By ZEKE MILLER and ERIC TUCKER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed a special counsel to investigate the presence of documents with classified marking found at President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at an office in Washington.
The announcement followed Biden’s acknowledgement Thursday morning that a document with classified markings from his time as vice president was found in his personal library, along with other documents found in his garage. Garland said Biden’s lawyers informed the Justice Department Thursday morning of the discovery of a classified document at Biden’s home, after FBI agents first retrieved other documents from the garage in December. It was disclosed on Monday that sensitive documents were found at the office of his former institute in Washington.
Robert Hur, the 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 investigate the matter and who recommended to Garland last week that a special counsel be appointed. Hur is to begin his work soon.
“The extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter,” Garland said, adding that Hur is authorized to investigate whether any person or entity violated the law.
“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.,” Garland said.
Biden told reporters at the White House that he was “cooperating fully and completely” with a Justice Department investigation into how classified information and government records were stored.
“We have cooperated closely with the Justice Department throughout its review, and we will continue that cooperation with the special counsel,” said Richard Sauber, himself a special counsel to the president. “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.”
Biden’s lawyers found the first set of documents in a locked closet in the offices of the Biden Penn Center in Washington on Nov. 2, just before the midterm elections, but publicly revealed that development only on Monday.