FBI agents searched the office President Joe Biden used after his vice presidency in Washington, D.C., in mid-November after his lawyers first discovered classified documents there earlier that month, two senior law enforcement officials told NBC News.
The White House and Biden’s personal attorneys had not previously disclosed the search of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, even as they faced weeks of questions about the discovery of classified records. CBS broke the news of the FBI search on Tuesday.
The officials told NBC that Biden’s lawyers cooperated fully with the search, and the Justice Department did not issue a search warrant. Biden’s team also worked with the Justice Department in a later FBI search of his Wilmington, Delaware, home, for which it also did not issue a warrant.
The president’s personal attorneys discovered documents at the think tank office on Nov. 2. The attorneys notified the National Archives, leading to an investigation by the Justice Department. But the White House did not disclose the development until it was reported on Jan. 9.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Jan. 12 that he appointed Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney, as special counsel to investigate.
Biden’s attorneys later found more documents at the president’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, on Dec. 20, prompting a search of the home by FBI agents on Jan. 20. Biden’s personal lawyers said Justice Department investigators found more than half a dozen additional documents, some marked classified, in the search. The documents discovered range from his Senate tenure to his time as vice president under former President Barack Obama.
Former President Donald Trump is also facing a special counsel investigation for failing to turn over classified documents. His Florida Mar-a-Lago home was searched by FBI agents in early August. Unlike Biden, who agreed to let agents in to search, the Justice Department served Trump a search warrant after a back and forth.
Last week, it was also reported that Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, also had classified documents in his home in Indiana.