George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley believes President Joe Biden’s personal attorneys are “likely witnesses in a criminal investigation” following their discovery of multiple caches of classified documents at unsecured locations associated with the president.
The revelation last week that classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president had been discovered at the president’s former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington and his Wilmington, Delaware, residence has engulfed the president in a firestorm that continues to roil the administration.
Discussing the situation in an interview with Fox News, Turley advised that, for the president, the “most serious discovery would be evidence that Biden worked off their documents or removed them from their classification folders.”
“That would not only destroy the ‘inadvertence’ defense but make his public comments potentially deceitful of both the public and investigators,” Turley said on Jan. 16. “While gross mishandling does not require evil intent, unintentional violations are often addressed outside of the criminal justice system. The most serious violations have been prosecuted where material was intentionally removed.”
“Intent can be established not only at the time of the removal but during the storage of the documents,” he added. “If these documents were used or knowingly possessed over the six years, it would qualify as an intentional act to unlawfully possess the material.”
After news broke last week of the first batch of documents found at the Biden Penn Center in early November, Biden responded that he was “surprised” by the documents’ discovery and that he has no knowledge of the information they contain.
As for the lawyers who found the documents, Turley noted that they were not only likely to be witnesses in the investigation but that their involvement could also make things more serious for Biden and his legal team, as “use of private counsel without [security] clearances following the first discovery on Nov. 2 could itself be viewed as reckless and gross mishandling.”
In a Jan. 14 statement, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, noted that the attorneys who have been conducting additional searches for classified information over the last week do not possess active security clearances, which are required for an individual to view classified materials.
In a separate interview on Fox News’ “America Reports,” Turley noted the shocking nature of that fact.
“That means that almost two months later, you were still using uncleared attorneys looking for documents that you know have contained highly classified documents,” he said.
On Jan. 12, at the urging of U.S. Attorney John Lausch, who had been probing the matter, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of former U.S. Attorney Robert Hur as special counsel to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
“This appointment underscores for the public the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters and to making decisions indisputably guided only by facts and the law,” Garland said in a statement.
Hur, a Trump appointee, served as U.S. attorney to the District of Maryland from April 2018 to February 2021, when he left the Justice Department to return to private practice.
In addition to the Justice Department’s probe, House Republicans have launched their own investigation into the matter, requesting via a Jan. 12 letter “all classified documents retrieved by Biden aides or lawyers at any location,” as well as lists of all aides and lawyers involved in the documents search, their security clearances, the locations searched, and all documents and communications between the White House and the Justice Department or National Archives regarding the materials found.
In his letter to the White House, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, also stressed that some of the documents had been discovered at Biden’s Wilmington home—the same address that Hunter Biden listed on his driver’s license “as recently as 2018.”
“The Committee is concerned President Biden stored classified documents at the same location his son resided while engaging in international business deals with adversaries of the United States,” Comer wrote.
In a subsequent letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Comer also requested that Biden release the visitor logs for his Wilmington home, writing: “President Biden’s mishandling of classified materials raises the issue of whether he has jeopardized our national security. Without a list of individuals who have visited his residence, the American people will never know who had access to these highly sensitive documents.”
However, according the White House, no such visitor logs exist.
“Like every President in decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement to media outlets.
The U.S. Secret Service has corroborated that claim, telling The Epoch Times that the agency screens visitors but keeps no records of who those visitors are.
But Turley, in his interview with “America Reports,” said that the absence of those records could prove more damaging than helpful to Biden going forward.
“The House of Representatives has legitimate interest in who was in that house,” Turley noted. “The minute you store classified evidence in your house, there is interest in whether there [were] security violations or the possibility of being compromised. So, they can get that information from another source, and that source would be staff and family. They can start to interview them, and I think courts will support that because courts are not going to buy this argument that this is just one more private domicile on a quiet little street.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the White House and Justice Department for comment.