The FBI found no classified-marked documents during a planned search of Joe Biden’s holiday home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter said, as federal investigators continued to look into the potential mishandling of classified information.
The search was consensual and performed with the co-operation of Mr Biden and his legal team, who previously searched the property on January 11th and found no marked documents.
The FBI took some materials and handwritten notes from Biden’s time as vice-president.
The FBI’s searched of a second home owned by the US president was part of an investigation into whether classified documents were stored in inappropriate locations.
Earlier on Wednesday, the president’s personal lawyer Bob Bauer said the FBI search was carried out with Mr Biden’s “full support and co-operation”.
Mr Bauer said in a statement that under the standard procedures of the department of justice in the US and in the interests of operational security and integrity, “it sought to do this work without advance public notice, and we agreed to co-operate”.
The FBI search of the holiday home on Wednesday follows the discovery by aides in November of documents marked classified at an office in Washington which had previously been used by Mr Biden after his term as vice-president ended in early 2017. Although the material was found in November, details only emerged in January.
Classified documents were subsequently discovered at Mr Biden’s main residence in Wilmington in Delaware.
On Tuesday it emerged that the FBI had conducted a similar search at a Washington think-tank, the Penn-Biden Centre, in mid-November after the president’s aides discovered a small batch of classified documents there.
It has been estimated by media in the US that between 25 and 30 classified documents dating to Mr Biden’s time as senator and vice-president have been found by the FBI and the president’s own lawyers and aides at the Wilmington and Washington DC properties.
US attorney general Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to examine the issue of how the classified documents, which are supposed to be sent to the US national archives after senior politicians leave office, came to be stored in the president’s home in Delaware and at the office complex in Washington.
The special counsel Robert Hur officially started work earlier this week on his investigation.
The searches by the FBI of homes of a sitting president are believed to be unprecedented.
Last year the FBI searched the residence of former president Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida and retrieved a trove of documents which were marked as classified.
Mr Biden at the time strongly criticised Mr Trump over the discovery, which he described as “irresponsible”.
Last month it emerged that classified documents had also been discovered at the home of former vice-president Mike Pence.
Mr Biden’s Republican opponents, who control the House of Representatives, have promised to investigate the discovery of the material and whether it presented a risk to national security. Additional reporting – Guardian