The revelation came as the White House defended its public statements about the extent of the documents that remained in Mr. Biden’s possession.
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The access road to President Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., on Friday. The White House revealed that more pages with classified information were found in the garage of that home this week.Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Five more pages containing classified information were found at President Biden’s Delaware home on Thursday, the White House said on Saturday, bringing the tally to six such pages uncovered this week.
The additional pages, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said, were discovered hours after a White House statement on Thursday morning that cited only one that Mr. Biden’s aides had discovered the night before in a storage area adjacent to the garage of the president’s home in Wilmington.
Thursday evening, the White House said, Justice Department officials had gone to retrieve that page, and a White House lawyer had met them to oversee the transfer. Five additional classified pages were then identified among the materials with it.
The revelation came as Mr. Biden’s lawyers provided new details about their unfolding discovery over the past two months of classified materials from his time as vice president at his house and an office he used before beginning his 2020 campaign for the White House. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed a special counsel on Thursday to investigate Mr. Biden’s handling of sensitive records.
They also defended their decision not to be fully forthcoming about the matter. The White House has been criticized over its public disclosures, including why it did not reveal the discoveries much earlier, and why, when it acknowledged on Monday that some classified files had been found at Mr. Biden’s office on Nov. 2, it did not indicate that more had been found at his house the next month.
Mr. Biden’s lead personal lawyer, Bob Bauer, said in a statement on Saturday that the president’s legal team had tried to balance being transparent with “the established norms and limitations necessary to protect the investigation’s integrity.”
“These considerations require avoiding the public release of detail relevant to the investigation while it is ongoing,” he added.
He cited multiple rationales: Investigators at the Justice Department could object that identifying witnesses, documents, or events as the investigation was underway could compromise their work. And revealing certain details in public also posed the risk that as more information emerged, earlier statements could prove to be “incomplete.”
It was the White House lawyer, Richard Sauber, who said in a statement early Thursday that a single-page classified document had been discovered a day earlier among stored materials in a room adjacent to the garage of Mr. Biden’s Wilmington home.
Mr. Bauer said in his Saturday statement that once Mr. Biden’s aides uncovered the document, they “left the document where it was found and suspended their search of the specific space where it was located.” They notified the Justice Department the next morning and began “arranging for the delivery of that material.”
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Mr. Sauber said in a statement on Saturday that because he has security clearance, he had gone to Wilmington on Thursday evening to oversee the transfer of the document. When Justice Department personnel arrived, he continued, “five additional pages with classification markings were discovered among the material with it, for a total of six pages,” which officials “immediately took possession of.”
A person familiar with the matter said the six pages comprised more than one document.
Mr. Bauer also issued a timeline that filled in certain details.
After Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers discovered Obama-era documents on Nov. 2 in a closet of an office Mr. Biden had used at the Penn Biden Center think tank in Washington, the White House notified the National Archives and Records Administration of their discovery.
For the next eight days, Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers worked with the archives until Nov. 10, when the Justice Department informed them that it had begun a preliminary inquiry into what happened.
“Once the president’s personal attorneys heard from D.O.J., the president’s personal attorneys were in regular contact with D.O.J.,” Mr. Bauer said.
The National Archives’ inspector general told the Justice Department about the matter on Nov. 4, and the department opened an inquiry on Nov. 9.
Some critics have said the Biden team should have notified the Justice Department even earlier.
On Dec. 20, as has been known, Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers inspected the garage of the president’s Wilmington house and found what Mr. Bauer called “a small number of potential records bearing classified markings.”
According to Mr. Bauer, they stopped their search and alerted the Justice Department, which took the records from the garage the next day.
Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers were searching Mr. Biden’s houses in Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Del., on Jan. 11 for any additional records when they found the one-page file in the storage space in Wilmington.
“Following the search at the Wilmington residence, the attorneys proceeded to the Rehoboth residence and conducted a search there,” Mr. Bauer’s timeline said. “No potential records were identified at the Rehoboth Beach residence, and the attorneys returned to Washington, D.C., late in the evening.”
Mr. Sauber said on Saturday that Mr. Biden’s personal and White House legal teams did not anticipate releasing additional details.
“We have now publicly released specific details about the documents identified, how they were identified, and where they were found,” he said. “The appointment of the special counsel in this matter this week means we will now refer specific questions to the special counsel’s office moving forward.”