WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI searched President Joe Biden’s Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home Wednesday as part of its investigation into the potential mishandling of classified documents, the president’s personal lawyer said.
The search, the third of a Biden site in less than two months, follows the 13-hour, Jan. 20 top-to-bottom check of his Wilmington, Delaware, home, where agents located documents with classified markings and also took possession of some of his handwritten notes.
Wednesday’s effort, while expected after the previously reported searches at Biden’s Wilmington home and his former Washington office, was the latest discomforting development for the president, whose retention of classified material — deemed a “mistake” by his lawyers — has tarnished his efforts to bring rule-following back to the White House.
It underscores how an investigation that had simmered quietly for weeks is continuing to push forward rather than fade away.
In a separate effort that preceded the Biden probe, special counsel Jack Smith is investigating the retention by former President Donald Trump of roughly 300 documents with classified markings at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. Agents last August obtained a search warrant to recover classified documents following what the Justice Department said were months of resistance by Trump and his representatives to return the records to the government.
The Justice Department declined comment on the Wednesday search.
It is the latest following the Nov. 2 discovery of documents with classified markings by Biden lawyers — disclosed only last month — as they closed up an office at the Penn Biden Center, a think tank affiliated with the Ivy League school. Since then, the president has voluntarily allowed the Justice Department into his residences as investigators seek to determine how classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president and a senator wound up in his home and office.
In a statement acknowledging the search Wednesday, Biden’s personal lawyer, Bob Bauer, said the Justice Department had initiated the new action “without advance public notice, and we agreed to cooperate.”
“The search today is a further step in a thorough and timely DOJ process we will continue to fully support and facilitate. We will have further information at the conclusion of today’s search,” he added.
The FBI searched the Penn Biden Center in November following the initial discovery of documents there by Biden’s lawyers, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Tuesday, and did its own search last month of the Wilmington property, locating what Bauer said were six items containing documents with classified markings.
It was not immediately clear whether any additional classified documents were found on Wednesday.
The Biden documents probe is being handled by a special counsel, Robert Hur, the former top federal prosecutor in Baltimore. He is starting his work this week, inheriting a months-long investigation already undertaken by FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors.
Investigators have already conducted interviews, including of Biden’s former executive assistant who helped oversee the packing of boxes that went to the Penn Biden Center. It is not yet clear if and when the Justice Department might look to question Biden himself.
The Bidens purchased their Rehoboth Beach home, which overlooks a state park adjacent to the beach, in June 2017, months after he left the vice presidency.