Joe Biden, the president, is a man who keeps a journal. And now, a special counsel’s probe into handling classified documents is incorporating some of those scribbled reflections from his decades of public service.
The purpose of seizing notes from his tenures as vice president and senator for decades that were discovered at his Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington, Delaware homes is still unknown.
The notes were erased, but Biden’s counsel did not specify if they were deemed to be classified.
However, throughout his eight years as vice president and 36 years in the Senate, Biden witnessed several susceptible events in American histories, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden and unfolding political turmoil in Ukraine.
A secret document from Biden’s time as a senator and vice president ended up in his home and old office.
The special counsel is investigating how this happened and whether any improper document treatment contained criminal intent or was unintentional.
But they must also decide if the notes they took are personal and so belong to Biden, in which case they will probably be given back to him.
According to the FBI, several of the documents that Trump owned also contained handwritten annotations.
An FBI agent said in an affidavit that several records returned to the National Archives in January seemed to be written in Trump’s handwriting when requesting authorization to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in August.
There is no indication in the affidavit that the agents thought those notes to discuss classified material.
According to the Presidential Records Act, records from a presidential administration, mainly those classified, should be kept at the National Archives.
There are occasional exceptions, such as when it is found that the documents are only personal.
However, even a handwritten note may be considered confidential if someone is taking notes concerning a secret document or briefing.
Such messages may be classified even if they are not labeled as such.
When taking notes during secret or top-secret meetings, Larry Pfeiffer, a former senior director of the White House situation room and Michael Hayden’s chief of staff in retirement, stated he would mark each page by particular levels of classification.
In those encounters, he claimed, “it’s quite obvious when they’re hearing classified stuff.” Pfeiffer gave his notebooks to the CIA archives after he departed the agency.
Longtime staffers claim that Biden has been maintaining personal journals for years.
Still, the public has only seen a small portion of them in his book “Promise Me, Dad,” which detailed the then-vice president’s suffering and sadness following the fatal cancer diagnosis of his son Beau.
In the book, Biden includes entries regarding Beau’s condition and passing that he made while on Air Force Two, at his house in Wilmington, at the vice president’s apartment at the Naval Observatory in Washington, and once when debating whether to run for president in 2016.