It was an office fit for a former vice president working in Washington — dark wood floors, plush chairs and a spacious desk set against the towering backdrop of the Capitol building.
This week, what happened inside that office — a think tank that spent eight years in the Obama administration after President Joe Biden — came under intense scrutiny from the National Archives and the Justice Department after revelations that classified materials from his time. The Vice President was found there.
The documents were discovered by the president’s personal lawyers in November, according to Biden’s White House lawyer. They were preparing to vacate the space less than five years after Biden cut the ribbon to open it.
Pictures and a floor plan of the space, public records obtained by CNN, show where Biden spent time after his vice presidency trying to build a foreign policy think tank.
When visitors to the Ben Biden Center enter the building at 101 Constitution Avenue NW, they must first check in with front desk staff in the lobby, according to sources familiar with the process. Visitors will take an elevator to the floor where Ben Biden’s central offices are located.
It would not be unusual to be told during the visit that Biden did not spend much time there, a source familiar with the office and its organization told CNN.
A door away from the elevator banks, guests will head to the reception area and a short pace to a large conference room adjacent to Biden’s office.
In the conference room, Biden was filmed will speak In a meeting with former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and in another meeting Photograph, speaking with UPenn students and alumni. Now-Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was fired laughing with the Japanese Embassy.
Denmark’s former prime minister, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and several Israeli politicians have also stopped the think tank.
Biden hosted a holiday party at the Ben Biden Center offices in 2018 that included former employees, a source familiar with the event said.
The conference room had a door leading directly to Biden’s private office, which featured tall, wooden display cabinets, blue love seats and a plaque on Biden’s desk. Reading“Mr. Biden – The Chairman” – an apparent nod to his time in the Senate, where he chaired the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees. Somewhere in the Ben Biden Center, a source familiar with the layout noted, was a dog bed.
Tucked away to the left of Biden’s desk, the floor plan shows, was a small closet. To his right, the conference room and office sandwiched a small closet and a large, walk-in-sized storage space.
Across a hallway is a cluster of enclosed office suites surrounding a central public gathering area; A source familiar with the layout estimated there could be 10-15 offices in total. A source with direct knowledge said the closed offices are for senior staff and the office has a dining room.
Cathy Chung, Biden’s executive assistant at the time, and another person sat in a two-person executive office directly outside of Biden’s office, according to the first source familiar with the layout. Chung, who now works at the Pentagon, Interviewed According to the security official, an investigation into classified documents found in Biden’s private offices. She did not respond to CNN’s attempts to contact her.
Chung was one of several members of the Ben Biden Center who later joined the Biden administration, including officials in the White House, Pentagon and other diplomatic missions.
Biden’s lawyers and the Justice Department have not disclosed where the documents were found inside the office, other than they were in a locked cabinet. Floor plans show shelves and storage space scattered throughout the Biden Penn Center.
The office has never been a US Secret Service location, as Biden formally lost his federal protection in mid-2017 after completing his term as vice president. Biden’s Secret Service protection Relaunched in March 2020When he became the Democratic nominee, Secret Service agents had no relationship with the Ben Biden Center.
The building is a short walk from the US Capitol and steps away from the federal courthouse serving Washington, DC. It’s in the same courtroom where special counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury is currently convening to investigate former President Donald Trump’s own problems with classified documents. If he wants to use one in the newly established special counsel investigation, it could be the home of the Robert Harin grand jury. Harr was appointed special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents on Thursday. The White House said earlier this week that classified documents were found at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The building also houses legal entities, lobbyists and trade groups such as the National Mining Association. There’s also Charlie Palmer’s Steakhouse – where Washingtonians frequent.