Audio Sources - Full Text Articles

What happens next after more documents found at Biden’s home

Listen to this article

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The White House revealed President Joe Biden’s lawyers found five more pages of sensitive files at the commander-in-chief’s Delaware home.

The GOP responded by requesting visitor logs for Biden’s home. However, the White House said that there are no visitor logs kept at Biden’s Wilmington home or private office — only for the White House.

“Like every President across decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal,” the White House Counsel’s office said in a statement.

Regarding the request for a log, Mitchell Epner, a member of the firm Rottenberg Lipman Rich, P.C., and former federal prosecutor told NewsNation, “It’s just a ridiculous thing that they’ve asked for because it sounds good; knowing that it’s not really a thing.”

Epner said he doesn’t think there’s currently a reasonable probability of any obstruction charges, because it appears that Biden and his attorneys have been cooperating with the investigation.

“Knowledge actually matters a tremendous amount here. If Joe Biden thought that what he had was the shooting script to ‘Jaws,’ but it turned out that on page 27 somebody had snuck in a classified document, the fact that it was found in his garage wouldn’t mean that he had committed a crime,” he said.

Epner continued: “It’s when somebody knowingly has classified documents or knowingly keeps classified documents when they’re supposed to have returned them that you have the potential for criminal liability.”

In terms of legality, many are wondering if Biden could face any consequences for having these documents for such a long period of time from when he was a sitting vice president.

Nick Ackerman, a former federal prosecutor, said the normal criminal statute of limitations here is five years.

“Unless something else happened in between, there really is no crime to charge,” he said.

Ackerman said there’s a larger issue at hand of how the government is cataloging records.

“My local library, when I was in junior high school, did a better job of keeping track of the books that I took out and made sure I turned them back in,” he said. “The real question is, what does the government do in terms of cataloging what’s given to people, to presidents, to vice presidents, to cabinet members? And what efforts are made when they catalog it to go back and make sure that everything’s turned back in?”

Ackerman added, “Why is it that local libraries do a better job than this than the federal government? That’s the part that I think really has to be addressed here in terms of some change and some reforms.”

Biden’s lawyers are still looking into whether other classified files.

The FBI is already involved, as a special counsel has been appointed, which means that an investigation is underway.

“I suspect that right now, what the investigation involves is a preliminary inquiry, which means they are looking to see whether there are facts to warrant whether a violation of criminal law has occurred,” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent. “So, they’re still in the very early preliminary stages.”

Biden restored the tradition of keeping White House visitor logs, including publishing them regularly, after the Trump administration ended doing that, the White House counsel noted in Monday’s statement.

She said whether or not they were secured in the garage, or in his house, these are not appropriate locations for classified documents.

“It may help mitigate the concern that unauthorized individuals have accessed it, but these are not authorized locations. So there are national security concerns here,” Rangappa said. “But I think it still remains to be seen whether there is a violation of any kind of criminal law.”

Meanwhile, former President George H.W. Bush didn’t keep visitor logs at his Kennebunkport, Maine home, similar to former President Donald Trump not keeping logs at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Republicans have sought to compare the Biden documents case with that of Trump, who faces a federal criminal probe of how he handled classified documents after he left the White House in 2021.

Democrats have unsuccessfully sought visitor logs for Trump’s Florida home for years.

There’s no indication that House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer has made the request to see visitor logs from Trump since classified documents were found at his Florida estate.

Comer has accused Biden of secrecy rather than transparency, stating to NewsNation, “We will continue to press the Biden administration for answers about who had access to these classified documents and why Biden aides were permitted to rummage through the Wilmington residence after the appointment of a special counsel.”

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is going on offense, pointing out that Republicans like Comer have not taken major issue with Trump having classified documents in his possession.

Reuters contributed to this report.