Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate President Joe Biden after classified documents were found at his Delaware beach house and his former office.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents after troves of secret documents were found improperly stored at his Delaware beach house and his former office.
- The first tranche of classified documents were discovered shortly before the midterm elections at the Penn Biden Center, Biden’s post-vice-presidential sinecure at the University of Pennsylvania that received most of its $61 million funding from the Chinese Communist Party.
- A second batch of documents were found on Dec. 20 in the garage of Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware. On Jan. 12, an additional document with classification markings was discovered inside the Wilmington residence. The classified document imbroglio was not made public until CBS News broke the initial story on the Penn Biden Center discoveries on Jan. 9.
- Garland appointed Robert Hur, a former senior official in the Justice Department during the Trump administration, to investigate the president. Hur has been charged with determining whether “any person or entity violated the law.” Garland pledged that Hur would be able to act independently of political interference.
- Under questioning from reporters on Thursday, President Biden defended his decision to leave documents in his garage because “it’s in a locked garage, it’s not like its sitting on the street,” while simultaneously insisting that he takes “classified documents and classified materials seriously.”
- Congressional Republicans have demanded Biden release the visitor logs from his home in Delaware considering classified material has possibly been sitting in his garage since he left the vice presidency in 2017. Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Biden’s decision not to disclose the discoveries until after the election is “what makes America not trust their government.”
- Biden is just the latest prominent politician to be caught handling classified government material in a careless – at best – manner. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus have all been caught up in similar scandals.
- The Justice Department now must conduct two parallel special counsel investigations into the alleged mishandling of classified materials by the incumbent president and his immediate predecessor, who are each the leading candidates for their party’s nomination in 2024.
- The last U.S. presidential election to not feature a major-party presidential or vice-presidnetial nominee who’s been credibly accused of mishandling classified information was the 2004 presidential election.
- The classified documents affair has put the president in “unexpected political peril,” according to the Washington Post. The Post argued the special counsel probe could take the wind out of Biden’s sails just weeks after his party’s unexpectedly strong performance in the midterms and hobble any ability for Democrats to attack Donald Trump for his own classified documents investigation.
- CNN called the investigation “the worst political crisis of [Biden’s] presidency,” made worse by the White House’s “failed attempt at damage control.” The White House’s decision to disclose the discovery of classified documents to DOJ but not the public – especially the discovery of documents at his home – has “set up the kind of drip, drip of disclosures guaranteed to supercharge a Washington scandal.”
- The New York Times published a timeline of how the administration handled the discovery of classified documents. It is now publicly known that the prosecutor tasked with looking into the matter recommended a special counsel be appointed days before the news leaked to CBS News, and President Biden said he was “surprised” to learn about documents found at his former office even though the DOJ knew at the time that they had also been found at his home.
- The Washington Examiner linked the appointment of a special prosecutor to the other “storm clouds” gathering as Biden prepares to decide whether to seek a second term. The other legal challenge? The possible indictment of Hunter Biden by David C. Weiss, the U.S. Attorney for Delaware investigating the president’s son over potential tax and gun crimes.
- The Wall Street Journal profiled Robert Hur, the new special counsel investigating the Biden documents. Hur was formerly the top aide to Rod Rosenstein, the Trump-era deputy attorney general, an aide to now-FBI Director Chris Wray during the George W. Bush administration, and a former U.S. Attorney in Maryland during the Trump administration.
- Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review highlighted a Washington Post article from December arguing Trump should be sent to prison over the Mar-a-Lago documents case by citing recent cases of lower-level officials like Kendra Kingsbury who were convicted of similar offenses and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. McCarthy asked, “Certainly the Justice Department is going to apply to President Biden the same standard it applied to Kendra Kingsbury, and the same standard the Post wanted applied to Donald Trump, right?”
© Dominic Moore, 2023