Merrick Garland Appoints Special Counsel in Biden’s Classified Documents Case

/Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that he is appointing a special counsel to investigate how classified documents wound up in President Joe Biden’s post-vice-presidency office and in Biden’s Delaware home. At a press conference, Garland said he had appointed Robert K. Hur, a former federal prosecutor who served as the US attorney for Maryland during the Trump administration. In November, Garland appointed another special prosecutor, Jack Smith, to investigate the large cache of documents that was found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate during an FBI raid on the property last summer. Smith is also investigating Trump’s efforts to retain power following the 2020 election.
A DOJ official told the New York Times that the Biden case was “a textbook example” of an investigation for which a special counsel was necessary. Hur will have the power to investigate “the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records.” That includes the documents Biden’s lawyers said they found at an old office Biden used in Washington, DC, after serving as vice president, as well as another batch of documents found in Biden’s garage in Wilmington, Delaware. 
While both Trump and Biden are now embroiled in investigations into their retention of classified documents, there are some key differences in the two cases. As I wrote this morning, Biden appears to have been far more cooperative with the Department of Justice and the National Archives:
CNN reported on Tuesday that in November, Biden’s personal attorney was packing up documents from Biden’s old office and opened an envelope that appeared to contain classified documents. A source told CNN that the lawyer immediately closed the envelope without examining the information and that the Archives was notified later that day. After the first set of documents was found, Biden lawyers began searching for any other documents that might be improperly stored at other locations, a statement from White House special counsel Richard Sauber said.
In Trump’s case, the Archives had been requesting a number of the documents that Trump had allegedly retained improperly, and Trump had resisted returning them. Archives officials ultimately became concerned that the documents were not being secured properly at Mar-a-Lago, leading to the FBI raid.
Immediately prior to Garland’s announcement, Trump took to his Truth Social platform to say he thinks the discovery of documents in Biden’s garage means Smith should no longer investigate Trump’s own case. Also, Trump said, Garland should select a special prosecutor for Biden who despises the current president.
“Merrick Garland has to immediately end Special Counsel investigation into anything related to me because I did everything right, and appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Joe Biden who hates Biden as much as Jack Smith hates me,” Trump wrote.