Elizabeth Elkind, U.S. Political Reporter For Dailymail.Com has compiled a timeline of events that have led to the growing scrutiny around President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents.
President Joe Biden’s personal attorney revealed that yet another batch of documents with classified markings were found in the Democrat’s Wilmington, Delaware home on Saturday.
It reportedly brings the total to some 25 to 30 pages found, as questions mount over why Biden had them and why the White House took months to disclose their existence.
Meanwhile the president’s critics have also lashed out at him for openly mocking his predecessor Donald Trump’s ongoing debacle with his own classified documents – which resulted in an FBI raid on his Florida mansion in August.
Biden called Trump’s mishandling of files, hundreds of which were recovered from Mar-a-Lago in the raid, ‘irresponsible’ during a September interview with 60 Minutes.
More recently, however, he’s been focused on downplaying his own growing scandal.
It comes as a new ABC News/Ipsos poll shows 64 percent of Americans believe Biden’s handling of classified documents was ‘inappropriate.’
The president has insisted that he and his team are being transparent and cooperative with investigators. He’s also brushed off reporters’ questions on the matter and outright ignored them at times.
Saturday’s discovery was made just four days after Biden insisted he had ‘no regrets’ in his handling of classified files.
Below, Elkind has compiled a comprehensive timeline of what happened and when – and what the White House had to say about it.
November 2: Classified documents found
The president’s personal lawyers found a small number of classified documents, reportedly 10, in a Washington, DC think tank where Biden previously held a private office.
Those documents dated to Biden’s time as vice president and were among his private possessions in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
The National Archives were contacted and took possession of the documents the next day.
On November 4, the Archives alerted the Justice Department that some of those documents had classified markings.
November 9: FBI opens investigation into whether anything violated federal law
Just a day after the November 8 midterm elections, the Justice Department quietly opened an investigation ‘to understand whether classified information had been mishandled in violation of federal law.’
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who revealed that probe two months later on January 12, said it was opened in line with ‘standard protocols’ by the FBI.
November 14: Garland taps Trump appointee to examine files
The following Monday, Garland chose John Lausch – then U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois – to look into how the documents ended up at the Penn Biden Center.
Lausch, who has received bipartisan praise, was appointed by Trump in 2017.
December 20: Biden’s lawyer tells US attorney about documents in Biden’s garage
In late December, the president’s attorney alerted Lausch to more classified documents that were found in Biden’s private Delaware residence in the upscale Wilmington neighborhood of Greenville.
They were found in a room adjacent his garage, according to a statement from the White House Counsel’s Office.
At this point in the timeline, the documents’ existence had still not been made public.
January 9: White House tells the public about Penn Biden Center records
The White House Counsel’s Office finally did inform the public of the classified files found at the Penn Biden Center on January 9, after CBS News first broke the story.
Questions immediately arose from Biden critics over whether there were ‘political’ motives to keeping the documents a secret less than a week before the midterm elections.
January 10: Biden says he was ‘surprised’ about Penn Biden Center records
The president made his first public comments on the matter the next day, after previously ignoring reporters’ shouted questions while he was in Mexico for the ‘Three Amigos’ summit with his counterparts from Mexico City and Ottawa.
He finally broke his silence during a press conference held by all three leaders, telling reporters that he was taking the matter ‘seriously.’
‘We are cooperating fully with the review, which I hope will be finished soon,’ Biden said at the time.
He also claimed, ‘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.’
January 11: One more document found in Wilmington
Biden’s attorney found an additional document in his Wilmington, Delaware home on Wednesday, January 11, according to NBC News.
The DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland were alerted to it the next day, when Garland confirmed its existence in his own press conference.
January 12: DOJ appoints special counsel
Garland held a press conference on January 12 announcing he was appointing former US attorney Robert Hur as special counsel to oversee Biden’s handling of classified documents.
It came after mounting pressure to make such a move; Garland appointed Special Counsel Jack Smith to oversee Trump’s own classified documents debacle nearly two months earlier.
January 12: Biden says he takes classified materials ‘seriously’
That same day, Biden told the press once again that he takes classified matters ‘seriously.’
But Republicans bashed his words as empty platitudes, citing the continuous disclosures of new discoveries as proof the president was careless with classified records.
‘As I said earlier this week, people know I take classified documents and classified materials seriously,’ Biden said.
He made the comments at the tail end of an address about the economy.
Biden added, ‘I also said we’re cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department’s review.’
January 14: Five more pages found in Wilmington
The same day Garland appointed the special counsel, Justice Department investigators who were on site to collect the additional page were made aware of five more papers with classified markings at Biden’s home.
‘While I was transferring it to the DOJ officials who accompanied me, five additional pages with classification markings were discovered among the material with it, for a total of six pages.
The DOJ officials with me immediately took possession of them,’ said Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president.
January 15: Republicans seek more information on Wilmington home
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer sent a letter to the Biden administration on Sunday, January 15 asking for a list of people who had access to the Wilmington address where the classified documents were found.
He also demanded and ‘communications related to the search.’
Comer gave officials until the end of the month to respond, but the White House has indicated that it has no interest in humoring Republicans’ probes.
January 16: White House says there are no visitor logs and calls Republicans ‘hypocritical’
White House spokesman Ian Sams went on the offensive the following day, telling multiple outlets, ‘House Republicans are playing politics in a shamelessly hypocritical attempt to attack President Biden.’
That day, the White House also said there were no visitor logs available for Biden’s Wilmington home, despite the significant amount of time he spends there, citing its status as a private residence.
January 17: Biden ignores reporters’ shouted questions
Three days after that discovery was made public, Biden was all smiles as he ignored reporters’ shouted questions about the documents just before a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands.
One member of the press could be heard asking whether the president will speak with Special Counsel Hur, according to Fox News – a query Biden likewise left unanswered.
January 19: Biden says ‘I have no regrets’ about classified documents
Biden continued to be defiant in the face of growing questions about his possession of classified documents as the scandal continued to overshadow his daily presidential duties.
While on a trip surveying storm damage in California, Biden told the press: ‘I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets, I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do.’
‘There’s no there there,’ he added.
Republican National Committee Spokeswoman Ronna McDaniel tore into the president over the remark, telling DailyMail.com that Biden was a ‘hypocrite who can’t be trusted.’
January 20: White House refuses to comment as Biden heads to Rehoboth
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre capped off a contentious week in the briefing room by shutting down queries on the classified documents.
Asked about Biden’s statement earlier that week while touring storm damage, Jean-hi 7Pierre said, ‘I’m not going to get into specifics, or I’m not going to go beyond what the president has said.’
Before that she would not even entertain a question on her announcement that Biden would be spending the weekend at his beachfront property in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware rather than his Wilmington home.
A reporter asked if that had anything to do with the classified documents found at the latter residence.
‘I’m not going to comment on that piece at all from here. I’m just going to continue to be prudent and consistent and respect the Department of Justice process,’ the press secretary said.
January 21: DOJ find additional documents ‘with classified markings’
Sure enough, the day after the White House refused to elaborate on Biden’s weekend movements, it was announced that six additional items were recovered by Justice Department investigators who had been conducting a search at the Wilmington home.
It’s not immediately clear how many of the six documents revealed on Saturday were top secret in nature, but at least some had ‘classified markings,’ per a statement by Biden’s private lawyer.
The apparently exhaustive search took over 12 hours.
‘DOJ requested that the search not be made public in advance, in accordance with its standard procedures, and we agreed to cooperate,’ the lawyer said.