A photo of Lady Justice

“... the extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing the appointment of a special counsel to further investigate President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents.

Published on

jan 12, 2023

Why It Matters: Garland appointed former U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, Robert Hur, as special counsel to further investigate the classified documents found at President Biden's think tank on Nov. 2, and the additional documents found in his Delaware residence – to which the DOJ was alerted of on Dec. 20 and Jan. 12. A special counsel can be appointed by the attorney general "to criminally investigate an individual or matter in cases where a Justice Department investigation would present a conflict of interest, or any other 'extraordinary circumstances'" (Cornell Law School).

  • Who is Robert Hur? Hur graduated from Stanford Law School, and also holds a degree from Harvard college. He is a "longtime federal prosecutor," and has served many roles within the Department of Justice (Axios). In 2017, Hur was nominated by former President Donald Trump to be US attorney for the District of Maryland. He was unanimously approved by the Senate in 2018, and served in the position until 2021. Most recently, he has "been working in private practice in Washington, DC" (CNN).
  • In a statement on being appointed special counsel, Hur said: "I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgement. I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service."
  • Also in a statement on Thursday, special counsel to President Biden said: "We have cooperated closely with the Justice Department throughout its review, and we will continue that cooperating with the Special Counsel. 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."
  • Important To Note: What is in the documents, when they are from, and how they got in the locations they were found in remain unknown. However, the President – and any elected official who has access to government records – has strict rules on how to keep and store such documents.
  • Pres. Biden spoke on January 12th, answering a question about the documents says they were in a locked garage - with his corvette. "People know I take classified documents, classified material seriously ... We're cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department review. As part of that process, my lawyers reviewed other places where from my time as Vice President were stored and they finished the review last night... They discovered a small number of classified documents in storage areas in file cabinets in my home and in my personal library....The Justice Department was immediately notified and lawyers arranged for the Justice Department to take possession of the document." (WATCH)

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks on the Appointment of a Special Counsel (The United States Department of Justice)

Garland appoints special counsel for Biden classified documents probe (Axios)

Who is Robert Hur, the special counsel overseeing the Biden document probe (CNN)

Garland appoints special counsel to investigate Biden docs (The Associated Press)

For more: A backgrounder on the storage, removal, and investigation into President Trump's classified documents obtained in August at Mar-a-Lago (SmartHER News)

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