White House lawyers have revealed classified official documents were found in a private office previously used by U.S. President Joe Biden.
The documents are from his time as Vice President. Classified documents are top secret and often contain sensitive material.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Biden documents
The White House says “a small number” of classified documents were discovered by Biden’s personal lawyers in November last year. They were in a locked closet in a private office Biden had used between 2017 and 2019.
The National Archives, which houses classified documents, was notified on the day of discovery and took the documents the following day.
The contents of the documents are not known.
The removal of classified documents from the National Archives is an offence under the Espionage Act. It is also an offence to conceal or destroy classified documents. These laws apply to presidents and vice presidents. However, for any penalty to apply, the Department of Justice (DOJ) must decide to bring forward a prosecution.
The DOJ is looking into the matter, but it’s not yet clear whether Biden will be formally investigated. The White House says Biden is co-operating with the DOJ. It is not suggested Biden sought to conceal any documents.
The Trump documents
It comes as former President Donald Trump is currently being investigated by the DOJ for both taking and seeking to conceal hundreds of classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
Some of these documents were handed over to the FBI on request, but others were only obtained after the FBI secured a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago.
Trump claims he ‘declassified’ the documents, which Presidents have the power to do, but there is no clear evidence for this claim.
Republican Congressman James Comer, chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform, noted the DOJ had treated document compliance as a “top priority… we expect the same treatment for President Biden”.
On his social media platform Truth Social, Trump asked: “When is the FBI going to raid the many houses of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?”