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During a press conference on Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Hur as special counsel to investigate the classified documents found in two locations in the possession of Joe Biden after he was vice president.
Documents had been found at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 2, 2022, days before the 2022 mid-term election. The FBI began an assessment of potential mishandling of the classified documents several days later. Garland revealed that documents later were found in Biden’s garage at his Wilmington, Delaware home on Dec. 20. .
Garland said on Nov. 14, 2022 he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Lausch, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago and a Trump nominee, to conduct the initial investigation into the classified documents and to inform Garland whether a special counsel needed to be appointed.
The office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. was "not authorized for storage of classified documents," Garland said on Thursday. "The prosecutor had also been advised that those documents had been secured in an archives facility."
Lausch told Garland on Jan. 6 that a special counsel needed to be appointed to probe the matter further, Garland said.
Garland appointed Robert Hur, whom Trump chose to be the U.S. attorney for Maryland, as the Special Counsel to investigate the Biden documents.
"I will ensure that Mr. Hur receives all the resources he needs to conduct his work," Garland said.
"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 noted. "I am confident that Mr. Hur will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner, and in accordance with the highest traditions of this department."
The Garland press conference came hours after the White House confirmed that the second set of classified documents were discovered in Delaware.
Earlier this week, officials confirmed that classified records were found on Nov. 2 in Biden's office at the Penn Biden Center.
President Biden has stated that he does not know how the classified documents arrived at the Biden Penn Center.
The Biden Penn Center was established in 2018. Dr. Michael Carpenter was the Managing Director of the Penn Biden Center. The Center’s stated focus is on international diplomacy. In 2018, Biden and Carpenter co-authored a policy article on Putin and Russia for Foreign Affairs.
“To fight back, the United States must lead its democratic allies and partners in increasing their resilience, expanding their capabilities to defend against Russian subversion, and rooting out the Kremlin’s networks of malign influence,” wrote Biden and Carpenter. “The United States has the capacity to counter this assault and emerge stronger, provided that Washington demonstrates the political will to confront the threat. However, since the Trump administration has shown that it does not take the Russian threat seriously, the responsibility for protecting Western democracy will rest more than ever on Congress, the private sector, civil society, and ordinary Americans.
President Biden appointed Carpenter as Ambassador to the OSCE in Vienna, Austria. According to his current bio, Carpenter “served in the Pentagon as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, and Conventional Arms Control. Previously, he worked in the White House as a foreign policy advisor to then-Vice President Biden and as Director for Russia at the National Security Council. Prior to his White House jobs, Carpenter was a career Foreign Service Officer with the State Department, where his roles included Deputy Director of the Office of Russian Affairs, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Political-Military Officer, and Advisor on Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts”
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who served on Biden’s Covid Task Force, is on the Penn Global Leaderships team. His brother, Ari, former Mayor of Chicago, was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Biden.
There is a difference between the two special prosecutors investigating the Biden classified documents and Trump classified documents.
Special Counsel Hur is to look at document handling after Joe Biden left the vice presidency in 2017, and Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed to investigate Trump’s documents is to investigate what happened when Donald Trump left the White House in early 2021.
During the press conference Garland used language that clearly indicates that Biden’s special counsel investigation is not currently as expansive as Trump’s.
Hur’s appointment order said he will look into "possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records" at Biden's private office in Washington, DC, and his Delaware residence.
Alternatively, Special Counsel Smith’s investigation into Trump is broader and more evolved with grand jury proceedings already underway.
Garland's appointment order for Smith pointed to three possible crimes — the mishandling of information pertaining to the national defense, mishandling of federal records and obstruction of justice.
During the Trump administration, Hur was an Associate Deputy Attorney General and worked as a top aide to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from 2017 - 2018.
From 2018 2021, he served as the US Attorney for the District of Maryland and focused on violent crimes, fraud, and cybercrime. Hur has extensive background in handling classified documents because the Maryland AG”s office has jurisdiction over cases for the federal agencies located in Maryland, like the National Security Agency.
Hur was so close to Rosenstein, Hur delivered remarks during Rosenstein's farewell ceremony on May 9, 2019.
Before that, Hur had served as top aid to current FBI Director Christopher Wray when Wray was leading the Department of Justice’s criminal division.
According to Kash Patel, Hurr and Wray blocked the release of the 'Nunes memo' which showed the Russiagate story was a hoax. This in itself would disqualify Hur from this position.
After leaving the government in 2021, Hur became a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm in their Washington, D.C. office.
“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment. 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," Hur said in a statement Thursday.
It will be up to the new GOP House to provide funding or not for this venture. The House may demand a new prosecutor be named for conflict of interest.
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