Special counsel appointed for probe into Biden classified files
Investigation will be spearheaded by Robert K. Hur, former Maryland federal prosecutor who was top official in Trump administration’s Justice Department
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that he is appointing a special counsel to investigate classified documents discovered in the Delaware home and former office of President Joe Biden.
The probe will be led by Robert K. Hur, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland who also served as a senior Justice Department official during the Trump administration. Before that, he clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court and spent time working for prominent law firms in Washington.
Garland said Thursday he believes Hur will handle the investigation “in an even-handed and urgent manner,” looking into whether “any person or entity violated the law in connection with this matter.”
Biden's personal lawyers reported finding about 10 documents on Nov. 2 at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a Washington-based institute Biden started after leaving the vice presidency in 2017.
They are said to have turned the documents over to the National Archives and Records Administration, which is in charge of storing and preserving presidential records.
On Thursday, the president's legal representatives disclosed the discovery of additional classified documents found after searching his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Hur's appointment comes less than just two months after Garland named another special counsel to oversee the handling of classified materials by former President Donald Trump, after the FBI seized over 300 such documents from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last August.
On Nov. 18, Garland appointed Jack Smith, a former federal prosecutor also known for investigating international war crimes in The Hague, to lead the probe after Trump and his GOP allies accused the Justice Department of being politically motivated.
While Trump is said to have fought against demands to return the sensitive government information for months, Biden said his team quickly turned over the documents.
“People know that I take classified materials and classified documents very seriously,” the president said Thursday. “We’re cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department’s review.”
While a special counsel ultimately answers to the attorney general, the process allows for more independent prosecutorial judgment and aims to avoid accusations of underlying political motivation on the part of Justice Department leaders.
In a written statement, Hur said he “will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment."
"I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service," he said.
Northern Illinois U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr., a Donald Trump appointee, was chosen by Garland to conduct the initial review of the documents found at Biden's home and former office before the attorney general decided on a special counsel.
The appointment of Hur comes after Republicans took the House majority this month, vowing to investigate various aspects of the Biden administration.
In apparent retaliation for the former Democrat-led House majority’s investigations into Trump and his allies, current GOP led House members approved the creation of a select subcommittee on Tuesday to run their own probes of Biden, his family and allies.