The Justice Department considered having FBI agents monitor a search by President Biden’s lawyers for classified documents at his homes but decided against it, both to avoid complicating later stages of the investigation and because Mr. Biden’s attorneys had quickly turned over a first batch and were cooperating, according to people familiar with the matter.
After Mr. Biden’s lawyers discovered documents marked as classified dating from his term as vice president at an office he used at a Washington-based think tank on Nov. 2, the Justice Department opened an inquiry into why and how they got there. Mr. Biden’s legal team prepared to search his other properties for any similar documents, and discussed with the Justice Department the prospect of having FBI agents present while Mr. Biden’s lawyers conducted the additional searches.
Instead, the two sides agreed that Mr. Biden’s personal attorneys would inspect the homes, notify the Justice Department as soon as they identified any other potentially classified records, and arrange for law-enforcement authorities to take them.
Those deliberations, which haven’t previously been reported, shed new light on how the Biden team’s efforts to cooperate with investigators have thus far helped it avoid more aggressive actions by law enforcement.
In the week since news reports first surfaced about the documents, the incident has drawn parallels to the discovery of a much larger number of documents at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, which federal agents obtained a warrant to search in August after more than a year of negotiations between Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the National Archives and the Justice Department and after Mr. Trump’s lawyers said all documents had been returned.
Mr. Trump’s supporters have accused the Justice Department of a double standard in treatment; Mr. Biden’s supporters have pointed to the president’s legal team’s cooperation and swift moves to inform the Justice Department of the documents’ discovery as a key difference. [Continue reading…]