Potentially classified documents from Biden's time as vice president found in his old office

A cache of papers from Joe Biden's time as vice president have been found at one of his old offices.

The US Justice Department is reviewing a batch of potentially classified documents found in the Washington office space of the president's former institute, the White House said on Monday.

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.

Mr Biden had kept an office there after he left the vice presidency in 2017 until shortly before he launched his 2020 presidential campaign in 2019.

The documents were found on 2 November last year in a "locked closet" in the office, 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.

A person 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, a Trump appointee, to review the matter after the Archives referred the issue to the department.

For months, the Justice Department has been investigating the retention of roughly 300 classified documents that were recovered from the Florida estate of Donald Trump.

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In that instance, prosecutors say, representatives of Trump resisted requests to give back the all the documents and failed to fully comply with the subpoena to return them.

In August, FBI agents served a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, removing 15 boxes of records.

That investigation is being led by special counsel Jack Smith, a former war crimes prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Prosecutors have interviewed an array of Trump associates and have been using a grand jury to hear evidence.

It remains unclear when a decision when will be made on whether Trump, or anyone else, should be charged over the papers.