‘Congress has to investigate this’
Emboldened by a new majority and armed with subpoena power, House Republicans were already gearing up for a series of investigations into the Biden family’s finances and Biden’s son Hunter.
The discovery of the classified documents opens up a new line of inquiry – one they are eager to exploit.
“I think Congress has to investigate this,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Thursday.
“Here’s an individual that sat on ‘60 Minutes,’ that was so concerned about President Trump’s documents locked in behind, and now we find that this is a vice president keeping it for years out in the open for different locations,” McCarthy said.
The White House confirmed Monday that a number of classified documents from Biden’s years as vice president had been discovered in a box in a storage closet connected to a Washington office that Biden used prior to his presidential campaign. The documents were immediately turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration, the White House said.
On Thursday, the White House acknowledged that a second batch of classified documents discovered by aides was recovered from the garage of his home in Wilmington, Delaware. The new set of documents, described as small, were returned to the National Archives and the Justice Department was alerted, said Richard Sauber, a special counsel to the president.
President Joe Biden classified documents: What we know and how discovery compares to Trump
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, set things in motion for an investigation even before the White House disclosed the second batch of records had been found.
Comer sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday putting the administration on notice that his panel would be investigating what he called Biden’s “failure to return vice-presidential records – including highly classified documents.”
“The committee is concerned that President Biden has compromised sources and methods with his own mishandling of classified documents,” Comer wrote.
Another Republican-led committee is also demanding answers.
Rep. Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, sent letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, requesting a classified briefing on Jan. 23 on the discovery of the records at the two Biden locations.
The presence of classified information at the two locations “could implicate the president in the mishandling, potential misuse and exposure of classified information,” Turner wrote.
Turner also questioned why Biden, as vice president, maintained custody of highly classified documents, who had access to them and for what purposes. “The question of further dissemination of these documents … must be fully examined,” he wrote.
In the Senate, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin demanded answers from Biden’s attorney, Richard Sauber, about the president’s compliance with federal records storage and archival requirements.
The GOP senators sent a letter to Sauber on Wednesday asking which documents were marked classified, why the office space was being vacated and a list of other locations where Biden may have stored records as vice president.
“In light of the recent news regarding the inappropriate storage of classified documents, the White House must immediately provide transparency relating to then-Vice President Biden’s archiving of records,” the senators said.
Classified documents:Attorney General Merrick Garland taps special counsel to probe Biden classified documents
Justice Department’s awkward position
Questions over how Biden handled classified documents complicate matters for the Justice Department and for Garland, who must decide whether to file criminal charges against Trump for keeping classified records at his private resort.
The two cases are different.
Trump kept more than 11,000 documents at Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House and resisted returning them despite repeated requests from the National Archives under the Presidential Records Act. The FBI seized the records during a search of the estate last August for evidence of violations of the Espionage Act or obstruction of justice. About 100 of the documents seized were classified.
The exact number of classified documents discovered in Biden’s private office and garage has not been made public, but Biden’s attorneys have described the number as small. The records were turned over to the archives immediately after they were discovered, the White House says.
On Thursday, Garland appointed a special counsel,Robert Hur, to further review the handling of classified documents found at Biden’s former office space and at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. Hur is a former U.S. attorney in Maryland and served as a principal associate deputy attorney general during the Trump administration.
Garland’s decision followed Republican lawmakers’ demands that he names a special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of the records, just as he appointed a special counsel in November to oversee pending criminal investigations related to Trump.
Appearing on Fox News ahead of Garland’s announcement, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., urged the attorney general to name a special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of the documents with the same tenacity that Garland sought to investigate Trump.
Many Americans are “disgusted with the standard that exists in America when it comes to conservatives and everybody else,” Graham said.
The final decision on whether to file criminal charges against Trump rests with Garland. The revelations about Biden’s handling of classified documents puts the attorney general in the awkward position of possibly pressing charges against Trump while, at the same time, his boss’s own actions are in question.
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