The classified information from the Obama-Biden administration discovered Nov. 2 at a Biden-friendly think tank in Washington must have been moved there sometime after it opened in early 2018.
It’s not clear where the documents were kept after Jan. 20, 2017, when Barack Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden, left office after eight years.
It wasn’t until February 2018 that the current location for the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington opened in Washington.
Almost a year earlier the University of Pennsylvania named Biden as its Benjamin Franklin professor of presidential practice.
The FBI searched the Penn Biden Center in what CBS News described Tuesday as a “mid-November sweep.” The Biden administration previously disclosed that the FBI had searched Biden’s home near Wilmington, Delaware.
But that doesn’t address other locations where documents could have been located during the year between January 2017 and February 2018. Nor does it answer who moved the classified documents to the Penn Biden Center, and whether that person or persons were authorized to handle classified information.
Today's the day! This afternoon is our official opening in Washington, DC. We're so proud to introduce the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement to the world! https://t.co/J1ImoXcUE2 pic.twitter.com/dSBZhTGxm4— Penn Biden Center (@PennBiden) February 8, 2018
he National Archives and Records Administration issued a “no comment” when asked where Biden’s classified information discovered at the Penn Biden Center was stored from January 2017 to February 2018.
From a legal standpoint, the biggest issue will be any classified information that Biden kept from his 36 years in the Senate, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
“If anyone else had done this, there would be FBI raids all over Delaware,” Fitton, whose organization is a government watchdog, told The Daily Signal. “Anyone else who has taken classified Senate records would be subject to significant criminal liabilities.”
Appropriate officials should assess the potential damage if any of the classified information was exposed, Fitton said. He also noted that although congressional committees lack the capacity to execute a search warrant, they have broad subpoena power to ascertain where classified material was stored.
Neither the White House nor the Penn Biden Center responded to inquiries from The Daily Signal on the issue.
“This is like a scavenger hunt here. … We’ve got to find out where all the documents are,” Paul Kamenar, counsel for the National Legal and Policy Center, told The Daily Signal.
Kamenar’s watchdog group first flagged financial and other links between the Penn Biden Center and Chinese entities.
“You got multiple locations that have to be searched by the special counsel,” Kamenar said in an interview last week. “So they’re all over the place. It’s hard to find out, but hopefully these committees and the special counsel will get to the bottom of it.”
Here are six locations where more classified information retained by Biden could be located, according to government watchdog groups.
1. Every Biden Home
Biden has two Delaware homes, one in Greenville and another in Rehoboth Beach, which Fitton contends have not yet been searched properly. Town & Country magazine describes Greenville as “upscale suburb of Wilmington.”
“If we accept the presumption that all of the documents are still classified, then all of the residences should be searched,” Fitton told The Daily Signal.
Biden representaed Delaware in the Senate from Jan. 3, 1973, until Jan. 20, 2009.
Biden’s main 6,850-square-foot residence is in Greenville, a suburb of Wilmington where several classified documents were found in the house and garage, where the president stores his 1967 Corvette Stingray.
Biden has a three-story, 4,786-square-foot beach home at Rehoboth Beach, according to Better Homes & Gardens.
2. University of Delaware
The University of Delaware has kept Biden’s documents from his nearly four decades as a senator representing the state.
Presidents have the power to classify or declassify any documents. More recently, some Biden defenders have contended that an executive order by Obama gave his vice president limited authority to declassify.
There are no legal arguments that a senator has classification authority.
“The big issue is the Senate records, which are at the University of Delaware,” Fitton told The Daily Signal. “This has to be part of the investigation, because it’s part of the scandal and cover-up.”
Even before discovery of classified information in Biden’s former private office at the Penn Biden Center, the University of Delaware was a longstanding subject of litigation filed by Fitton’s Judicial Watch.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has called for a Justice Department-appointed special counsel to search the 1,850 boxes of Biden material at the university from his time in the Senate.
The FBI needs to search the 1,850 boxes at the University of Delaware that contain Joe Biden’s Senate records for classified documents NOW! pic.twitter.com/ipNU2jC17y— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 29, 2023
As a senator, Biden was chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which would have access to classified information.
The University of Delaware’s website says the Biden documents will not be made public until they are properly archived.
“President Biden donated his senatorial papers to the University of Delaware pursuant to an agreement that prohibits the university from providing public access to those papers until they have been properly processed and archived,” the website says.
The university is bound by, and will comply with, the agreement. Until the archival process is complete and the collection is opened to the public, access is only available with President Biden’s express consent. President Biden and his designees have access, under supervision of Special Collections, to the materials during the process. No Biden designee has visited the collection since November 2019. No documents have been added or removed by any Biden designees during any visits.
3. General Services Administration
The General Services Administration, the procurement arm of the federal government, also provided temporary office space for Biden in 2017.
When Biden’s second term as vice president ended Jan. 20, 2017, material he kept that didn’t go to the National Archives was sent to a temporary office maintained by the GSA a block away from the White House.
“GSA’s support is available for six months after the end of their term of office; while former presidents then go on to receive lifetime support from GSA, former vice presidents do not,” a spokesperson for the agency told CNN.
“In 2017, GSA provided approximately 5,300 usable square feet of office space to the outgoing vice president’s transition team at 1717 Pennsylvania Ave. NW,” the spokesperson said. “The outgoing vice president’s transition team vacated the space on July 21, 2017.”
The GSA location should be searched to determine whether any classified documents remain, Kamenar said.
One player in the process may have been Kathy Chung, an aide to Biden while he was vice president who had been recommended to him by his son, Hunter Biden.
The National Legal and Policy Center’s Kamenar said:
They’ve also investigated, or at least talked to, this woman who’s now at the Defense Department, who apparently was one of Biden’s aides while he was vice president, Kathy Chung, who Hunter Biden had known and recommended her to work for his dad in the White House.
She was apparently one of the people that helped move Biden’s documents out of the White House to, well, at least there was a temporary transition office that the GSA had across the street from the Executive Office Building where Biden had his vice presidential offices. So there was some documents stored there first.
4. Penn Biden Center’s Original Location
Before moving into its current location at Constitution Avenue NW near the Capitol, the Penn Biden Center had an interim office where some of Biden’s documents were stored in the summer of 2017.
Kamenar noted that this temporary office was near Chinatown, an interesting location for a center with ties to Chinese entities.
“That’s kind of coincidental, the location,” he said, “because the [Penn] Biden Center offices right now weren’t prepared back then and ready to move in. So they had a temporary office [in] midtown D.C. before they moved to the Penn Biden Center, which is at 101 Constitution Avenue.”
5. Rest of Current Penn Biden Center
CBS News reported Tuesday that the FBI had searched the Penn Biden Center with the cooperation of Biden’s lawyers and that a warrant wasn’t necessary. This search was previously undisclosed.
Still, government watchdog groups wonder whether the premises were fully searched. And, they note, the FBI search occurred before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Robert Hur.
The Penn Biden Center hasn’t been adequately searched, Fitton argued, since federal investigators apparently relied largely on the word of the president’s personal lawyers.
“I’m not confident that the Penn Biden Center was reliably searched,” Fitton said.
Biden’s personal attorneys first found the classified information Nov. 2—six days before the midterm election—and reported it to the White House. The matter didn’t become public until January.
“Recall that the private attorneys uncovered documents back on Nov. 2 at the Biden Center and then they started to go to the house and the garage, and they found some. But as we know, they did a bad job at the house,” Kamenar said. “And that’s why the FBI went in and found some more. Well, I submit they also probably did a bad job at the Biden Center back on Nov. 2. So the FBI needs to go back there and not only search Biden’s office within the Biden Center [as] his attorneys did, but search the whole Biden Center.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who ran the Penn Biden Center before Biden’s election as president, has said he was surprised to learn that classified documents were stored at the think tank.
There’s 14,000 square feet of office space that they have here downtown in the shadow of the Capitol building and other people in the administration had their offices there, including Antony Blinken, who was the managing director of the Biden Center and now is our secretary of state. And [Blinken] was also an aide to Biden when Biden was a vice president. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Tony Blinken was looking at some foreign policy classified documents. So they need to search his old office there as well.
6. Democrat Donor’s Mansion
In 2019, Biden rented a large house in McLean, one of the most affluent areas of the Northern Virginia suburbs outside the nation’s capital.
The residence, which reportedly was rented for $20,000 per month, was owned by entrepreneur and investor Mark Ein, a prolific Democrat donor.
MIDDLE CLASS JOE? On the trail, @JoeBiden notes that he was often the poorest member of the Senate.— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) June 25, 2019
But since leaving as VP, he’s raked in $200k/speech & now rents this nearly 12k-sq-ft 5 bed/10 bath McLean mansion with a gym, sauna & parking for 20+ cars https://t.co/deNc4FGLrQ pic.twitter.com/DdkuKtv0d9
“There’s probably nothing there, but after Biden left the White House in [January] 2017, he rented a huge mansion, 12,000 square feet in McLean, Virginia,” Kamenar said. “A place that had the sauna, the swimming pool, [and] can hold 20 cars in the parking lot in the front there.”
The four-floor house owned by Ein has five bedrooms and nine bathrooms and previously was rented by retired Army Gen. Alexander Haig, a former White House chief of staff who became secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan.
The residence includes a climate-controlled wine cellar, private studies, home gym, and a driveway that will accommodate 20 cars, according to Better Homes & Gardens.
Fred Lucas is chief news correspondent and manager of the Investigative Reporting Project for The Daily Signal. Original here.