The White House has confirmed that a second set of classified government documents was found, this time in President Joe Biden’s garage at his home in Delaware.
This revelation comes after other 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. The think tank office was used from mid-2017 until the beginning of Biden’s 2020 campaign. Those documents were located in a box in a locked closet. The documents were turned over to the National Archives as soon as they were discovered by his personal attorneys. All of the documents are from when Biden served as vice president to former President Barack Obama.
The question is, did Biden break the law by taking these papers out of the White House? It seems he may have, according to legal experts.
“It’s a crime to take classified documents,” Neama Rahmani, former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Newsweek. “President Biden may have violated the Presidential Records Act, Espionage Act, and other federal laws.”
While this may play out to be true, the Espionage Act only criminalizes the act of gathering, transmitting, or losing national defense information, the Department of Justice only prosecutes “when an aggravating factor is present,” Norman Eisen, attorney and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, told Newsweek.
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“The key is whether Biden knowingly and intentionally kept them,” Esien said.
According to Eisen, there doesn’t see to be any indication that Biden kept those documents on purpose, which would strike out the factor required for a prosecution.
Richard Sauber, a special counsel to the president, said in a statement that Biden’s lawyers searched his residences in Wilmington and Rehoboth, Delaware, where files from his former vice presidential office may have been shipped in 2017, CBS News reported.
Sauber said a “small number” of additional Obama-Biden administration records marked classified were discovered in a garage in the president’s Wilmington home, and another single document was discovered among material in an adjacent room. No files were found in the president’s beach house in Rehoboth Beach. Sauber noted the Justice Department was “immediately notified” of the documents.
“As I said earlier this week, people know I take classified documents and classified materials seriously,” Biden told reporters. “I also said we’re cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department’s review. As part of that process, my lawyers reviewed other places where documents of — from my time as vice president were stored, and they finished the review last night. They discovered a small number of documents with classified markings in storage areas, in file cabinets in my home and my personal library.”
Experts are making a distinction from classified documents discovered at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home. The difference? The Justice Department says Trump’s team did not turn over all of the documents despite multiple attempts, NPR reported. Biden’s lawyers discovered the documents in both cases and notified the DOJ and turned the documents over.
Attorney General Merrick Garland did announce the appointment of a special counsel to investigate how the classified documents came to be located in Delaware and at the Penn Biden Center.
President Joe Biden listens as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 13, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)