(Featured image provided by Andrew Harnik/AP)
Recently, news broke out that several classified United States (U.S.) government documents were found in an office space once belonging to President Joe Biden at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, where he once served as an honorary professor at Pennsylvania State University.
The documents were actually initially found last year on November 2, 2022, six days before the midterm elections. However, the news only broke out to the public now, not even Biden knew that the documents had been found. Biden was briefed about the situation when he was at the North American Leader’s Summit in Mexico, and he later made a response on Tuesday. “People know I take classified documents, classified information seriously,” said Biden. “And they [Biden’s lawyers] did what they should have done. They immediately called the Archives.” Biden was also surprised that there were any government documents in the office at all.
Ten documents were spread out in a few boxes, which were stored with some of Biden’s personal materials. Some of the documents were also marked as “Top Secret” or “Sensitive Compartmented Information.” They had intelligence reports and other materials about the United Kingdom (UK), Iran, Ukraine, etc. The documents were all dated between the years 2013 and 2016, meaning Biden must have taken them during his time as vice president for the Obama administration.
The documents were discovered after one of Biden’s lawyers saw a folder marked “personal” after they were supposed to be closing the office. Upon further inspection, they opened the envelope and saw classified documents inside, after which they called the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). After NARA had been notified of the situation, Biden’s team immediately handed over several boxes, some of which included Biden’s personal inventory.
Now, the case is in the hands of Attorney General Merrick Garland, who will decide whether to launch a full-scale criminal investigation similar to the Mar-a-Lago investigation earlier last year. Garland also chose to have John Lausch Jr. handle the investigation because he’s one of the two remaining Trump-appointed lawyers in the US federal legal system, so they can avoid a conflict of interest. At this point of the investigation, Lausch is not expected to gather any more additional facts.
Many Republicans have stated that Biden should be thoroughly investigated over the event and charged accordingly. “Those entrusted with access to classified information have a duty and an obligation to protect it,” said Ohio Republican Mike Turner. “This issue demands a full and thorough review.” Former President Donald Trump even took to social media, goading the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to search more of Biden’s offices and even the White House for more classified documents. However, many Democrats have said that they are confident in Biden’s handling of government materials.