(CNN) — President Joe Biden’s legal team has uncovered another trove of classified documents, following an initial discovery of records found in his former Washington office last fall.
During a subsequent search by prosecutors, additional classified documents were found at a second location, according to people familiar with the matter. Early declassified documents discovereds. That effort led to the discovery of additional documents of interest to federal officials reviewing the matter, a source said.
NBC reported He said that for the first time the new batch of documents will include classified documents.
The discovery of classified documents in November set off alarm bells in the White House, where only a small circle of advisers and lawyers knew about the matter. Efforts have begun to search other locations where documents from Biden’s tenure as vice president may have been stashed.
The White House declined to comment.
Earlier Wednesday, the White House declined to answer a series of critical questions about classified documents from Biden’s tenure, citing an ongoing judicial review when the vice president was found inside a private office last fall.
The documents were discovered on November 2, six days before the midterm elections, but the president’s lawyers publicly acknowledged the discovery of the documents on Monday.
The government materials were discovered during the closing of an office based in Washington: the Ben Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. The materials found included US intelligence memos and 10 classified documents covering topics including Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom, a source familiar with the matter said.
Biden said Tuesday that it did not appear that some of the classified documents were taken to his personal office after he left the vice presidency, and that his lawyers immediately contacted the National Archives and Records Administration and “did what they had to do.” Found in November.
The documents, the president said, were found “in a box, a locked cabinet or at least a closet.”
Still, key questions about the situation remain unanswered.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre declined to answer repeated questions about the documents, saying the Justice Department was continuing to review the matter. He could not say who brought the documents to the office and whether any other documents were found. He also could not say whether an audit was being conducted to find other possible documents or when the president was notified of the discovery.
Nor can it be guaranteed that any other offices do not contain additional classified material.
“It’s being reviewed by the judiciary. I’m not going to go any further than what the president shared yesterday,” Jean-Pierre reiterated the explanation during a press conference on Wednesday. “I’m not going to go beyond what my colleagues in the White House Council have shared with all of you.”
The situation has drawn criticism from Republicans, who argue that the federal government has established a political double standard in accessing mishandled documents. But there is a stark contrast between the developing situation with Biden and the ongoing story with former President Donald Trump, for example, who has refused to hand over documents in his possession. Trump’s legal team now hopes to benefit from the disclosure of classified documents in Biden’s possession after he leaves office, multiple sources said.
On Wednesday, Jean-Pierre was unable to answer critical questions about why Biden or his lawyers did not release the findings to the public sooner, especially given the time leading up to the 2022 election.
Jean-Pierre said he spoke with Biden about what happened when they traveled through Mexico earlier this week. But he said he did not speak to the President about those documents.
Pressed on whether the situation undermined the president’s long-standing public commitment to transparency, Jean-Pierre responded: “When his lawyers realized these documents were there, they moved them to the archives. . . they did the right thing.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed the U.S. attorney in Chicago to review the documents, a source familiar with the matter previously told CNN, which is still in its early stages.
A source familiar with his work told CNN that U.S. federal prosecutor John Lash Jr. has already completed the initial part of his investigation. He has presented his initial findings to Garland, the source said.
That means Garland now faces a critical decision about how to proceed, including whether to launch a full criminal investigation. Garland was personally involved in some of the key decisions related to the investigation of the Trump documents and the decision to send the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago.
Garland is in a difficult position in deciding whether or not to hire a special counsel because Trump’s legal team disclosed documents in private possession of Biden.
Compared to both Republicans and Trump allies, Trump kept hundreds of documents at his Mar-a-Lago home and resisted government efforts to retrieve them, while Biden’s lawyers turned over the documents the day after they discovered them. However, Trump’s legal team has discussed the matter internally and hopes it will ultimately help his legal case, including his argument about how easy it is for former presidents to take classified documents when they leave office.
“This is huge for us,” a person close to the legal team told CNN.
The White House is also facing bipartisan scrutiny from the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose leaders have sent a letter to DNI Avril Haynes seeking access to documents found in Biden’s private office, Sen. A spokesperson for Marco Rubio told CNN.
The letter from Rubio and the committee’s chairman, Sen. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, requests a DNI assessment of the damage and a description of documents found in Biden’s office and recovered from Trump’s residence. at Mar-a-Lago, the spokeswoman added.
Warner and Rubio filed nearly identical information requests after the Mar-a-Lago raid.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen, Katie Bo Lillis, Jamie Gangel, Marshall Cohen, Evan Perez, Phil Mattingly, MJ Lee and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.
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