The appointment of a special counsel to investigate three sets of classified documents discovered in President Biden’s former office space and his home is just the latest event in a controversy that has been brewing for two months, even though it only just came to light this week.
Here is the timeline of how the documents were discovered and what was known to whom, and when:
Nov. 2, 2022 – Biden’s personal attorneys “unexpectedly discovered” documents with classified markings at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, located in Washington, D.C., according to Biden’s attorney Bob Bauer. The documents were from the Obama-Biden administration, and the attorneys alert the National Archives Records Administration — whom they anticipated would notify the Department of Justice.
Nov. 4, 2022 – The National Archives’ Office of Inspector General tells a prosecutor at the DOJ that it had been notified by White House counsel that documents with classification markings had been identified at the Penn Biden Center. That office was not authorized for storage of classified documents.
Nov. 9 – The FBI commences an assessment to understand whether classified information had been mishandled in violation of federal law.
Nov. 10 – The Justice Department notifies Biden’s attorneys that it had begun an assessment of the classified documents, and according to Bauer, Biden’s attorneys “were in regular contact” with the DOJ from this point.
Nov. 14 – U.S. Attorney John Lausch is assigned to conduct an initial investigation to inform the attorney general’s decision about whether to appoint a special counsel.
Dec. 20 – President Biden’s personal counsel informs Lausch that additional documents with classification markings from Biden’s time as vice president had been identified in the garage of Biden’s private residence in Wilmington, Delaware. The FBI goes to the location and secures those documents.
Dec. 21 – The DOJ takes possession of the documents found in Biden’s garage, according to Bauer.
Jan. 5, 2023 – Lausch briefs AG Garland on the results of his initial investigation and advises him that further investigation by a special counsel is warranted.
Jan. 9 – The first news reports break that DOJ is investigating classified documents discovered at the Penn Biden Center.
Jan. 10 – President Joe Biden addresses the matter for the first time on Tuesday and says he was “surprised” to learn about classified documents and is cooperating fully with the Justice Department’s review.
Jan. 11 – Biden’s attorneys search his two Delaware houses for other records, and find a page marked classified that was stored a room next to the garage in the Wilmington house. After finding one page of classified material, stop the search and notify the DOJ, according to Bauer. Biden’s attorneys then search the Rehobeth Beach house, but said they did not find any classified materials.
Jan. 12 – Garland holds a press conference announcing that in a Thursday phone call with Biden’s personal counsel, it was revealed that a third set of classified documents had been identified at the president’s home in Wilmington.
The same day, the White House Counsel’s Office announces the discovery of a third set of classified documents and says it has initiated a search of Biden’s homes in Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington. Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, travels to Wilmington where to look at the classified document found next to Biden’s garage. Sauber finds five additional pages — for a total of six — and hands them over to the DOJ.
Garland appoints Robert K. Hur as special counsel to investigate the handling of classified documents.
“Classified documents next to your Corvette? What were you thinking?” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asks the president in a press conference Thursday.
“I’m going to get the chance to speak on all of this, God willing, it’ll be soon, but I said earlier this week — and by the way, my Corvette is in a locked garage. It’s not like it’s sitting out in the street,” Biden responded.