Garland appoints special counsel to examine Biden docs as Turner requests classified briefing

Dual special counsels now examining documents stored at homes, offices of both Biden and Trump

Credit: Rod Lamkey

Credit: Rod Lamkey

On a day when the U.S. attorney general appointed a new special counsel to examine the matter, Dayton’s congressman requested a classified briefing on the newest discovery of a set of classified files found from President Joe Biden’s time as vice president.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton — top Republican of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the expected incoming chairman of that committee — wrote Thursday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines requesting the briefing by Jan. 26.

The latest set of classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president were found at a storage space in the garage of his Delaware home, a White House lawyer said Thursday.

Garland Thursday appointed a special counsel to investigate the presence of documents with classified markings found at Biden’s home in Delaware and a former office in Washington, D.C.

Robert Hur, a former Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Maryland, will lead the investigation, taking over from the top Justice Department prosecutor in Chicago, John Lausch, who was earlier assigned by the department to look into the matter.

Appointment of a special counsel is not expected to interfere with Turner’s request for a briefing on the matter.

Garland last year directed a special counsel to investigate former President Donald Trump’s storage of classified documents in his Palm Beach, Fla. home.

These latest documents were uncovered days after the White House acknowledged that an earlier batch of files had been discovered on Nov. 2, at a think tank office Biden once used.

“The presence of classified information at these separate locations could implicate President Joe Biden in the mishandling, potential misuse and exposure of classified information,” a statement from Turner’s office said. “It raises significant questions as to why then-Vice President Biden maintained custody of such highly classified documents, who had access to them and for what purposes.”

Left unanswered at this time are details as to the contents of Biden’s documents, who stored them and whether anyone had access to them after Biden left the vice-presidency.

“In its oversight role, Congress has a responsibility to investigate and to evaluate the actions of executive branch agencies to ensure they are accountable to the people,” Turner said in his new letters. “The information I seek will further my understanding of both the enforcement and application of federal law and policy concerning the handling of classified intelligence information. It will enable me to determine the sufficiency and impartiality of federal law enforcement, as well as the propriety of executive branch actions.”

Earlier this week, Biden told reporters in Mexico City that he was “surprised” to learn that his lawyers had found classified government documents in his former office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, the New York Times said.

Biden told reporters at the White House that he was “cooperating fully and completely” with a Justice Department investigation into how the records were stored. He did not say when the latest series of documents were found, only that his lawyers’ review of potential storage locations was completed Wednesday night. Lawyers found the first set on Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections, but publicly revealed that development only this week.

Richard Sauber, a special counsel to the president, said after the initial documents were found by Biden’s personal lawyers, they examined other locations where records might have been shipped after Biden left the vice presidency in 2017.

Sauber said a “small number” of documents with classified markings were found in a storage space in Biden’s garage in Wilmington, with one document being located in an adjacent room. Biden later revealed that the other location was his personal library.

Biden said the Department of Justice was “immediately notified” after the documents were located and that department lawyers took custody of the records. The first batch of documents had been turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration.

Turner’s district now includes the city of Springfield and southern portions of Clark County. He is expected to become chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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