Washington, Jan 12 (EFE).- The attorney general of the United States announced Thursday the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the investigation of President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents from his 2009-2017 tenure as vice president in the administration of Barack Obama.
“I am here today to announce the appointment of Robert Hur as a special counsel,” Merrick Garland said during a press conference at the Department of Justice (DoJ).
Accompanying the attorney general was John Lausch, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who led the DoJ’s preliminary investigation after classified documents turned up at an office in Washington used by Biden between 2017 and the launch of his campaign for the presidency in 2020.
“On Jan. 5, 2023, Mr. Lausch briefed me on the results of his initial investigation and advised me that further investigation by a special counsel was warranted,” Garland said.
“I concluded that, under the special counsel regulations, it was in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” the nation’s chief law enforcer said.
Subsequent to the initial find at the Penn-Biden Center, Biden’s lawyers discovered additional classified materials in the garage of the president’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Hur, appointed US Attorney for the District of Maryland in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, “has a long and distinguished career as a prosecutor,” Garland said.
“I will ensure that Mr. Hur receives all the resources he needs to conduct his work,” the attorney general said.
“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 the facts and the law,” he said.
The head of Biden’s legal team, Richard Sauber, promised full cooperation with Hur.
“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,” Sauber said in a statement.
Biden took a similar line earlier Thursday when reporters bombarded him with questions about the documents after he delivered prepared remarks about the economy.
“We’re going to see all this unfold, I’m confident,” the president said.
Challenged by a reporter to explain why he kept classified documents in the garage alongside his Corvette, the president replied: “My Corvette’s in a locked garage, OK? So, it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street.”
“People know I take classified documents and classified material seriously,” Biden said.
DoJ launched an investigation after the first trove of documents was found in the office at the Penn-Biden Center in Washington.
Though that discovery took place in early November, it only became public last week.
“As part of that process, my lawyers reviewed other places where documents … from my time as vice president were stored, and they finished the review last night. They discovered a small number of documents with classified markings in storage areas and file cabinets in my home and my personal library,” Biden said Thursday.
Months ago, Garland named a special counsel for the case involving classified materials recovered from Trump’s residence in Florida during a search by the FBI.
Rejecting comparisons between the cases, Democrats said that DoJ resorted to an aggressive approach toward Trump because the Republican mogul failed to return official documents that he had no right to have removed from the White House.