- The Washington Times
Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The University of Delaware’s trove of documents from President Biden’s time as a senator is the Justice Department’s next likely target after investigators searched the president’s Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, residence for classified material on Wednesday.

Former FBI agents and government transparency advocates say to conduct a thorough search, investigators must rifle through the papers Mr. Biden gave to his alma mater after leaving the Senate to become vice president in 2009.

The University of Delaware is the only other known location where Mr. Biden’s papers are stored. In 2012, Mr. Biden donated papers from his 36-year Senate career, totaling 1,875 boxes and 415 gigabytes of electronic records, including committee reports, drafts of legislation and correspondence.

University officials have pledged not to make the documents public until two years after Mr. Biden retires from public life.

“If Biden brought classified documents to the Biden Penn Center [think tank] and his house, you can make an inference that there are possible classified records at the University of Delaware,” said Lewis Schiliro, a former head of the FBI’s New York field office.

White House spokesperson Ian Sams said the president’s personal attorneys are working with the Justice Department to identify places where classified materials could have been stored, but he declined to name specific locations.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment, and a University of Delaware spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Washington Times.

Republicans called for the FBI to comb through the University of Delaware documents after investigators searched Mr. Biden’s Rehoboth Beach house.

“The FBI needs to search Joe Biden’s Senate records at the University of Delaware next,” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican.

Agents did not uncover any classified materials during the search of the Rehoboth Beach residence, but they did remove handwritten notes and materials from Mr. Biden’s time as vice president, his attorney said.

Mr. Biden’s personal attorney Bob Bauer said the materials were taken for further review. He did not offer additional information. The search took 3½ hours — from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Mr. Bauer said.

“The search today is a further step in a thorough and timely DOJ process we will continue to fully support and facilitate,” Mr. Bauer said in a statement.

He said the search was carried out with the president’s “full support and cooperation.” It was conducted without advance public notice to protect the investigation’s “operational security and integrity,” the lawyer said.

The Washington Times confirmed that Mr. Biden’s attorneys consented to the search, meaning the FBI did not secure a search warrant.

The FBI obtained a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in August. Numerous agents seized classified documents that Mr. Trump had resisted turning over.

The search of Mr. Biden’s beach house coincides with special counsel Robert Hur’s first formal week investigating the potential mishandling of classified documents. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Mr. Hur last month.

Classified documents have been found at Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at the former think tank office he used in Washington after the end of his tenure as vice president in the Obama administration.

Federal law strictly forbids the removal or retention of classified documents or materials outside secured locations without authorization. Mr. Biden did not have that authorization during his tenure as vice president in the Obama White House.

The search of Mr. Biden’s Rehoboth Beach house marks the third publicly acknowledged FBI search for classified materials at a property associated with Mr. Biden.

FBI agents searched Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington in November and in January. The FBI also searched the offices of the Penn Biden Center in Washington after the president’s attorneys on Nov. 2 found classified materials locked in a closet. The White House did not disclose the FBI’s search of the Penn Biden Center at the time.

With the Rehoboth Beach residence search complete, the trove of documents at the University of Delaware is the next logical place to review, analysts say.

“The objective of this investigation is to secure the documents, so they need to search every possible place,” said Thomas J. Baker, who spent 33 years as an FBI agent and served as an instructor at the bureau’s training academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Obtaining consent to search the papers might prove difficult. The University of Delaware has resisted calls to make the documents public.

The documents stored at the school came under scrutiny during the 2020 presidential election after former Senate staffer Tara Reade accused Mr. Biden of a 1993 sexual assault. Ms. Reade said documents containing evidence to support her claim might be stored at the university.

Mr. Biden has repeatedly denied Ms. Reade’s accusations, and she has relentlessly advocated for making the documents public.

“I’m calling for the release of the documents being held by the University of Delaware that contain Biden’s staff personnel records because I believe it will have my complaint form, as well as my separation letter and other documents,” she said in 2020. “Maybe if other staffers that have tried to file complaints would come to light — why are they under seal? And why won’t they be released to the public?”

Judicial Watch, a conservative government transparency group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the documents after the university refused to release the materials.

The Delaware Superior Court sided with the university, saying the materials could not be released. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Delaware Supreme Court. The appeal is pending.

“You would need a search warrant,” Mr. Schilliro said. “You would still have the expectation of privacy because the University of Delaware is not a public area. Unless they consented, you would need a search warrant.”

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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