Report of the Special Counsel on the Investigation Into Unauthorized Removal, Retention, and Disclosure of Classified Documents Discovered at Locations Including the Penn Biden Center and the Delaware Private Residence of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Excerpt:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter. We would reach the same conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.

Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen. These materials included (1) marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and (2) notebooks containing Mr. Biden's handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods. FBI agents recovered these materials from the garage, offices, and basement den in Mr. Biden's Wilmington, Delaware home.

However, for the reasons summarized below, we conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecution of Mr. Biden is also unwarranted based on our consideration of the aggravating and mitigating factors set forth in the Department of Justice's Principles of Federal Prosecution. For these reasons, we decline prosecution of Mr. Biden.


The classified documents and other materials recovered in this case spanned Mr. Biden's career in national public life. During that career, Mr. Biden has long seen himself as a historic figure. Elected to the Senate at age twenty-nine, he considered running for president as early as 1980 and did so in 1988, 2008, and 2020. He believed his record during decades in the Senate made him worthy of the presidency, and he collected papers and artifacts related to significant issues and events in his career. He used these materials to write memoirs published in 2007 and 2017, to document his legacy, and to cite as evidence that he was a man of presidential timber.

In 2009, then-Vice President Biden strongly opposed the military's plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. U.S. policy in Afghanistan was deeply important to Mr. Biden, and he labored to dissuade President Obama from escalating America's involvement there and repeating what Mr. Biden believed was a mistake akin to Vietnam. Despite Mr. Biden's advice, President Obama ordered a surge of additional U.S. troops, and Mr. Biden's views endured sharp criticism from others within and outside of the administration. But he always believed history would prove him right. He retained materials documenting his opposition to the troop surge, including a classified handwritten memo he sent President Obama over the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday, and related marked classified documents. FBI agents recovered these materials from Mr. Biden's Delaware garage and home office in December 2022 and January 2023.

Also, during his eight years as vice president, Mr. Biden regularly wrote notes by hand in notebooks. Some of these notes related to classified subjects, including the President's Daily Brief and National Security Council meetings, and some of the notes are themselves classified. After the vice presidency, Mr. Biden kept these classified notebooks in unsecured and unauthorized spaces at his Virginia and Delaware homes and used some of the notebooks as reference material for his second memoir, Promise Me, Dad, which was published in 2017. To our knowledge, no one has identified any classified information published in Promise Me, Dad, but Mr. Biden shared information, including some classified information, from those notebooks with his ghostwriter. FBI agents recovered the notebooks from the office and basement den in Mr. Biden's Delaware home in January 2023.

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