Items discovered last fall in the private offices of Joe Biden while he was vice president included 10 classified documents, including U.S. intelligence memos and briefing material on topics including Ukraine, Iran and Britain, according to people familiar with the matter.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has received an initial report on the documents investigation and now faces key decisions on how to proceed, including whether to launch a full criminal investigation, a law enforcement source said.
The documents date between 2013 and 2016, according to people familiar with the matter. They were found in three or four boxes that also contained unclassified documents under the Presidential Records Act.
Sources told CNN that the vast majority of items in the office consist of Biden’s personal family documents, including materials about Beau Biden’s funeral arrangements and letters of condolence. It was not immediately clear whether the boxes containing the classified documents contained personal material.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has assigned the Chicago U.S. Attorney, who remains with the Trump administration, to investigate the matter, CNN previously reported. Garland took the action after receiving a referral from the National Archives and Records Administration.
The documents were discovered on Nov. 2, six days before the midterm elections, but were not made public until Monday due to news coverage.
A personal attorney for Biden is closing the downtown Washington office that Biden used while working at the University of Pennsylvania, sources told CNN. The lawyer saw a Manila folder marked “Private” and opened the envelope to find classified documents inside. The lawyer closed the envelope and called Nara, the source said.
After getting in touch with Nara, Biden’s team scrupulously rummaged through several boxes, many of which contained personal data, the sources said.
U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. in Chicago has completed a preliminary investigation and provided Garland with preliminary findings, a law enforcement source said.
That means Garland must now decide how to proceed. Garland was also personally involved in some key decisions related to the Trump documents investigation, as well as the decision to send the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago.
Garland chose to let Rausch conduct the Biden documents investigation because he was one of the two remaining U.S. attorneys appointed by Trump and to avoid a conflict of interest because he was not a Biden appointee, the people said.
In an awkward moment, Garland sat down with Biden at a diplomatic summit in Mexico on Monday as reporters wailed questions about the investigation. Both men ignore these issues.
Rausch is one of the few Trump-era holdovers not told to resign after Biden takes office in 2021, and two Democratic senators in Illinois backed the decision to keep him in part because he was dealing with Politically Sensitive Investigation into Michael Former Democratic Illinois House Speaker Madigan has been indicted on corruption charges.
Clarification: This story has been updated to specify where classified documents were found in Biden’s office.
This story has been updated with more details.