No documents with classified markings found in FBI search of Biden's beach home

The "planned search" took three-and-a-half hours.

February 1, 2023, 2:48 PM

The FBI conducted a "planned search" Wednesday morning of President Joe Biden's home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, according to Biden's personal lawyer amid an ongoing probe into the potential mishandling of classified documents.

Afterward, Biden's persoinal attorney Bob Bauer said no documents with classified markings were found, but "DOJ took for further review some materials and handwritten notes that appear to relate to his time as Vice President."

The search took place for three-and-a-half hours, Bauer said -- from 8:30 a.m. to noon ET.

"Today, with the President's full support and cooperation, the DOJ is conducting a planned search of his home in Rehoboth, Delaware," Bauer wrote in a statement released Wednesday morning after pool reporters spotted four vehicles there. "Under DOJ's standard procedures, in the interests of operational security and integrity, it sought to do this work without advance public notice, and we agreed to cooperate. The search today is a further step in a thorough and timely DOJ process we will continue to fully support and facilitate. We will have further information at the conclusion of today's search."

Hours later, White House counsel spokesperson Ian Sams came before cameras at the White House to address reporters' questions -- and did not rule out the possibility of additional FBI searches of homes or offices used by Biden throughout his career.

"I'm not going to speak to decision making that the Justice Department is going to make about how to conduct their investigation. That certainly would be more appropriate to be asked of them as opposed to us but, you know, we're being fully cooperative," Sams said when asked whether there are deliberations to conduct more searches.

President Joe Biden's residence in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Feb. 1, 2023, during a search by FBI agents.
Pool via ABC News

Asked point-blank whether the FBI has conducted any searches of any other locations associated with Biden, Sams dodged giving a yes or no answer.

"Look, I think we're providing information as this goes on and answering questions about the search activities as they've been happening," he said.

After Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Hur as special counsel last month to investigate the potential mishandling of classified documents, Hur was expected to formally begin his work this week, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Wednesday marks the second DOJ search the president's lawyers have acknowledged. The first was the nearly 13-hour search of Biden's Wilmington, Delaware, home on Jan. 20, disclosed on Jan. 21, which found additional classified documents after Biden's attorneys searched the home themselves in December and found some classified materials, the president's lawyers have said.

Biden's team has not acknowledged the FBI's search of the Penn Biden Center back in mid-November, which ABC reported.

While the contents of the dozens of documents discovered classified markings are still unclear, in a statement in mid-January, Richard Sauber, another lawyer to Biden, said: "We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the President and his lawyers acted promptly upon discovery of this mistake."

President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 13, 2023.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Biden has maintained he is cooperating fully with Justice Department authorities, but reporters have questioned whether the White House is being fully transparent on the matter.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has struggled at the podium when confronted with reporters' questions as news continues to break around the classified documents drama ahead of the White House informing the public.

Sams defended the White House's handling of the situation earlier Wednesday.

"I think we've been pretty transparent from the very beginning with providing information as it occurs throughout this process," he said. "We have released, probably thousands of words of statements from the president's personal attorney and the White House Counsel's Office about the process that has been undertaken here."

President Joe Biden's vacation home in the Rehoboth Beach, Delaware area.
Ralph Musthaler/The Daily Times-USA TODAY Network

Classified documents were also taken from former President Donald Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago last summer, in a court-authorized FBI search, after what the government has called a months-long effort to get Trump to return all of the classified material he kept after leaving office. Trump denies wrongdoing.

Former Vice President Mike Pence's lawyers recently did their own search of his Indiana home and found some classified records that he retained after leaving office, which he returned to the government, according to his attorneys. Pence said on Friday that it was a "mistake" and he was unaware the documents were there, but he took "full responsibility."

Biden has largely declined to comment on the classified documents found at his home and office but has said he was "surprised" records were located at the Penn Biden Center.

ABC News' Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.