughly 300 documents with classified markings that were taken from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. Agents last August obtained a search warrant to recover classified documents following what the Justice Department said were months of resistance by Trump and his representatives to return the records to the government.

Investigators in the Biden case have already conducted interviews, including of Biden's former executive assistant who helped oversee the packing of boxes that went to the Penn Biden Center. It is not yet clear if and when the Justice Department might look to question Biden himself.

The Bidens purchased their Rehoboth Beach home, which overlooks a state park adjacent to the beach, in June 2017, months after he left the vice presidency.