The Department of Justice debated whether to allow the FBI to monitor the search for classified documents in President Joe Biden’s home but eventually decided against it, according to a Tuesday report in the Wall Street Journal.
Three batches of classified documents were found on Biden’s property in recent months: one at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and two at his Wilmington, Delaware, property. But the FBI was not present as documents were recovered, and no raids have been conducted, which sources familiar with the matter told the Journal was because Biden’s lawyers turned over the documents quickly and continued to cooperate with the Justice Department in the investigation.
The sources added that the DOJ wanted to leave open the possibility of using the FBI if Biden’s lawyers did not cooperate as the investigation continued.
The Justice Department was reportedly concerned that the FBI’s involvement in the process of turning over classified material could complicate its ability to execute search warrants or subpoena documents if needed later in the investigation. The documents were instead turned over by Biden’s senior counsel, Richard Sauber, who has a security clearance.
The Justice Department began its investigation into Biden after a batch of classified documents was discovered at the Penn Biden Center in November, which was later revealed in January through media reports. Attorney General Merrick Garland launched a special counsel investigation after it was revealed in January that additional classified documents from Biden were recovered.
Robert Hur, a former prosecutor in the Trump administration, will head the investigation, which is set to begin by the end of the month.
The special counsel investigation into Biden was launched just months after a similar one into former President Donald Trump, who kept classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. In that case, the FBI raided Trump’s property after the agency suspected there were more documents than previously believed based on interviews and failed negotiations to hand them over. Trump has claimed he did no wrong in the matter.
The Justice Department has worked to keep both investigations separate, the Journal reported.
The White House has emphasized that Biden’s case is different because his team cooperated with the DOJ and National Archives while Trump’s team resisted requests to turn over the classified documents. The White House did not disclose that additional batches of classified documents were recovered at Biden’s property after news of the first recovery broke.