US Justice Dept names special counsel for Biden documents probe

US Justice Dept names special counsel for Biden documents probe

US Attorney General Merrick Garland named an independent special counsel Thursday to probe President Joe Biden‘s alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Garland said Robert Hur, a private attorney and former government prosecutor, would examine whether the discovery of classified government documents in Biden’s home and in a research institute linked to the president violated any laws.

Garland said the “extraordinary circumstances” of the situation — investigating a sitting president — required him to take the extra step of naming an independent prosecutor to handle the probe.

It comes as another Justice Department special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating former president and Biden’s 2021 election opponent Donald Trump for concealing more than 100 classified documents in his Florida home.

Republican Trump has announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, and Biden, a Democrat, is weighing whether he will also run.

“This appointment underscores for the public the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability and particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts, and the law,” Garland said in a brief statement.

Garland said that Biden’s attorneys were the ones who reported the existence of the documents, found at his Delaware home and the Washington-based Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, to the National Archives, which has legal ownership of all White House records.

He said the Justice Department learned of the situation in early November and immediately began investigating.

In contrast, Trump only turned over some of the over 10,000 White House records kept at his Palm Beach, Florida Mar-a-Lago estate after receiving a subpoena for them.

The FBI subsequently raided Mar-A-Lago last August and found more such documents, including highly classified intelligence.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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