Classified documents from President Biden’s tenure as vice president were discovered last November in a private Washington office, Mr. Biden’s attorneys confirmed Monday.
Attorney General Merrick Garland dispatched John Lausch, the U.S. Attorney for Chicago to investigate after the National Archives and Records Administration referred the matter to the Justice Department. Mr. Lausch was appointed by President Trump and is one of the U.S. attorneys held over from the former administration.
The disclosure, coming after a high-profile investigation of Mr. Trump for keeping classified documents after he left office, had the former president and others accusing the administration of a double standard.
Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said “a small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered while Mr. Biden’s attorneys were cleaning out the offices of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, where Mr. Biden had an office after he left the vice presidency in 2017.
Mr. Biden vacated the office in 2020 upon being elected president.
The classified documents included top secret files designated as “sensitive compartmented information,” which is used for highly sensitive information obtained from spies and other intelligence sources.
Mr. Sauber said in a statement that the attorneys immediately notified the National Archives, who took possession of the classified documents the next day. The documents were stored in a locked closet, he said.
“The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives. Since that discovery, the president’s personal attorneys have cooperated with the 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,” the statement said.
It is unclear how far Mr. Lausch is in the probe or when it began. In 2021, Illinois’ two Democratic senators asked Mr. Biden to keep Mr. Lausch at his post to complete “sensitive investigations.” It is not known which investigations they were referring to or if it relates to the classified documents probe.
The discovery of the materials comes as special counsel Jack Smith is probing Mr. Trump for potentially mishandling classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Federal investigators have recovered at least 325 classified documents from Mr. Trump as part of their inquiry.
Mr. Trump has not been charged with a crime and it is not clear when a decision on whether to charge Mr. Trump or anyone else will be made.
“When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?” Mr. Trump posted on his social media site, Truth Social, in response to the latest revelations.
Mr. Trump’s allies also jumped into the fray, accusing the Justice Department and National Archives of a double standard when it comes to dealing with Mr. Biden.
“President Biden has been very critical of President Trump mistakenly taking classified documents to the residence or wherever and now it seems he may have done the same. How ironic,” Rep. James Comer, Kentucky Republican, told reporters.
Mr. Comer, who is set to become the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he had asked the National Archives questions related to the Trump probe and the National Archives referred Republicans to the Justice Department. He said he intends to ask the National Archives for more information this week.
Mr. Biden has savaged Mr. Trump for storing classified documents at his Florida residence.
“How that could possibly happen? How one — anyone could be that irresponsible?” Mr. Biden said. “And I thought what data was in there may compromise sources and methods. By that, I mean names of people who helped or, et cetera…totally irresponsible.”