The first classified documents surfaced in November in Joe Biden’s former private office and home, but it wasn’t until January that the White House publicly admitted the embarrassing discovery — pressured by a steady influx of media revelations.
Since then, searches of the president’s home have uncovered several sets of secret files in a snowball affair that threatens to overshadow the Democrat’s anticipated announcement that he will seek a second term in 2024.
Here is a timeline of the developments in the saga:
November 2, 2022
Clearing an office that Biden occasionally used between 2017 — following the end of his term as Barack Obama’s vice president — and the launch of his 2020 campaign, Biden’s personal attorneys find “a small number of documents” marked as classified in a locked cabinet.
The next day, the documents are turned over to the National Archives, as U.S. presidents and vice presidents must do when they leave office.
The White House is not making a public announcement of the discovery, which comes a week before critical midterm elections and at a time when Biden’s Republican predecessor Donald Trump is under investigation for his mishandling of hundreds of secret files.
November 9, 2022
The Justice Department begins an investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents.
December 20, 2022
Biden’s personal attorneys find more documents in the garage of his childhood home in Wilmington, Delaware, where the 80-year-old president often spends weekends.
The lawyers inform the Ministry of Justice and hand over the documents.
The White House has yet to make a public statement on any of the discoveries.
January 9, 2023
The White House, in response to media reports, confirms for the first time that classified papers have been found in Biden’s office, but makes no mention of those found in his Wilmington home.
January 10, 2023
At a press conference in Mexico, where Biden is on an official visit, the president says he was “surprised” to learn about the classified document discoveries and does not know what it says.
January 12, 2023
The White House confirms that a “small number” of classified documents have been found in storage rooms and in the library of Biden’s Wilmington home.
Facing uproar in the ranks of the opposition, US Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed Robert Hur, a Trump appointee, as special counsel to investigate the matter.
Bidens spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre tells the press that the search of his Wilmington home ended the night before, on Jan. 11.
January 14, 2023
In a new twist, the White House says an attorney found five additional pages of classified material in Biden’s Delaware home — just a day earlier, on Jan. 13.
The total number of documents found in Biden’s home and his Washington office has become unclear at this stage — with the White House variably referring to documents, pages, or “items” — and no details have been released about their classification level.
January 19, 2023
While touring California, Biden downplays the furor over the documents, declaring that “there is nothing” and that he has “no regrets.”
January 21, 2023
The president’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, announces that six more classified documents have been found in Biden’s Delaware home.
Contrary to previous discoveries, the latest search was conducted by the US Department of Justice — at the invitation of the president, according to his lawyers — and lasted from 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
The latest find included documents dating back to Biden’s tenure as vice president from 2009 to 2017, as well as his decades-long career in the Senate.
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