The lawyer for the presidency assured that the confidential documents found in an office and in the private residence of Joe Biden had been “inadvertently moved”.
After the discovery of a new series of classified documents, this time in the private garage of Joe Biden, the US Department of Justice has assigned a special prosecutor to investigate the politically sensitive case. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that Robert Hur, a former federal prosecutor in the District of Maryland, will be tasked with determining whether or not Biden broke the law by retaining these documents after he left the vice presidency in 2017. . “The extraordinary circumstances require the appointment of a special prosecutor for this case”, Garland said. “This appointment underscores the ministry’s commitment to independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions based solely on facts and law.” Robert Hur had been appointed by Donald Trump to his post as a prosecutor in Maryland.
“We are confident that a careful investigation will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced and that the president and his lawyers acted promptly when they discovered this error”, for his part indicated the lawyer of the presidency, Richard Sauber in a press release published after the announcement of the appointment of a special prosecutor. The move indicates the embarrassment of the department, which had previously assigned another special prosecutor to investigate the illegal retention of other classified documents, this time by former President Donald Trump.
A secret discovery
On Monday night, a scoop from CBS revealed that Biden had also kept classified documents from his time as Obama’s vice president. These documents had been found in Washington in the offices of his foundation for political reflection, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement (Center for Diplomacy and Global Initiatives) on November 2, 2022, a few days before the midterm elections. They would then have been discreetly handed over to the National Archives, and their discovery kept confidential. The White House initially declined to comment on this CBS revelation. Then, a Biden adviser admitted that a “small number of classified documents” had been discovered in the back of a closet by Biden’s personal lawyers in the Center’s offices, and turned over to the national archives.
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On Wednesday, NBC News reported that a new batch of documents had been discovered by the president’s legal team, this time at Biden’s private residence in Wilmington, Delaware. Some of the documents were in the library. Others were stored in the garage that houses the president’s Chevrolet Corvette convertible. The Biden’s second home in the resort town of Rehobot Beach was also searched, but no other documents were found. The initial batch would have contained 10 classified documents, including US intelligence reports and briefing notes on Ukraine, Iran and the UK. Some were classified “Top secret”, the highest level. It is currently unknown how many documents were in the second batch of and what they were about.
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“People know that I take classified documents seriously,” Biden said Thursday in response to pressing questions from reporters. “I have also said that we are fully and completely cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation… My attorneys have reviewed other locations where documents from my tenure as vice president were stored, and they have completed this review the last night. They discovered a small number of documents bearing classified marks in storage areas and filing cabinets at my home and in my personal library.”
Biden in a delicate situation
But this affair places the American president in a politically delicate situation. It also makes possible prosecutions against Donald Trump by the Department of Justice for similar facts more complicated than ever. The Republicans did not fail to draw a parallel with the investigation opened against Trump for illegal possession of classified documents and denounce a double standard on the part of Justice. The FBI raided Trump’s private residence in Mar-a-Lago last August, where federal investigators found boxes full of confidential documents taken by the former president when he left the White House, stored in a room in the club. Other documents were found in a storage unit rented by Trump in Palm Beach.
The Democrats point out that the case is not exactly identical, that the number of documents is much less, and that Biden immediately turned them over to the archives, while Trump lied about their existence, then repeatedly refused to release them. to return.
But these differences are politically negligible. Biden, who had called“irresponsible” the possession of confidential documents by Donald Trump, finds himself in a difficult position to defend. Unlawful possession of classified documents is a serious violation of federal law, regardless of their number and whether their retention was intentional or unintentional. The Espionage Act stipulates, among other things, that anyone who “negligently allows classified information to be removed from its proper place of custody…shall be fined or imprisoned.”
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Biden’s violation of this law also complicates the Justice Department’s position. Garland had personally made the decision to send the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago. The appointment of a second special prosecutor, demanded by elected Republicans, makes it possible to avoid in part being accused of bias. But it will be politically difficult for American justice to prosecute Donald Trump for facts similar to those which Biden is now also accused of.
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