Attorney General Appoints Special Counsel to Investigate Documents Found at Biden’s Home, Former Office

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Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel on Jan. 12 to investigate whether any person or group broke the law in the handling of classified materials found in an office President Joe Biden had used, as well as in one of Biden’s homes.

“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 facts and the law,” Garland, a Biden appointee, said in a prepared statement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) headquarters in Washington.

Garland appointed Robert Hur, a former federal prosecutor, as special counsel.

The attorney general said the “extraordinary circumstances” at play required the appointment.

Regulations state that the attorney general will appoint a special counsel when he determines that a criminal investigation is warranted and investigation or prosecution by the Department of Justice “present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances” and that “under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.”

The appointment comes after lawyers for Biden said they discovered documents with classified markings inside offices that Biden had used from 2017 to 2019, as well as inside two areas of the president’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Garland’s briefing was the first time the Department of Justice publicly commented on the matter.

Biden has said that he was “surprised to learn” of the discovery of documents inside the offices at Penn Biden Center in Washington. Earlier on Jan. 12, he defended holding the documents at his home, telling reporters that they were in a “locked garage” rather than “sitting out on the street.”

“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, a lawyer for Biden, said in a statement after Garland’s announcement.

By Zachary Stieber

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