Joe Biden: were classified files found in US President’s garage and former office? What has Donald Trump said?

Two sets of classified files have now been found by Joe Biden’s legal team - and a special counsel has been appointed to investigate the case.

A second batch of classified documents have been found in President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, the White House has confirmed.

The US President’s legal team discovered a “small number” of records with “classified markings” in the garage of Biden’s home in Wilmington. They relate to the time when he served as Vice-President under Barack Obama.

It comes after a first set of files was found at the President’s former office in Washington - the Penn Biden Center. The papers were discovered in a locked closet back in November, but the news only came out on Monday (9 January). These are also thought to relate to the period when Biden was Vice-President, but it is unclear why they turned up in a private office he started using at a later date.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed special counsel, Robert Hur, to investigate the case. Mr Hur served as a senior justice department official during Donald Trump’s time in office. The White House said it is cooperating fully with the investigation.

Speaking on the second bath of files, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the President, said: “Lawyers discovered among personal and political papers a small number of additional Obama-Biden Administration records with classified markings. All but one of these documents were found in the President’s Wilmington residence garage. One document consisting of one page was discovered among stored materials in an adjacent room.”

BBC reported that the first set of papers include US intelligence memos and briefing materials related to Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, a separate source told CBS News that the batch did not contain nuclear secrets.

A “small number” of classified documents have been found in President Joe Biden’s former office in Washington. Credit: Getty Images

It comes as President Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, is under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice. It is alleged that Trump illegally moved about 300 classified documents from the White House to the his home at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, when he left office - and resisted requests to return them. His case is also being overseen by special counsel, Jack Smith.

Mr Sauber said on Monday (9 January) that the first files were discovered just before the midterm elections when attorneys were clearing out the office space. He added: “Since that discovery, the president’s personal attorneys have co-operated with the [National] Archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives.”

His statement did not explain why there was a two-month delay in revealing the discovery at the Penn Biden Center, which is about a mile from the White House and was in use between 2017 and 2020.

In September, President Biden criticised Trump after classified documents were recovered from his home at Mar-a-Lago. He said to CBS: “How anyone could be that irresponsible?"

Unsurprisingly, Trump has since reacted to the news about Biden, speaking out on his social media site, Truth Social: “When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?"

Donald Trump, is under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice. Credit: Getty Images

Congressman James Comer, the new Republican Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, also spoke out about the situation. He told reporters: “This is further concern that there’s a two-tier justice system within the DoJ, with how they treat Republicans versus Democrats - certainly how they treat the former president versus the current president.”

Meanwhile, far right activist Charlie Kirk suggested on Twitter that the media had covered up the story, even though CBS News was responsible for breaking the story.

What happens next?

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s ordered John Lausch, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, to investigate the handling of the first set of documents. But he has given the second case to special counsel Robert Hur.

Lausch was appointed by Donald Trump, but unlike other appointees, was not asked to resign when Biden took office in 2021. Mr Hur also worked in Trump’s administration.

Reports will be issued at some point in the near future shedding light on the nature of the documents and how they came to be stored in Biden’s garage and former office. Only when the content of the reports are revealed will it be clear what the next steps are.