Special counsel to probe Biden's 'mishandling' of classified docs: DOJ
Attorney General Merrick Garland names a special counsel to handle the investigation into the US president's 'mishandling' of classified documents.
After a third batch of classified documents was found in the possession of US President Joe Biden on Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to handle the investigation.
Garland announced the appointment of Robert Hur, the former US attorney in Maryland, to lead the investigation, instead of John Lausch, the US attorney from Chicago whom Garland had previously assigned to look into the documents.
"It's in a locked garage, okay? So it's not like they're sitting out in the street," Biden told reporters on Thursday about the latest discovery. "Yes, as well as my Corvette," he added, when asked to clarify.
Biden cooperated with the Department of Justice and the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), to which presidents are supposed to surrender their files when they leave office.
While Biden is the sitting US President, the files date back to the time when he was US Vice President, from 2009 until 2017.
Read next: McCarthy calls for investigating Biden over classified documents
As the investigation into Biden's mishandling of sensitive documents begins to unfold, his predecessor, Donald Trump, made a statement.
"Merrick Garland has to immediately end Special Counsel investigation into anything related to me because I did everything right, and appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Joe Biden who hates Biden as much as Jack Smith hates me," Trump said on his Truth Social account on Thursday.
Similar to Biden, Trump is under investigation for potentially mishandling classified files, but unlike Biden, the FBI raided his Florida home last year and found hundreds of files it had correctly surmised had not been returned to NARA.
Private office at Penn Biden center not authorized to store classified docs: Garland
A Biden-related think tank in Washington was not authorized to store classified documents pertaining to the period when Biden was vice president of the United States, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday.
Garland explained that on the evening of November 4, 2022, the National Archives Office of Inspector General, contacted a prosecutor at the Department of Justice, adding that officer informed him that the White House had notified the archives that documents bearing classification markings were identified at the office of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, located in Washington, DC.
The officer, according to Garland, emphasized that the office was not authorized to store classified documents.
Garland urges Special Counsel to probe Biden mishandling documents
Garland concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel to investigate Biden's mishandling of classified government documents from the time he was vice president of the United States.
"I concluded that under the Special Counsel regulations, it was in the public interest to appoint a special counsel," Garland said during a press conference.
He also stated that the special counsel will investigate whether any person or entity violated federal law in connection with the incident involving Biden's classified documents.
Classified docs were 'inadvertently misplaced': Biden lawyer
A White House lawyer said Thursday that the classified documents discovered at Joe Biden's former office and private residence were "inadvertently misplaced," and that the US president would "cooperate" with a special counsel appointed to investigate the matter.
"We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the President and his lawyers acted promptly upon discovery of this mistake," Richard Sauber, senior advisor to the White House Counsel's Office, said in a statement.
On another note, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called for a Congressional investigation of Biden after classified documents were found at his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
"Congress has to investigate this," McCarthy said, pointing to the Justice Department's investigation of former president Donald Trump for keeping more than 100 classified documents at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Moreover, Republican lawmakers in Congress will look into Biden's mishandling of classified government records while serving as vice president because it is a serious felony, Republican Congressman Paul Gosar said on Thursday.
Read next: Biden escaped with more secret papers than whistleblowers: Snowden
Two days ago, Biden said that he was "surprised" to learn that classified documents were taken to his personal office after he left the vice presidency and that he has no idea what is in the records. Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill demanded more information about the discovery that prompted a Justice Department investigation.
“I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there are any government records that were taken there to that office,” Biden said during a news conference in Mexico City on Tuesday evening.
This came after the White House confirmed that the US Justice Department is reviewing a batch of potentially classified documents found in the office space of Biden's former institute in Washington.
Richard Sauber, special counsel to Biden, indicated that "a small number of documents with classified markings" were discovered when the President's personal attorneys were emptying the offices of the Penn Biden Center, where Biden kept an office after he left the vice presidency in 2017 until shortly before he launched his presidential campaign in 2019.