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Classified Biden documents: U.S. intelligence materials related to Ukraine, Iran and UK found in Biden’s private office, source tells CNN

Classified Biden documents: U.S. intelligence materials related to Ukraine, Iran and UK found in Biden’s private office, source tells CNN

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Among the items from Joe Biden’s time as vice president found in a private office last fall were 10 classified documents, including US intelligence memos and briefing materials that covered topics including Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has received a preliminary report on the investigation into the documents, a law enforcement source said, and now faces the critical decision of how to proceed, including whether to launch a full criminal investigation.

John Lausch Jr., the U.S. attorney in Chicago, has briefed Garland repeatedly. No further briefings are planned but will be held if necessary, a source said.

The classified documents date from 2013 to 2016, according to a source familiar with the matter. They were found in three or four boxes, also containing unclassified documents that fall within the scope of the Presidential Records Act.

The bulk of the items in the office contained personal documents of the Biden family, including materials on Beau Bidenfuneral arrangements and letters of condolence, the source told CNN. It is unclear whether the boxes of classified documents contained personal material.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago, a holdover from the Trump administration, to investigate the case, CNN previously reported. Garland made the move after receiving a recommendation from the National Archives and Records Administration.

The documents were discovered on Nov. 2, just six days before the midterm elections, but the matter did not become public until Monday due to news reports.

The source told CNN that a personal attorney for Biden is closing the downtown D.C. office that Biden uses as part of his work with the University of Pennsylvania. The lawyer saw a folder marked “personal”, opened the envelope and noticed that there were classified documents inside. The attorney closed the envelope and called NARA, the source said.

After contacting NARA, Biden’s team turned over several boxes with great care, even though many of the boxes contained personal material, the source said.

Lausch has already completed the initial part of his investigation and provided his preliminary findings to Garland, a law enforcement source said.

That means Garland must now decide how to proceed. Garland was also personally involved in some of the key decisions related to the Trump Dossier investigation and the FBI’s decision to search Mar-a-Lago.

On the Trump matter, Garland tapped special counsel Jack Smith to take over both the criminal investigation into Trump’s post-2020 campaign activities and the investigation into classified documents the former president took to his Florida resort. The Biden probe is nowhere near that stage.

Garland chose Lausch to conduct the investigation into Biden’s documents because he is one of two remaining Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys and to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because he was not appointed by Biden, people briefed on the matter said.

In addition to Garland, Lausch has held additional briefings with other Justice Department officials.

At this stage, the source said, Lausch is not expected to undertake further “fact-gathering”.

In an awkward moment Monday, Garland sat next to Biden at a diplomatic summit in Mexico as reporters shouted questions about the investigation. Both men ignored the questions.

Lausch was one of the rare holdovers from the Trump era who was not told to resign after Biden’s inauguration in 2021, and Illinois’ two Democratic senators supported the decision to keep him in office in part because he dealt with the politically sensitive investigation of Michael Madigan, the former Democratic speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, accused of corruption.

The turn of events with classified documents found in Biden’s former office has forced some politicians into a difficult situation.

Trump responded with a series of social media posts vilifying Biden and publicly calling for the FBI to search Biden’s offices and even the White House for mishandled documents.

Key Democrats on Capitol Hill expressed confidence in Biden’s handling of government materials, even though classified records ended up where they shouldn’t have been.

Newly empowered House Republicans have already pledged to expand their oversight checks to include the issue of the Biden documents, and some see NARA as subject to additional scrutiny.

On Tuesday, the new GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee asked the director of national intelligence to conduct a damage assessment of classified records found in Biden’s personal office.

“Those entrusted with access to classified information have a duty and obligation to protect it,” wrote Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio. “This matter requires a full and thorough review.”

CLARIFICATION: The story has been updated to clarify where classified documents were found in Biden’s office.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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