Senate Intelligence Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Nov. 10 requested a briefing on the discovery of the classified documents at an office President Joe Biden used before taking office.

“Our system of classification exists in order to protect our most important national security secrets, and we expect to be briefed on what happened both at Mar-a-Lago and at the Biden office as part of our constitutional oversight obligations,” the Democratic senator said in a statement to media outlets.

Documents with classified markings were discovered at a University of Pennsylvania office, which Biden used from mid-2017 until the start of his 2020 presidential campaign, White House attorney Richard Sauber announced on Jan. 9. According to Sauber, the documents were found on Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections. The public disclosure of the discovery did not occur until more than two months later.

The revelation prompted comparisons to the case of former President Donald Trump last summer, particularly regarding the treatment and legal consequences. FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August, during which documents marked classified were found. Trump, who said the materials were declassified before he left office, is currently being investigated by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

While Warner believes the two cases were different, he demands briefings on both.

“From what we know so far, the latter is about finding documents with markings, and turning them over, which is certainly different from a months-long effort to retain material actively being sought by the government,” Warner said.

“But again, that’s why we need to be briefed.”

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as he departs the White House on January 11, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Biden Responds to Discovery

In his first remarks after the disclosure of the documents, Biden said he was “surprised to learn” these materials were found at his former office in Washington.

“When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me, a secure office, in the Capitol, the four years after being vice president, I was a professor at Penn,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday.

“They found some documents in a box, you know, in a locked cabinet, or at least a closet. And as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box and they did what they should have done.

“They immediately called the Archives … turned them over to the Archives and I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.”

“But I don’t know what’s in the documents … my lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were,” he added. “I’ve turned over the boxes, they’ve turned over the boxes to the Archives.

“And we’re cooperating fully, cooperating fully with the review.”

House Investigation

The news of the classified documents has already prompted Republican lawmakers to call for a probe.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called for an “immediate review and damage assessment” of the material.

“This discovery of classified information would put President Biden in potential violation of laws protecting national security,” Turner wrote in a Jan. 10 letter (.pdf) to Avril Haines, director of national intelligence.

james comer
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 30, 2020. (Greg Nash/ Pool/Getty Images)

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, said the House panel is investigating Biden’s handling of classified material.

In the statement, Comer asked the White House Panel to provide documents that were retrieved from the former personal office of Biden as well as other communications and information regarding the materials.

“The Committee is concerned that President Biden has compromised sources and methods with his own mishandling of classified documents,” Comer wrote.

In a separate letter, Comer raised the question of “political bias” at the National Archives and Records Administration. (NARA) over what he described as “inconsistent treatment of recovering classified records” held by Biden and Trump.

“NARA learned about these documents days before the 2022 midterm elections and did not alert the public that President Biden was potentially violating the law,” Comer said in a Jan. 10 letter addressed to the agency’s Acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall.

“Meanwhile, NARA instigated a public and unprecedented FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago—former President Trump’s home—to retrieve presidential records,” he said, adding the contrast in treatment “raises questions about political bias at the agency.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to NARA and the White House for comment.

Katabella Roberts and Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

Dorothy Li

Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.

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