WASHINGTON (Dispatches) - The U.S. Justice Department names special counsel for President Joe Biden’s documents probe after a second set of classified documents was found at his private residence.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday named independent prosecutor Robert Hur to investigate Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
Garland said that the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the discovery of the documents meant he had to appoint a special counsel.
Earlier in the day, Biden admitted to reporters that aides discovered the documents at a space he had used after leaving office as vice president.
The classified documents were “inadvertently misplaced,” a White House lawyer said Thursday, insisting the U.S. president would “cooperate” with the 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.
The documents were uncovered at a storage space in the garage of his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where he often spends weekends, his lawyer said.
Garland said Hur, who is a private attorney and former government prosecutor who worked on counterterrorism and corporate fraud cases, would be given the title of the special counsel and empowered to examine whether the caches found at Biden’s previous offices violated any U.S. laws.
“As I have said before, I strongly believe that the normal processes of this department can handle all investigations with integrity,” Garland said. “But under the regulations, the extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter.”
“This appointment underscores for the public the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability and particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts, and the law,” Garland added.
Garland’s announcement came hours after the White House acknowledged the second batch of papers in a statement that did not address their contents, supercharging a growing scandal over a first batch of documents found at a Washington think tank where Biden had an office.
Sources familiar with the matter said the second batch of documents contained classified information. They came to light as Biden’s aides conducted an extensive search of locations where he worked after leaving the Obama administration.
Biden’s aides were responding to the November discovery of classified documents at the Washington, DC, office of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center, which Biden used after his time as vice president.