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Biden says he was surprised to learn classified documents were found at his old office

President Joe Biden boarding Air Force One at El Paso International Airport in El Paso, Texas on Jan. 8, 2023, to travel to Mexico City, Mexico. Biden told reporters Tuesday that he was surprised to learn from his attorneys that classified documents had been found at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., in November.
Andrew Harnik
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AP
President Joe Biden boarding Air Force One at El Paso International Airport in El Paso, Texas on Jan. 8, 2023, to travel to Mexico City, Mexico. Biden told reporters Tuesday that he was surprised to learn from his attorneys that classified documents had been found at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., in November.

Updated January 9, 2023 at 9:30 PM ET

President Biden's personal attorneys have discovered classified documents among what appear to be Obama-era records when the current president was vice president, according to a statement from Richard Sauber, the special counsel to the president.

Biden's attorneys found the documents while packing other materials in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., before the midterm elections and the National Archives were notified the same day, CBS first reported. The Archives collected the documents the following morning and the matter is under review by the Justice Department.

Sauber said in a statement that the documents "were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives" and that Biden's attorneys have been cooperating with the DOJ and National Archives to ensure all Obama-Biden administration records are "appropriately in the possession of the Archives."

Sauber said Biden periodically used the office space at the center from mid-2017 until the beginning of his 2020 campaign.

A source familiar with the inquiry told NPR's Carrie Johnson that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland had tasked Trump-era U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. in Chicago with reviewing the matter.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

News of the documents and DOJ review comes as former DOJ integrity chief Jack Smith is investigating the potential mishandling of classified documents by former President Donald Trump, which were seized from his Florida home last August. Smith is also looking into aspects of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump took to his social media platform Truth Social after hearing the news, where he posted, "When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified."
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Dustin Jones
Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.