The US Justice Department is reviewing a batch of potentially classified documents found in the Washington office space of President Joe Biden's former institute, the White House says.
Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said "a small number of documents with classified markings" were discovered as Biden's personal lawyers were clearing out the offices of the Penn Biden Center, where the president kept an office after he left the vice presidency in 2017 until shortly before he launched his 2020 presidential campaign in 2019.
The documents were found on November 2, 2022, in a "locked closet" at the think tank, Sauber said.
Sauber said the lawyers immediately alerted the White House Counsel's office, who notified the National Archives and Records Administration, which took custody of the documents the next day.
"Since that discovery, the president's personal attorneys have cooperated with the archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives," Sauber said on Monday.
A person who is familiar with the matter but not authorised to discuss it publicly said Attorney-General Merrick Garland asked US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch to review the matter after the Archives referred the issue to the department. Lausch is one of the few US attorneys to be held over from former president Donald Trump's administration.
Irrespective of the Justice Department review, the revelation that Biden potentially mishandled classified or presidential records could prove to be a political headache for the president, who called Trump's decision to keep hundreds of such records at his private club in Florida "irresponsible".
Trump weighed in Monday on his social media site, asking, "When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House?"
The revelation comes as Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives and are promising to launch widespread investigations of Biden's administration.
Repember James Comer, the new Republican chairman of the House oversight committee, said the revelation raised questions about the Justice Department's handling of the Trump probe.
"Is the White House going to be raided tonight? Are they going to raid the Bidens?" he asked reporters.
"This is further concern that there's a two-tier justice system within the DOJ with how they treat Republicans versus Democrats, certainly how they treat the former president versus the current president."
His Democratic counterpart, Jamie Raskin, said Biden's lawyers "appear to have taken immediate and proper action".
CBS was first to report Monday on the discovery of the potentially classified documents.
The Justice Department for months has been investigating the retention of roughly 300 documents that were marked as classified and were recovered from the Trump's Florida estate.
In that instance, prosecutors say, representatives of Trump resisted requests to give back the full stash of classified documents and failed to fully comply with a subpoena that sought their return.