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Special counsel investigation leaves Biden and Garland in tough places


WASHINGTON — A new investigation by a special counsel into the discovery of classified documents at President Biden’s home and office puts him and his attorney general in awkward positions as another special counsel investigates his predecessor for his own mishandling of secret documents.

While the circumstances of the cases involving Mr. Biden and former President Donald J. Trump are markedly different, politically the new investigation will cloud the case against Mr. Trump, who is already using it to argue that he is selectively persecuted by the administration of a president he plans to challenge in 2024.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has sought to insulate the Justice Department from partisan charges by choosing Robert K. Hur, a veteran and Trump-appointed prosecutor, to review Mr. Biden’s team’s handling of the papers. The decision comes as the new GOP majority in the House embarks on an aggressive review of what it claims is the Biden administration’s use of government power against Republicans.

In ordering the appointment on Thursday, Mr. Garland instructed Mr. Hur to investigate “the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other materials discovered” in Mr. Biden’s Washington think tank and his residence in Wilmington, Del.

The White House has promised full cooperation while insisting that prosecutors will only find inadvertent errors. People familiar with the situation said several Biden associates had already been interviewed.

“We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the president and his attorneys acted quickly upon discovery of this error,” said Richard Sauber, a White House attorney overseeing responses to surveys, in a press release.

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Under Mr. Garland’s order, Mr. Hur is authorized to prosecute any crimes arising from the investigation or to refer cases for prosecution to federal prosecutors in other jurisdictions.

“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial and unbiased judgment,” Mr. Hur said in a statement. “I intend to follow the facts promptly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service.”

Mr Biden, who excoriated Mr Trump for being “irresponsible” with national secrets, must now answer for his own team’s mishandling of sensitive documents. Unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden, as far as is known, did not resist demands for the return of documents, and in fact his lawyers discovered them without being asked and promptly returned them. But the White House did not release the discovery to the public for two months, waiting until after the November midterm elections, before which it could have hurt Democrats.

As a new timeline presented by Mr. Garland on Thursday made clear, even then the White House did not fully reveal the extent of the situation in its initial statement. The statement, released on Monday, confirmed a media report of a first batch of classified documents discovered at his think tank in November, but made no mention of a second set found at his Delaware home in December.

It wasn’t until Thursday, three days after that initial statement, that the White House confirmed media reports of the second batch, which was found in the garage of Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington, and a final document. found nearby Wednesday night.

When a reporter asked Mr. Biden at an unrelated event on Thursday why classified documents were being kept next to his prized Corvette, Mr. Biden replied, “My Corvette is in a locked garage. OKAY? So it’s not like they’re sitting in the street.

“But as I said earlier this week,” he added, “people know that I take classified material and classified material seriously. I also said that we are cooperating fully and completely with review by the Department of Justice.

The report was provided by Adam Goldman, Katie Benner, Jim Tankerley and Karoun Demirjian.

nytimes Gt

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