A Timeline of the Biden Documents

January 15, 2023

What's Going On?

The public just learned of an investigation the Department of Justice has known about for months … with the president of the United States at its center.
What To Know. Why It Matters.

Initial Findings

  • Nov. 2, 2022: Classified documents from Pres. Biden’s time as vice president were found in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center in Washington D.C. by Pres. Biden’s personal attorneys. The White House Counsel’s Office alerted the National Archives, who took hold of the materials.
  • Nov. 4: The National Archives Office of Inspector General notified the Department of Justice about the documents.

November & December

  • Nov. 9: The FBI started an assessment into whether the documents had been “mishandled in violation of federal law.”
  • Nov. 14: Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed U.S. attorney John Lausch to complete a preliminary investigation, incl. whether a special counsel would be necessary.
  • Dec. 20: More classified documents were found in Pres. Biden’s personal residence. The FBI collected these documents.

Into the New Year

  • Jan 5, 2023: AG Garland says Lausch determines a special counsel – a lawyer operating independently of day-to-day DOJ oversight either to prevent a potential conflict of interest OR necessary in any other “extraordinary circumstances” – is needed. Garland says he identified an atty. to serve in that role in the following days.
  • Jan. 9: CBS News first reports the findings of the documents.
  • Jan. 10: Pres. Biden states he didn’t know what was in the documents and that he was “surprised” by the findings.

In Recent Days

  • Jan. 12: Garland announces Robert Hur, former U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, has been appointed as special counsel.
  • ALSO on Jan 12: Pres. Biden’s lawyer states an additional classified document found at Pres. Biden’s personal residence.
  • Jan. 15: An additional five pages of classified items found at Pres. Biden’s home.
“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment.”

Robert Hur, former Pres. Trump-era U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland – who also previously served in several roles within the Justice Department – was appointed by the DOJ as special counsel. After receiving his law degree at Stanford, Hur served as a law clerk for a former Chief Justice of the U.S., William Rehnquist; most recently, he has been working in private practice. Hur will be investigating the legality of the found documents.

What’s Next?

The contents of these documents, and their precise level of “classification markings” (confidential, top secret, etc.) are not public information as of now. Reportedly, the documents are from the time Pres. Biden was vice president. Hur will continue to investigate whether the unsecured possession of these documents broke federal law. Pres. Biden and his team continue to claim they do not know what is in the documents.

What we know about the Biden documents: A timeline (Reuters)

What we know about Biden’s classified documents investigation (Axios)

Who is Robert Hur, special counsel on Biden classified document probe? (Reuters)

Who is Robert Hur, the special counsel leading the Biden classified documents inquiry (NPR)

A side-by-side look at the Trump, Biden classified documents (The Associated Press)

by Jenna Lee,