F.B.I. Searched University of Delaware in Biden Documents Inquiry

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. recently conducted multiple searches at the University of Delaware, which houses President Biden’s Senate papers, as part of the special counsel investigation into his handling of sensitive government documents, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The material recovered is still being analyzed, but did not initially appear to contain any classified documents, they said. The searches were undertaken with the cooperation of Mr. Biden’s legal team.

Last month, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed a special counsel, Robert K. Hur, to investigate Mr. Biden’s handling of sensitive government materials after classified documents were discovered at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a think tank in Washington, and the family home in Wilmington, Del., by Biden aides.

A search of Mr. Biden’s vacation house in Rehoboth Beach, Del., on Feb. 1 yielded no new documents that needed to be returned to the National Archives and Records Administration, according to Mr. Biden’s personal lawyer, Bob Bauer.

Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bauer, and Ian Sams, a White House spokesman, declined to comment on the search of the university. They referred all questions to the Justice Department, which also declined to comment.

It is not clear where at the university the F.B.I. searched, but it is possible that investigators were combing the archives for classified documents dating from Mr. Biden’s tenure in the Senate that ended up in his possession. Some of the classified material found during an F.B.I. search of Mr. Biden’s house on Jan. 21 was from his four-decade career in the Senate representing Delaware.

Mr. Biden graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965 with a joint degree in history and political science. After being elected vice president, he donated papers from his Senate career to the university’s library.

The general public cannot gain access to the collection without Mr. Biden’s permission until the university has processed and archived all the materials. The president and designated representatives can look at the materials, but have not done so since November 2019 — and no documents have been added or removed from the collection by any Biden designees, according to the university’s website.

The investigation is one of several into high-ranking officials’ handling of sensitive materials. Former President Donald J. Trump is also facing a special counsel investigation into documents taken to his residence and resort in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, but the two cases are different: Mr. Biden has cooperated with authorities, while Mr. Trump and his lawyers resisted efforts by the National Archives and the Justice Department to return the documents.

Like Mr. Biden, former Vice President Mike Pence has cooperated with the archives and federal law enforcement officials after his staff discovered classified materials at his house in Indiana.

The F.B.I. searched the house on Friday, with the assent of Mr. Pence and his lawyers. They found one classified document after the five-hour search, an adviser to the former vice president said.

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

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