Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed special counsel to investigate President Biden’s handling of classified documents dating back to the Obama administration.
Garland tapped Robert Hur, a former US attorney, to handle the investigation. The Justice Department escalated it to a special counsel investigation from a mere review on Thursday after a second stash of classified documents was found inside the garage of Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home. The first documents were found inside the Washington offices of the Penn Biden Center think tank.
“Earlier today, I signed an order appointing Robert Hur a special counsel for the matter I have just described,” Garland said Thursday after outlining the located documents. “The document 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.”
Hur worked in the DOJ’s criminal division investigating counterterrorism, corporate fraud, and appellate matters, Garland said. Hur served as the US Attorney for the District of Maryland until he left the DOJ in 2021.
“I am confident that Mr. Hur will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner and in accordance with the highest traditions of this department,” Garland added.
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The White House Counsel’s Office searched Biden’s two residences in Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington, Delaware, this week after news of the first documents broke. White House lawyers say they immediately contacted the DOJ when they discovered the documents inside the Wilmington garage. There has been no indication of what the documents contain or whether Biden or anyone else read them after he left office as vice president.
“Lawyers discovered among personal and political papers a small number of additional Obama-Biden administration records with classified markings. All but one of these documents were found in storage space in the President’s Wilmington residence garage,” White House lawyers wrote in a Thursday statement. “One document consisting of one page was discovered among stored materials in an adjacent room.”
The White House says no documents were found at Biden’s residence in Rehoboth Beach. Biden’s administration has also arranged to deliver the documents to the DOJ.
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The Wilmington documents are the second stash of Obama-era classified documents to be uncovered. The first collection was found at the Washington offices of the Penn Biden Center, a Biden-aligned think tank.
Biden sparred with Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy over the second group of documents on Thursday.
“Classified documents next to your Corvette? What were you thinking?” Doocy asked.
“I’m going to get the chance to speak on all of this, God willing it’ll be soon, but I said earlier this week — and by the way my Corvette is in a locked garage. It’s not like it’s sitting out in the street,” Biden responded.
“So the documents were in a locked garage,” Doocy prompted.
“Yes, as well as my Corvette. But as I said earlier this week, people know I take classified documents and classified material seriously,” Biden said. “I also said we’re cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department’s review.”
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The discovery echoes revelations last year that former President Donald Trump had housed a trove of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida after leaving office. The FBI ultimately raided his residence to recover some 300 classified documents.