Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed the U.S. attorney in Chicago to review classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told the CBS News. About 10 of the documents come from the office of President Biden’s vice president at the center, the sources said. CBS News has learned that the FBI is also involved in the US attorney’s investigation.
What was revealed by the private attorney for Mr. Biden on November 2, before the election of the center, Richard Sauber, confirmed by the special counsel to the president. The records obtained when the lawyers of Mr. Biden files are placed in a locked cabinet ready to be left in the office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC,” said Sauber in a statement to CBS News. The documents were in a The box was in a box with other undisclosed documents, the source said. The sources did not say what the documents contained or their classification status. A source familiar with the matter told CBS News that the documents contained no nuclear secrets.
Sauber also said that on the same day the items were found, November 2, the White House’s legal office notified the National Archives, which took possession of the items the following morning.
“The discovery of these documents was made by the President’s lawyers,” said Sauber. “The records have not been the subject of any previous request or investigation by the Archives. Since that discovery, the President’s personal attorneys have worked with the Archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that the a record of the Obama-Biden Administration is relevant in. the holding of the Archives.”
A source familiar with the matter said representatives from the National Archives informed the Ministry of Justice.
Garland appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch to find out how the sign ended up at the Penn Biden Center. The review is considered a preliminary step, and the attorney general will determine whether further investigation is needed, including the appointment of a special attorney.
Lausch was nominated to be US attorney by former President Donald Trump, and is one of two US attorneys currently serving. The other is Delaware US Attorney David Weiss, who is leading an investigation into the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
Lausch recently interviewed the attorney general and later submitted a final report to Garland. The review is expected to be completed soon.
The Penn Biden Center is a think tank about a mile from the White House, in Washington, DC, connected to the University of Pennsylvania and named for the sitting president.
The Presidential Records Act requires all presidential and vice-presidential documents to be turned over to the National Archives. There are special instructions to secure classified information.
Mr. Biden’s presence of the documents was reported by his lawyer to the White House counsel’s office in November. A familiar source said the president did not know what they were doing. The documents are believed to be kept in a secure location in Washington.
Lauch’s review will examine, in part, how documents were obtained from the office of the vice-president of Mr. Biden at the Penn Biden Center.
The Penn Biden Center and the University of Pennsylvania did not respond to a request for comment. The National Archives declined comment. The attorneys appointed to oversee the records of Biden’s vice president, Robert Lenhard, James Garland and Dana Remus, did not respond to voice messages and an email seeking comment. The Justice Department and the FBI declined to comment.
A familiar source said that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is aware of the investigation by the Ministry of Justice. ODNI also declined comment.
Former President Donald Trump spoke on CBS News on Monday night, asking on his Truth Social app, “When are the FBI going to raid a lot of Joe’s houses?” Biden, maybe even the White House? These documents are definitely not verified.”
Trump is referring to the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.
GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the recovery of classified documents and stamps from Mr. Biden as vice president “very concerned.” He added, “He had these classified (documents), and what does he say about the next president who has classified documents?” When asked if this was different because the lawyers found them and “quickly” handed over the items, McCarthy replied, “Oh, really? So they found them after all those years.”
Representative James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, had questions when he saw the documents. “What’s the difference between what President Trump did and what we now know President Biden did,” he wondered. “We want to know exactly what documents President Trump took with now President Biden and we want to know if they’re going to treat President Biden any differently than they treated President Trump.”
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan wants to know what the documents are before deciding whether the committee should investigate further, but he said, “There is only one set of rules. for President Trump — they raided his home 91 days before the midterm elections — and it’s a different situation for President Biden. So, we’re going to go from there.”
The ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, he said in a statement that Mr. Biden “appears to have taken prompt and appropriate action to notify the National Archives,” and he said, “I have confidence that the Attorney General took the necessary steps to ensure a careful review of the circumstances.” surrounding the possession and receipt of these documents and making an impartial decision about any further action that may be required.”
The Penn Biden Center case is similar to the Justice Department’s search of Donald Trump’s presidential records — but the scope and scale are very different. In August, the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago that yielded hundreds of classified documents.
This was followed by an unprecedented searchbetween Trump’s representatives, the National Archives, and the Department of Justice. The warrant was sought and executed in August, when efforts by the federal government to retrieve what were considered sensitive documents at the palace were unsuccessful. to the former president should have been submitted to the Archives under the law.
Of theit contains, among other things, secrets about nuclear power and communication between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The first batch of 15 boxes was returned in January 2022, but Archives officials believed that some of the records were missing, causing the agency to take the case to the Ministry of Justice. February 2022.
The Trump investigation is under the control of recent appointeesJack Smith.
In September, Mr. Biden on “60 Minutes” and was asked for his response to a photo showing documents recovered at Mar-a-Lago. “How can that happen? How can someone be dishonest,” the president said. “And it’s just — so unfair.”
In total, federal officials have recovered more than 300 documents that were previously in Trump’s possession.
Withholding confidential information upon leaving government service does not necessarily result in criminal charges. The FBI determined that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton classified material on her private email account for several years after she left the State Department in 2013. FBI investigators concluded that the stupidity, but not malicious intent, is to blame.
“Although there is evidence of violations of the laws regarding the handling of classified information, it is our judgment that no prosecutor would bring such a case,” said the FBI Director. James Comey at that time.
The Penn Biden Center gives the University of Pennsylvania based in Philadelphia a foothold in the nation’s capital. The think tank, which opened in 2018, hosts educational programs and events related to foreign policy.
It was used by Mr. Biden the vacancy of the office from the middle of 2017 until the spring of 2019, when he announced his candidacy for the presidency.
The offices on the sixth floor of the center sit at the base of Capitol Hill with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a beautiful view of the Capitol. The center’s staff consists mostly of former Obama administration officials, many of whom have left the center to work in the Biden administration.
The Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, for example, was the director of the center in 2018. Steve Richetti, who currently works as a top White House aide to Mr. Biden, served as the center’s executive director in 2019.
The university named Mr. Biden is the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor and has paid him $917,643 for speaking engagements and for keynote addresses between 2017 and 2019, according to the president’s financial statements . He is currently on leave from university.
The relations of Mr. Biden at the University of Pennsylvania is deep. His late son Beau and granddaughter Naomi have university degrees. Biden’s daughter Ashley earned her master’s degree at Penn, and his granddaughter Natalie is currently studying there. Then Vice President Biden announced the Obama administration’s “cancer moonshot” at Penn in 2016.
The president discussed how he handles classified information at home in a Q-and-A session with reporters last August. “I have, in my house, an enclosed space that is very secure. I’m going home with me today (Presidential Daily Briefing). It’s locked. , I’ll lock it again, and given to the military.”
Asked if it was appropriate for a president to bring home special items, Mr. Biden, “It depends on the document, and it depends on the security of the room.”
Rebecca Kaplan, Zachary Hudak and Rob Legare contributed reporting.