Washington – The discovery that classified documents were found in President Biden’s former office and his home in Wilmington, Delaware has prompted scrutiny of the president and appointment of special counsel Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Earlier this week, the White House confirmed that approximately 10 Obama administration documents were revealed Mr. Biden’s personal attorneys at the Penn Biden Center for Global Diplomacy and Global Engagement on Nov. 2, and opened A “small amount” was found Thursday in a garage at the president’s Wilmington home after his lawyers searched for locations where files from his vice president’s office may have been sent after he was in the Obama White House.
But the White House has left unclear what happened between the initial discovery on Nov. 2 and Monday, Jan. 9, when CBS News reported the documents were found, and when the second batch was found in Wilmington. What is in the documents is unknown, and the level of secrecy of the second party is also unknown. However, the documents in the first batch were marked with a sign different levels of classificationincluding some that were marked as top secret.
Garland filled in some of the details Thursday, Jan. 12, when he issued a brief statement announcing the appointment of Robert Gurr, a former federal prosecutor, as special counsel to oversee the investigation into the handling of the documents.
Here is a timeline of events surrounding the discovery of government documents found in Mr. Biden’s possession:
November 2: Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers find about 10 documents with classification marks in a locked cabinet at the Penn Biden Center. The lawyers inform the White House Legal Service, which then notifies the National Archives and Records Administration. (statement of Richard Sauber, Special Advisor to the President, January 9)
November 3: Materials discovered in the analytical center become the archive’s possession. (Sauber statement, January 9)
November 4: The Inspector General’s Archives is contacting the Justice Department’s attorney general to inform the department of the documents discovered. (Special Prosecutor’s Garland announcement, January 12)
November 9: The FBI is initiating an evaluation in accordance with its standard protocol to determine whether classified information was mishandled in violation of federal law. (Announcement of the garland, January 12)
November 14: Garland is assigning John Loesch, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, to conduct an initial investigation to determine whether a special counsel should be appointed. (Announcement of the garland, January 12)
December 20: Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers told Lausch that more classified documents had been found in the garage of the president’s home in Wilmington. The documents were among other records from Mr. Biden’s tenure as vice president. (Announcement of the garland, January 12)
The FBI goes to the residence and secures the documents. (Announcement of the garland, January 12)
January 5: Lausch briefs the Attorney General on the results of his initial investigation and advises that further investigation by the special counsel is warranted.
Garland concludes that, based on the Lausch investigation, under the special counsel rules, a special counsel should be appointed in the public interest. (Announcement of the garland, January 12)
January 9: CBS News first reports that there were approximately 10 classified documents found in the office of Mr. Biden’s vice president at the Penn Biden Center.
“The documents were not the subject of a prior request or investigation by the archives. Following this discovery, the President’s personal attorneys have been working with the Archives and the Department of Justice in the process of ensuring that any records of the Obama and Biden administrations are properly preserved in the Archives’ possession.” (Sauber statement, January 9)
January 11: Mr. Biden’s lawyers are finalizing searches of his Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach residences for other government documents that may have been sent there during the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration in 2017. (Sauber statement, January 12)
The search was related to the discovery of materials at the Penn Biden Center, Sauber said.
January 12: Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers call Lausch and tell him that an additional document marked classified has been found at the president’s home in Wilmington. (Announcement of the garland, January 12)
In a Jan. 12 statement, Sauber says the president’s lawyers found a “small number” of additional Obama-era documents marked classified in a garage storage room at Biden’s Wilmington home among “personal and political documents.” He says the single one-page document was “discovered among storage materials in an adjacent room” and no documents were found at Mr. Biden’s residence in Rehoboth Beach.
According to Sauber, the president’s lawyers searched the Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach residences — other places where documents from Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential office may have been sent during the transition from the Obama to the Trump administration — after government documents were found in Penn Biden Center.
Garland announces that he has appointed Gurr as special counsel to oversee the investigation into the documents and signs an order authorizing him to investigate whether any individual or entity has broken the law in connection with the matter.
The order allows Hur to examine “the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records discovered” at the Penn Biden Center and Mr. Biden’s residence in Wilmington, “as well as any matters that arose out of the original investigation or may arise directly from the special counsel’s investigation.” .
Hurr is also authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation and refer to the appropriate U.S. attorney “necessary criminal matters that may arise from the special counsel’s investigation.”
Following Garland’s statement, Sauber said in a new statement that the White House would cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation and reiterated that Mr. Biden “takes classified information and materials seriously.”
“We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were unintentionally inappropriate, and that the president and his lawyers acted immediately upon discovering this error,” he says.
Rob Legare and Arden Farhi contributed to this report