The attorney general’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of classified documents found at a former office and Delaware home of President Joe Biden was characterized by a senior Justice official as a ‘textbook’ example requiring such an action.
While weighing the matter, Garland took the step of privately assigning a preliminary review to Chicago U.S. Attorney John Lausch, Jr., a holdover from the Trump administration, who ultimately recommended the attorney general take the action announced Thursday.
Garland said he decided to appoint a Special Counsel on January 5th, Daily Mail reported.
Four days later he was in Mexico City, at Biden’s side as the president ignored questions shouted from journalists about the matter.
The attorney general kept his eyes down, fiddling with the microphone, pen and pad of paper on the table before him as White House staff ushered the shouting reporters from the room.
Next to him, Biden also focused on the binder before him. Garland wouldn’t announce his Special Counsel appointment until two days later in Washington D.C.
The White House said they had no head’s up from the Justice Department on the announcement and Biden wasn’t warned what was coming.
‘We were not given a heads up and we learned from the press conference,’ press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at Thursday’s briefing.
And a Justice Department official told CNN that the White House’s public statements on the matter offered an incomplete narrative about the classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president, reinforced the need for a Special Counsel.
The misleading statements created the impression that Biden’s team had something to hide, the official said.
Biden was attending former Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s funeral when Garland announced he was appointing Robert K.
Hur as Special Counsel to investigate the classified documents discovered at Biden’s D.C. think tank and in his Wilmington home.
Hur, a former senior Justice Department official in the Trump administration who served as U.S. attorney in Maryland, to serve as Special Counsel.
He joins Jack Smith, a former public corruption prosecutor who is investigating the documents found at Mar-a-Lago and efforts to undo the 2020 election, and John Durham, who secured one guilty plea and lost two criminal trials in three and a half years investigating the Trump-Russia probe.
The White House said they will cooperate with Kur and are ‘confident’ the investigation will show the files were ‘inadvertently misplaced.’
‘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.
The documents date back to Biden’s time as vice president in Barack Obama’s administration. There are ten documents that involve the Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom.
There was also a memo from Biden to Obama, CNN reported, as well as two briefing memos preparing Biden for phone calls – one with the British prime minister; the other with Donald Tusk, the former prime minister of Poland who served as president of the European Council from 2014-2019.
Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre was forced to defend Biden against charges of hypocrisy on Thursday as she was grilled in her press briefing as to why the White House waited nearly a month to reveal there were additional classified documents in the president’s private possession.
The White House, reporters argued, had plenty of opportunities that included Sauber’s statement on Monday and when Biden addressed the issue on Tuesday in Mexico.
Jean-Pierre also said nothing about it in her Wednesday press briefing when she was specifically asked if there were additional classified documents in the president’s possession.
‘There was a process happening that was currently ongoing,’ she said.
‘This was the right thing to do,’ she noted.