In a blow to President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed a special counsel to investigate the president’s handling of classified documents found at his private office along with recent discovery at his Delaware garage.
Garland named former U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur to probe the mishandling of classified documents associated with Biden that date back to his tenure as Vice President. In a rare news conference, Garland announced that he made the decision to appoint a special counsel due to the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the situation
“Earlier today, I signed an order appointing Robert Hur as Special Counsel for the matter,” Garland said in a brief press conference delivered from the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. “The document [order] authorizes him to investigate whether any person or entity violated the law in connection with this matter. The Special Counsel will not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the Department, but he must comply with the regulations, procedures, and policies of the Department.”
“Mr. Hur has a long and distinguished career as a prosecutor. In 2003, he joined the Department’s Criminal Division, where he worked on counterterrorism, corporate fraud, and appellate matters,” Garland added. “Under the regulations, the extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a Special Counsel for this matter. This appointment underscores for the public the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”
U.S. Attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, a Trump appointee was initially assigned by Garland to oversee the case and conduct a preliminary stage into the discovery of classified documents from Biden during his time as vice president. According to Justice Department sources, Lausch led the preliminary inquiry and said Garland was informed that further investigation by a special counsel was warranted based on the facts that investigators presented him from that probe. Garland appointed Hur to lead the probe after Lausch informed him that he would be leaving the Justice Department early this year for a private sector gig.
The announcement from Garland comes only two months after he appointed a special counsel to oversee the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified records.
Garland detailed the timeline of the initial investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents. Biden’s lawyers discovered a cache of documents at Biden’s former think tank office, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement just days before the November midterm election and turned them over to the National Archives. The American public was not informed of the initial discovery until recently as Monday when CBS News broke the story. White House confirmed reports that a “small number” of Obama-era classified documents from Biden’s former private office had been found.
On Wednesday evening, news broke that another batch of classified documents was discovered in an undisclosed location. Less than 12 hours after reports of the second batch of documents, White House counsel revealed the located documents with classified markings were discovered in two locations inside Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware. According to the statement, the documents were located “among personal and political papers,” and stored in the garage and an adjacent room. Biden frequently spends weekends at home, with last year spending 164 days of his presidency heading back to his Delaware residence.
The scandal surrounding the additional documents found at Biden’s Wilmington residence along with the reports earlier Thursday confirming the exact location prompted intense criticism which slammed the Justice Department over its double standards after former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was raided last August.
Moments after White House counsel revealed the second location, Biden took a question regarding the newly discovered documents Thursday morning. Asked by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy on what was he thinking in storing classified documents in his garage “next to his Corvette,” Biden bristled in response.
“My Corvette’s in a locked garage, OK? So, it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street,” Biden declared.
Shortly after Garland’s announcement, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the President issued a statement to express confidence that the Special Counsel probe into the classified docs that were discovered recently at Biden’s private office and his Wilmington residence garage believing the investigation will find the whole thing was just an honest “mistake” and the president had “inadvertently misplaced” them.
Neither the White House nor Biden’s attorneys have provided details on the exact amount of classified documents found, the kind of classification level, or what type of information each document contained.
The special counsel investigation, along with the aggressive new Republican-led House of Representatives, means Biden will be on the defensive for the next two years and could impede his decision on whether to announce a second White House bid which was expected to occur in a few short weeks.Biden Classified DocumentsClassified DocumentsJohn LauschJustice DepartmentMar-a-LagoMerrick GarlandPenn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global EngagementPresident BidenRichard SauberRobert HurSpecial Counsel