- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2023

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday named a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation of why classified documents were at President Biden‘s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and a Washington office he once used.

Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland who had been a Trump appointee, will lead the investigation, taking over for John Lausch, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago. Mr. Lausch had been tasked with conducting a review of the classified documents that were found in Mr. Biden‘s former think-tank office.

Mr. Hur, who will begin his work immediately, will investigate “the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records,” according to the order signed by Mr. Garland on Thursday.

The attorney general promised Mr. Hur would get “all the resources he needs.”

“I am confident that Mr. Hur will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed manner in accordance with the highest traditions of this department,” Mr. Garland said at the Justice Department.

In a statement, White House counsel Richard Sauber said Mr. Biden and his legal team will cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

SEE ALSO: McCarthy readies congressional probe of Biden’s mishandling of classified documents

“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,” Mr. Sauber said.

In 2003, Mr. Hur served in the Justice Department’s criminal division, where he worked on counterterrorism, corporate fraud, and appellate matters. As an assistant U.S. attorney in the district of Maryland, he prosecuted violent crime and financial matters.

His tenure as U.S. attorney in Maryland ended at the same time as the Trump administration. It is tradition for an incoming president to fire the previous president’s U.S. attorneys and appoint new ones.

The announcement launches a major new phase in Mr. Biden‘s presidency. Until now, the president had mostly steered clear of legal headaches during his tenure.

Mr. Hur’s appointment, along with House Republicans energized by their fresh investigative powers, will put Mr. Biden on the defensive for likely the rest of his term.

It is the second time Mr. Garland has appointed a special counsel. In November, Mr. Garland tapped Jack Smith, a former war crimes and public corruption prosecutor, to oversee the investigations into former President Donald Trump, including his possession of classified government documents and his actions related to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

SEE ALSO: GOP wants answers over WH refusal to release Biden’s Delaware visitor logs after document discovery

Now it’s likely that two candidates for the presidency in 2024 will be under special counsel investigation for their handling of classified documents. Mr. Trump has already declared his candidacy, while the White House insists Mr. Biden “intends” to run.

“The Department of Justice has long recognized that in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public’s interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution,” Mr. Garland said at the Justice Department.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Garland should appoint a special counsel “who hates Biden as much as Jack Smith hates me.”

Though the Biden and Trump cases have comparisons, there are some key differences. Mr. Biden‘s legal team said they turned over the documents to the National Archives immediately upon discovery. Mr. Trump resisted several requests by the National Archives to return the documents.

Mr. Biden told reporters Thursday that he was “cooperating fully and completely” with the Justice Department probe, but has not reacted to the news of a special counsel.

Republicans had demanded Mr. Garland name a special counsel in the Biden case.

“Where’s the raid? Where’s the pictures of the classified documents? Where’s the special counsel?” tweeted House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican.

Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, wrote a letter to Mr. Garland demanding that he appoint a special counsel in the case. Mr. Hawley said Mr. Biden appeared to have done “exactly what President Trump did.”

But not all Republicans were on board with the idea of a special counsel. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, shrugged off the move, saying Congress should investigate the matter.

The White House revealed Thursday that a second set of classified documents from Mr. Biden‘s time as vice president were discovered at a storage space in the garage of his Wilmington home.

That announcement followed Monday’s announcement that the president’s lawyers found documents with classified markings at the Biden Penn Center in Washington, where he held an office, on Nov. 2, just days before the midterm election.

Mr. Sauber said “a small number” of documents were found in a storage space in Mr. Biden‘s garage. An additional one-page document was found in an adjacent room.

Mr. Biden on Thursday downplayed security concerns saying the garage is secure because that’s where he keeps his mint-condition 1967 Corvette Stingray.

“My Corvette was in a locked garage, OK? So it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street,” Mr. Biden told reporters at the White House.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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