Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate President Joe Biden’s possession of classified documents from his years as vice president.
Garland named Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney for Maryland appointed by President Donald Trump, as special counsel. Hur currently is a partner in the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
White House counsel Richard Sauber first issued a statement Thursday regarding the discovery of another batch of classified documents in Biden’s possession:
Following the discovery of government documents at the Penn Biden Center in November 2022, and coordinating closely with the Department of Justice, the President’s lawyers have searched the President’s Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, residences—the other locations where files from his Vice-Presidential office might have been shipped in the course of the 2017 transition. The lawyers completed that review last night. During the review, the lawyers discovered among personal and political papers a small number of additional Obama-Biden administration records with classified markings.
Later Thursday, Biden took questions from reporters about the controversy, largely repeating what his lawyer had said.
The president first noted that the garage at his Wilmington residence, where some of the classified documents were stored, is kept locked, saying, “That’s where I keep my Corvette.”
“As I said earlier this week, people know that I take classified documents and classified material seriously,” Biden told reporters. “I also said we are cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department’s review. As part of that process, my lawyers reviewed other places other documents from my time as vice president were stored, and they finished the review last night. They discovered a small number of documents with classified markings in storage areas and file cabinets in my home and in my personal library.”
Garland initially named John Lausch, a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, to review the matter. Some of the classified documents reportedly pertained to Iran, Ukraine and Britain.
“On Jan. 5, 2023, Mr. Lausch briefed me on his initial investigation and advised me that further investigation by a special counsel was warranted,” Garland told reporters, reading from a formal statement. “Based on Mr. Lausch’s initial investigation, I concluded that under the special counsel regulation, it was in the public interest to appoint a special counsel.”
Hur was an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. He returned to the Justice Department during the Trump administration as the principal associate deputy attorney general. In 2018, Trump nominated Hur and the Senate confirmed him as U.S. attorney for Maryland.
“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment,” Hur said in a public statement. “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.”
The matter prompted comparisons to an ongoing Justice Department investigation into classified information that former President Trump kept at his private residence in Mar-a-Lago. After the FBI raided that Florida estate Aug. 8 and seized documents, Garland named a special counsel, Jack Smith, to investigate the matter.
In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sept. 18, Biden showed no patience with the allegations against Trump, who held federal office for four years compared to Biden, who served for 36 years as senator and eight as vice president.
“How that could possibly happen, how one anyone could be that irresponsible?,” Biden told correspondent Scott Pelley, who had asked what the president thought when he saw an FBI photo of classified documents stored at Trump’s Florida residence. “And I thought what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods.”
“And it’s just totally irresponsible,” Biden said again in the interview.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Thursday that “Congress has to investigate,” and noted that discovery of the first batch of documents Nov. 2 in Biden’s former personal office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington was shielded from the public until after the midterm elections Nov. 8.
“We are finding out now, after being sworn in, that this was discovered before the election–another faux pas by the Biden administration of treating the law differently based upon your political beliefs, treats President Trump one way and treats President Biden another way,” McCarthy, sworn in Saturday as House speaker, said during a press conference at the Capitol. “That’s why we had to provide a new entity from our Church-style [committee] to look into the weaponization of what is going on, if you want an equal [application] of the law to all Americans.”
McCarthy was referencing the late Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, who led a post-Watergate investigation into abuses by the FBI and the intelligence community in the 1970s.
A reporter asked the House speaker whether the Biden documents would be investigated by the newly created House select subcommittee investigating “weaponization” of government agencies.
“It could go through that committee or others, but I think Congress has to investigate this,” McCarthy responded.
5 Things to Know About The Little-Known Special Counsel Investigating Biden
BREAKING: FBI Director Christopher Wray's chief of staff Jonathan Lenzner was newly appointed Special Counsel ROBERT HUR's deputy in Maryland. Lenzner's father was Bill and Hillary Clinton's private eye fixer. Lenzner is married to WaPo national editor Matea Gold, both Democrats— Paul Sperry (@paulsperry_) January 14, 2023
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a veteran federal prosecutor to investigate whether any laws were broken when President Joe Biden held on to classified documents from his eight years as vice president.
Robert K. Hur, the new special counsel, isn’t as widely known as past special prosecutors appointed to investigate presidents, among them former FBI Director Robert Mueller or former Solicitor General Ken Starr, appointed to investigate allegations against Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, respectively.
“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment ,” Hur said in a public statement. “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 is likely to have a higher profile in the coming weeks and months. Here are five things to know about him.
1. Clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist
Hur began his legal career as a Supreme Court clerk for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who first was appointed to the high court by President Richard Nixon and named chief justice by President Ronald Reagan. Both presidents were Republicans.
Hur also clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Reagan appointed Kozinski to the 9th Circuit.
2. Replaced Rod Rosenstein
On Nov. 2, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Hur to be U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland.
Interestingly, Trump named Hur to replace U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein, whom the president had appointed as deputy attorney general. It was Rosenstein who later appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate Trump over allegations of “collusion” with the Russian government.
The Senate unanimously confirmed Hur to the U.S. attorney post in March 2018 after Maryland’s two Democrat senators endorsed his nomination by Trump.
“Marylanders have been anxiously awaiting confirmation of our next U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland. I am pleased that the Senate has unanimously confirmed Robert Hur for this lynchpin law enforcement position, as we need our U.S. attorney on the job now, working as a strong partner with state and local officials to keep our communities safe and secure,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland’s senior U.S. senator. “I look forward to working with Mr. Hur and am confident that he will focus on protecting Marylanders across our state by reducing violent crime, breaking up gangs, fighting the drug epidemic, enforcing civil rights, and rooting out corruption.”
The state’s junior senator, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, concurred with Cardin.
“Robert Hur’s confirmation is critical to our state and I thank my colleagues for unanimously approving his nomination to be Maryland’s next U.S. attorney,” Van Hollen said. “Working together with local, state, and federal partners, I’m confident we can move forward on the pressing issues facing our state—from improving public safety, to fighting the opioid epidemic, to protecting the rights of all Marylanders. I look forward to working with him.”
In the position of U.S. attorney, Hur was Maryland’s chief federal prosecutor and supervised 88 assistant U.S. attorneys and 72 support personnel. Those prosecutors handle cases that include domestic and international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, organized crime, gang violence, public corruption, cybercrime, financial and health care fraud, and civil rights violations. He remained in the job until 2021, when Biden became president.
3. Prosecuted Public Corruption
As U.S. attorney, Hur’s office prosecuted several key public corruption cases in Maryland, where he gained high-profile guilty pleas from public officials.
Hur’s office prosecuted former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat, who was convicted of wire fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and two counts of tax evasion.
“Baltimore City faces many pressing issues, and we need our leaders to place the interests of the citizens above their own,” Hur said at the time of Pugh’s conviction, adding:
Catherine Pugh betrayed the public trust for her personal gain and now faces three years in federal prison, where there is no parole—ever. Law enforcement will remain vigilant to ensure that our citizens receive the honesty and professionalism they deserve from government officials and will prosecute officials who betray the public’s trust.
Hur’s office also oversaw the bribery prosecution and conviction of Maryland state Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Democrat, related to medical marijuana, opioid therapy clinics, and liquor licenses. Glenn solicited and accepted $33,000 in bribes, the Justice Department said.
“Cheryl Glenn solicited and accepted more than $33,000 in bribes in exchange for official actions instead of doing her duty and putting the interests of the public above her own,” Hur said after the July 2020 conviction. The U.S. attorney added:
We expect our elected officials to serve the public, not to use their positions of authority to line their own pockets. As this case demonstrates, we will work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who betray the public trust. Cheryl Glenn will now pay the price for her greed by serving time in federal prison.
Hur’s office secured a conviction of former Maryland state Del. Tawanna Gaines, a Democrat, in October 2019 on charges that she illegally used campaign funds for personal profit.
Hur oversaw a case leading to the July 2018 conviction of former Maryland state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks, a Democrat, on wire fraud charges.
“Our democratic system relies on the integrity of our elected officials,” Hur said at the time. “Today’s sentence and our prosecution of former Maryland Sen. Nathaniel Oaks demonstrate that we will hold accountable those elected officials who use their offices to enrich themselves, rather than serve the interests of their constituents.”
Hur also oversaw cases against members of the Baltimore City Police Department in connection with a Gun Trace Task Force investigation and against corrections officers at numerous state prisons, including Eastern Correctional Institution, Jessup Correctional Institution, and Chesapeake Detention Facility.
4. Early Justice Department Career
During President George W. Bush’s administration, Hur went to work in a career position at the Justice Department as special assistant and later counsel to Christopher Wray, then the assistant attorney general in charge of the Criminal Division and now director of the FBI. There, Hur handled counterterrorism, corporate fraud, and appellate matters.
In 2007, Hur became an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland, a position he held until 2014, over four years into the Obama administration.
As a career federal prosecutor in Maryland, Hur prosecuted gang violence, firearms offenses, and narcotics trafficking as well as white-collar offenses such as financial institutions fraud, public corruption, mortgage fraud, tax offenses, computer network intrusions, and intellectual property theft, according to the Justice Department.
5. After the Justice Department
After leaving the Justice Department in early 2021, Hur became a member of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents.
Hur went to work full time as a partner in the Washington office of the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which has offices across the United States. He is co-chairman of the firm’s crisis management practice group.
At the law firm, Hur has been involved in white-collar criminal matters, regulatory proceedings and enforcement actions, internal investigations, and related civil litigation. He is a member of the firm’s white-collar defense and investigations practice group and its national security practice group.
By Fred Lucas, chief news correspondent and manager of the Investigative Reporting Project for The Daily Signal. Reproduced with permission. Original here.