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Tipsheet

AG Garland Announces Special Counsel to Probe Biden's Classified Document Scandal

In an awkward turn of events, President Biden's Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday afternoon that the Biden DOJ was appointing a special counsel to investigate President Biden and his apparent mishandling of classified government documents that were found in Biden's Delaware garage and a University of Pennsylvania office he used in D.C.

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Garland announced that Robert Hur — a veteran of the Justice Department and the former U.S. Attorney in the District of Maryland under Trump who handled high-profile national security matters — would conduct an investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents following his service as vice president in the Obama administration to determine whether any illegal activity took place. 

The appointment of a special counsel follows an initial investigation of the mishandled documents by a U.S. attorney in Illinois, and an FBI assessment to discern if classified information was mishandled by Biden in accordance with federal law, the result of which led Garland to appoint Hur as special counsel to carry out a full investigation of President Biden's actions.

After being named by Garland, Special Counsel Hur released a statement saying "I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment" and he intends "to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service."

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Garland explained the timeline that led to Thursday's special counsel announcement:

On November 4, 2022, the National Archives Office of Inspector General contacted a Department of Justice prosecutor to tell DOJ that the Biden White House notified the Archives that classified documents were found at the Penn Biden Center, which was not authorized for storage of classified documents. 

On November 9, 2022, the FBI commenced an assessment to discern if classified information had been mishandled in violation of federal law.

On November 14, 2022, Garland assigned U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch to conduct the initial investigation to inform Garland's decision on whether to appoint a special counsel. 

On December 20, President Biden's personal counsel informed U.S. Attorney Lausch that additional classified documents were found in Biden's private Wilmington, Delaware, residence. 

While it's too soon to say for sure, the fact that the initial investigation necessitated Biden's attorney general appointing a special counsel to investigate his own boss suggests that there was some "there," there worthy of further scrutiny.

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Some shared healthy skepticism that the special counsel investigation will lead to any concrete legal issues, but the political impact of this significant development could bring sweeping political implications.

This is a developing story and may be updated.  

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