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More classified documents found in garage at Biden's Wilmington home: White House

ABC News 1/12/2023
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The White House confirmed Thursday that more classified documents from President Joe Biden's time as vice president were found in the garage of his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

It came just hours before Attorney General Merrick Garland named a special counsel in the Biden documents matter.

MORE: AG Garland names Robert Hur as special counsel in Biden classified documents matter

Asked about the discovery after remarks on the economy Thursday morning, Biden appeared to downplay the security risks.

"I'm gonna get a chance to speak on all this -- God willing -- soon. But as I said earlier this week, people, and by the way, my Corvette's in a locked garage," Biden said. "So, it's not like it's sitting on the street."

"But as I said earlier this week, people know I take classified documents and classified material seriously. I also said we're cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department's review. As part of that process, my lawyers reviewed other places where documents in my -- from my time as vice president were stored and they finished the review last night," Biden continued, echoing an earlier White House statement. "They discovered a small number of documents with classified markings in storage areas and file cabinets in my home and my personal library."

"The Department of Justice was immediately notified, and the lawyers arranged for the Department of Justice to take possession of the documents," he said.

President Joe Biden speaks about the economy in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington, Jan. 12, 2023. © Andrew Caballero-reynolds/AFP via Getty Images President Joe Biden speaks about the economy in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington, Jan. 12, 2023.

Biden's comments came on the heels of a statement from the White House special counsel dealing with the matter.

"Following the discovery of government documents at the Penn Biden Center in November 2022, and coordinating closely with the Department of Justice, the President's lawyers have searched the President's Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, residences – the other locations where files from his Vice-Presidential office might have been shipped in the course of the 2017 transition. The lawyers completed that review last night," Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a statement.

"During the review, the 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 storage space in the President's Wilmington residence garage," he said. "One document consisting of one page was discovered among stored materials in an adjacent room."

After Garland's announcement of the special counsel, Sauber put out an additional statement, calling the matter a "mistake."

“As the President said, he takes classified information and materials seriously, and as we have said, we have cooperated from the moment we informed the Archives that a small number of documents were found, and we will continue to cooperate. We have cooperated closely with the Justice Department throughout its review, and we will continue that cooperation with the Special Counsel," he said. "We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the President and his lawyers acted promptly upon discovery of this mistake.”

MORE: Biden leaves questions unanswered on classified documents, as GOP pounces

Garland also said the FBI was brought to Biden's home to secure the documents.

The revelation that classified documents were kept at a Biden personal office in Washington, and now, at his private residence in Wilmington, have raised questions about how Biden's situation compares with the classified documents seized at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill both called for briefings on the latest developments, but they differed on how they thought Biden's handling of classified documents compared to Trump's.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Thursday continued to say that Congress has an obligation to investigate Biden's handling of classified documents.

MORE: 'Congress has to investigate' Biden documents matter, McCarthy says

Referring to House Republicans' new subcommittee on the "weaponization of the federal government," McCarthy said, "I see it could go from that committee or others, but I think Congress has to investigate this."

McCarthy said he didn't see the difference between the two situations, despite Trump's months of stonewalling investigators efforts to retrieve them.

Meanwhile, the outgoing chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, said Thursday congressional intelligence committees should be briefed on the situation.

Schiff said there were "enormous differences" between the Biden and Trump cases, though. ""The key factors to be considered are, was this inadvertent? It certainly appears that it was. Was there any evidence of obstruction? There certainly appears to be no evidence of that. Was there any evidence of a breach of the security of the documents? I've seen no evidence of that either,"

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered little to clarify the circumstances around the discovery classified documents in Biden's home and former office during Thursday's briefing, instead repeating dozens of times a prepared statement and deferring to the Justice Department.

Pressed by reporters, she insisted that the administration has been transparent, although she drew no distinction between transparency with investigators and transparency with the American people.

"There was, there was transparency in doing what you're supposed to do when these, when these items were discovered," she said.

Asked whether the president willing to be interviewed by federal investigators, she responded, "I'm just not going to get into hypotheticals."

ABC News' Sarah Kolinovsky, Gabe Ferris and Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

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