By MICHAEL BALSAMO and ZEKE MILLER
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s legal team has discovered additional documents containing classification markings, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The revelation comes days after an attorney for the president said Biden’s lawyers had discovered a “small number” of classified documents at his former office space in Washington.
Earlier this week, the White House confirmed that the Department of Justice was reviewing “a small number of documents with classified markings” found at the office. Biden’s attorneys had discovered the documents at the offices of the Penn Biden Center and then immediately called the National Archives about the discovery, the White House said. Biden kept an office there after he left the vice presidency in 2017 until shortly before he launched his Democratic presidential campaign in 2019.
The person who spoke to the AP Wednesday said the president’s legal team found additional classified material at a second location. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the sensitive matter and spoke on condition of anonymity. The person did not say when or where the material was found or specific details about the level of classification of the documents.
The revelation that additional classified documents were uncovered by Biden’s attorneys came hours after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dodged questions about Biden’s handling of classified information and the West Wing’s management of the discovery. She said the White House was committed to handling the matter in the “right way,” pointing to Biden’s personal attorneys’ immediate notification of the National Archives.
But she refused to say when Biden himself had been briefed, whether there were any more classified documents potentially located at other unauthorized locations, and why the White House waited more than two months to reveal the discovery of the initial batch of documents, which were found Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections.
“As my colleagues in the Counsel have stated and said to all of you yesterday, this is an ongoing process under the review of the Department of Justice. So we are going to be limited on what we can say here,” Jean-Pierre said.
The White House and Justice Department declined to comment Wednesday on reports of the second set of classified records. It was first reported by NBC News.
The Justice Department is reviewing the records that were found at the Penn Biden Center and Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked John Lausch, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, to review the the matter, another person familiar with the matter told the AP this week. That person also was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Lausch is one of the few U.S. attorneys to be held over from former President Donald Trump’s administration.
Irrespective of the Justice Department review, the revelation that Biden potentially mishandled classified or presidential records could prove to be a political headache for the president, who called Trump’s decision to keep hundreds of such records at his private club in Florida “irresponsible.”
Biden has said he was “surprised to learn that there are any government records that were taken there to that office” but his lawyers “did what they should have done” when they immediately called the National Archives.
The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has requested that the U.S. intelligence community conduct a “damage assessment” of potentially classified documents.
The revelation also may complicate the Justice Department’s consideration of whether to bring charges against Trump, a Republican who is trying to win back the White House in 2024 and has repeatedly claimed the department’s inquiry into his own conduct amounted to “corruption.”
There are significant differences between the Trump and Biden situations, including the gravity of an ongoing grand jury investigation into the Mar-a-Lago matter.
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