Friday, January 13, 2023

Investigation into Joe Biden's handling of confidential documents by a special counsel

Special counsel to probe Joe Biden's handling of classified documents

WASHINGTON: On Thursday, President Joe Biden's own administration appointed a special counsel to investigate the improper storage of classified documents at his home and former office, echoing a broader investigation into his main political rival, Donald Trump.

The investigation is a distraction for a Democratic president who has criticized the way his Republican predecessor handled classified information. It also may have an impact on Biden as the two prepare for a possible rematch in the 2024 election.

According to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, Robert Hur, who was the highest-ranking federal prosecutor in Maryland under Trump, will serve as a quasi-independent prosecutor to determine whether classified records from Vice President Biden's time in office had been improperly stored at his Delaware home and Washington, D.C., think tank. Hur will investigate "whether any person or entity violated the law," according to Garland.

The White House said that some things were found in a room next to a locked garage at Biden's house and promised to cooperate.

In a statement, White House attorney Richard Sauber stated, "We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced."

The self-described "car guy" president responded, "Both are in a locked garage," when a reporter inquired about the wisdom of storing important documents next to his Corvette. People are aware that I take classified information and documents very seriously," he added.

Special prosecutors, typically appointed to politically contentious cases to maintain a degree of independence from the leadership of the Justice Department, are currently conducting inquiries into Biden and Trump.

However, legal experts assert that their cases are distinct.

According to Biden's legal team, fewer than a dozen classified documents have been discovered and the relevant documents have been turned over. A search conducted by the FBI in August turned up approximately 100 classified documents, prompting inquiries regarding whether Trump or his staff obstructed the investigation. Trump resisted doing so.

"The facts are extremely divergent. According to Kel McClanahan, the head of the law firm National Security Counselors, "The only similarity is there were classified documents that were taken out of the White House to somewhere else."

The special counsel who is looking into how Trump handled documents is also leading the investigation into the Republican's attempts to overturn his defeat in the election to Biden in November 2020.

Protected President Compared to Trump, Biden faces less legal risk as a sitting president. Because the Justice Department has a long-standing policy of not charging the person in the Oval Office with a crime, he has a lot of leeway when it comes to declassifying documents and probably won't face any legal consequences.

Trump, on the other hand, lost those safeguards when his term came to an end in January 2021.

Garland said that an initial investigation by Trump appointee John Lausch, the top federal prosecutor in the Chicago region, led him to the conclusion that a special counsel was required in the Biden case.

At a news conference, Garland stated, "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."

In a statement, Hur promised to conduct the investigation in an impartial manner.

Criticism from Republicans A few Republicans in Congress claimed that they would be in a better position to handle the investigation than the Justice Department.

Representative James Comer, who will be in charge of the House Oversight Committee, stated that "when special counsels are appointed, it limits our ability to do some of the oversight investigations that we want to do."

In November, shortly after Trump announced that he would seek the Republican nomination to run for president again in 2024, Garland appointed Jack Smith as a special counsel to oversee Trump's investigations.

During a search that took place in August at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, thousands of records, including about 100 classified documents, were uncovered. In September, Biden referred to Trump's actions as "totally irresponsible."

In the coming weeks, Biden, 80, is expected to officially launch a campaign for reelection.

Biden told reporters on Thursday, "People know I take classified documents, classified material seriously."

According to the White House, Biden is unaware of the contents of the documents.

The White House lawyer, Sauber, stated that when Biden's personal attorneys were packing files in November at an office Biden formerly used at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a University of Pennsylvania think tank, they discovered fewer than a dozen classified records in a locked closet.

According to White House officials, the documents were given to the US National Archives, the organization in charge of preserving government records.

On Monday, the public was made aware of that discovery by the White House. A White House lawyer said that a second set of classified documents from that time was found at Garland's Delaware home hours before his announcement.

Thursday, Garland revealed that the Delaware documents were discovered on December 20, indicating that the White House was aware of them but did not mention them in its initial disclosure on January 9.

According to Karine Jean Pierre, a spokesperson for the White House, the administration was unable to inform the public due to the Justice Department's review.

Robert Mueller, Trump's special counsel during his presidency, found insufficient evidence to conclude that Trump's campaign's contacts with Russia during the 2016 presidential race constituted criminal activity. Trump was cleared by then-Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, after Mueller did not exonerate him of obstruction of justice.

The impeachment of Democratic President Bill Clinton was also hampered by an independent prosecutor named Ken Starr, who discovered evidence of an extramarital affair with a White House intern.

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