OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The FBI conducted a search of the Penn Biden Center much earlier than previously known or disclosed by The White House.
It happened after the president’s team contacted the National Archives to tell them that they found classified documents at the center in November. An anonymous official for the Department of Justice informed CNN that there was no search warrant and the November search was done with the cooperation of the president’s legal team.
CNN reported: “The White House and Biden’s legal team did not previously disclose the FBI’s November search, in contrast to a search conducted by the bureau earlier this month at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware. This latest revelation raises additional questions about how transparent the White House and Biden’s legal team have been about the government’s investigation into the president’s handling of classified documents, which is now being overseen by special counsel Robert Hur.”
Earlier this month, Attorney General Merrick Garland said: “On November 9, the FBI commenced an assessment, consistent with standard protocols, to understand whether classified information had been mishandled in violation of federal law.”
And it appears as though President Joe Biden’s troubles with the Justice Department regarding possession of classified documents are wider than previously known, according to a report on Saturday.
NBC News noted that in addition to collecting the documents, FBI agents also scooped up several notebooks at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home that he wrote during his tenure as vice president, according to sources who are familiar with the probe.
“The notebooks were seized because Biden’s notes on some of the pages relate to his official business as vice president, including details of his diplomatic engagements during the Obama administration, and may refer to classified information, this same person said, adding that the notebooks do not have classified markings on them, but some of the handwritten notes inside them could be considered as such given their sensitive content,” the report said.
“Other pages in the notebooks, while they may not contain potentially classified information, could still be considered government property under the Presidential Records Act because they pertain to official business Biden conducted as vice president, according to the person familiar with the investigation,” the report continued.
“The notebooks include a mix of handwritten notes from Biden on various topics, both personal and official, according to the person familiar with the seizure. On some pages Biden wrote down things about his family or his life unrelated to public office, said this same person. On other pages, he memorialized in writing some of his experiences or thoughts as vice president at the time, according to this same source,” NBC News noted further.
A source told the outlet that Biden kept a large number of notebooks but it isn’t clear how many were confiscated by FBI agents.
The report added:
Biden’s possession of notebooks from his time as vice president that include notes about official business he conducted in that role raises questions about whether he appropriately followed procedures for preserving presidential records. It also raises questions about whether the notebooks are considered personal or official, and how other vice presidents and presidents who kept similar notebooks while in office have handled theirs.
Federal law allows presidents and vice presidents to write and, upon leaving office, keep diaries and notes of a “personal” nature, so long as they hadn’t shared the material with anyone in the time they held office.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both Democrats, have publicly announced that they turned over all classified documents to the National Archives and Records Administration when they left office.
“Consistent with the Presidential Records Act, all of President Obama’s classified records were submitted to the National Archives upon leaving office. NARA continues to assume physical and legal custody of President Obama’s materials to date,” Obama’s office said in an email.
“All of President Clinton’s classified materials were properly turned over to NARA in accordance with the Presidential Records Act,” a Clinton spokesperson told Fox News.
In addition to the classified documents, there are also questions surrounding a lack of transparency on why the U.S. Secret Service apparently does not have any visitor logs from Biden’s Delaware home.
The Department of Justice is considering searching more locations for classified documents after a search of Biden’s Delaware home uncovered more classified material, CBS News reported.
“Justice Department officials are also considering the possibility of conducting other consensual searches at locations linked to Mr. Biden, said the source familiar with the investigation,” the report said.