US president’s lawyer says the search, under ‘standard procedure’, is taking place with Biden’s full cooperation.
The FBI is conducting a search of Joe Biden’s Delaware beach house with the president’s “full support and cooperation” as part of a probe into his handling of government documents, his lawyer has said.
The search on Wednesday came after documents marked as classified were found at the Democratic president’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and an office space he had used in Washington, DC.
“We agreed to cooperate,” Biden’s personal lawyer, Bob Bauer, said in a statement, adding that the search was under the Department of Justice (DOJ) “standard procedure”.
“The search today is a further step in a thorough and timely DOJ process we will continue to fully support and facilitate. We will have further information at the conclusion of today’s search.”
Last month, US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents. The White House has said it will cooperate with the probe.
Biden’s team has allowed authorities into his homes as investigators sought to determine how classified files from his tenures as vice president and a senator ended up in his private possession.
“We are consistent with what we have said on cooperating fully with the Department of Justice on this issue. And we will continue to cooperate fully with the special counsel,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in January.
Wednesday’s search was taking place at the president’s home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware – a property that the Bidens bought in 2017 after Biden ended his eight-year stint as vice president under Barack Obama, The Associated Press news agency reported.
Separately, the Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation last year into Donald Trump’s possible mishandling of secret government documents. An FBI search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home in August had uncovered dozens of files with classified markings.
Garland has also appointed a special prosecutor to oversee investigations involving Trump, including the document probe. The former president, who is seeking the White House again in 2024, has dismissed the investigation – without evidence – as politically motivated.
Last month, Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, also reported finding classified documents in his home in Indiana, and his lawyers said he was cooperating with the FBI to return the material.
The White House has repeatedly stressed that it does not interfere in Department of Justice-led investigations.
It is illegal to knowingly and willfully remove or keep secret government documents, but no current or former president or vice president has been charged with a crime over the issue.
Bruce Fein, a lawyer and former Department of Justice official, said Biden is trying to show that he has nothing to hide by cooperating with the FBI.
“Unlike Mr Trump, he consented to this, so that there are no limits on the places to be searched in his beach house,” Fein told Al Jazeera. “So he’s trying to distinguish himself – with this cooperation – from Trump.”