In a twist of irony, classified documents that belonged to Joe Biden when he was vice president were discovered in his private office in November 2022, Biden’s attorneys acknowledged according to CNN. The president’s attorneys say that they found the documents as they were cleaning out his Washington, D.C.-based office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
The president reportedly used the office when he was an honorary professor at the University of Pennsylvania from 2017 to 2019 until he launched his 2020 bid for the presidency.
Less than a dozen documents were found, a source told CNN, adding that it is not currently clear what the documents contain or why they were still in the president’s possession, but they reportedly contain top-secret files labeled as “sensitive compartmented information” (SCI).
The documents are from when Biden was the vice president, making it illegal for him to have kept the classified materials after his time in the government ended from 2017-2021, according to federal law.
“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, special counsel to President Biden, said in a statement.
Sauber added that the National Archives were notified by the White House Counsel’s Office and took possession of the materials. Attorney General Merrick Garland has reportedly requested that the U.S. attorney in Chicago, John Lausch Jr., investigate the incident.
Lausch was one of the Trump-era holdovers who was not asked to resign following Biden’s inauguration. He was unanimously approved by the Senate in 2017 after his appointment by then-President Donald Trump. Two Illinois Democratic senators reportedly said in 2021 that they wanted him to remain at his post “to conclude sensitive investigations,” although their subject is undisclosed.
The discovery follows a similar situation with former President Donald Trump, whose estate in Mar-a-Lago was raided by the FBI after a year of communication with the National Archives and Records Administration to retrieve classified documents.
The situation is already being reported as inherently different by CBS, pointing to more than 300 documents Trump kept that reportedly contained secrets about nuclear capabilities and correspondences between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un that Trump calls “love letters.”
Republicans are already beginning to ask questions.
“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,” said Kentucky GOP Rep. James Comer, whose to become the House Oversight Chairman after the GOP won back the lower chamber.
“How ironic,” he added.
Comer noted that the NARA falls under his committee’s oversight but claimed that when they were in the minority and sent questions to them about Trump, the committee was referred to the Justice Department.
“Maybe they’ll answer our questions now because it pertains to two presidents,” Comer said.
Piggybacking on CBS‘ narrative, CNN reports that after the raid on his estate, Trump “promoted wild and unfounded allegations about his predecessors’ supposed mishandling of government records,” adding that the news of Biden keeping classified documents is “sure to provide new fodder.”
During an appearance on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” President Biden criticized Trump for being so irresponsible with his handling of the material.
“How that could possibly happen? How one—anyone could be that irresponsible?” Biden said. “And I thought what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods? By that I mean names of people who helped or, et cetera…totally irresponsible.”
The investigation into Trump’s classified documents are still underway headed by special counsel Jack Smith.
Biden aides have found a second batch of classified documents at another location, according to NBC News. After the discovery of the first dozen documents in Biden’s office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, aides have searching for documents that might have been left in other locations, according to a source speaking on the condition of anonymity.