Under Pressure: AG Garland  under Growing Pressure to Appoint Special Counsel after Second Batch of Classified Biden Documents Found

Republican conservatives and lawmakers repeated calls on Wednesday for Attorney General Merrick Garland to designate a special counsel to investigate how President Joe Biden handled classified documents after a second bunch of documents from Biden’s time serving as vice president was discovered.

Biden aides found at least one more batch of classified documents in the now-president’s possession. The discovery comes only days after the White House revealed that the president’s attorneys handed over a cache of classified documents — including some designated as top-secret — found at Biden’s Washington D.C.-based Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement to the National Archives.

Aides to the president have been searching for additional locations where he may have brought other classified documents from his time serving as President Barrack Obama’s administration. 

“Attorney General Merrick Garland must appoint a special counsel,” tweeted Republican Representative Troy Nehls of Texas in response to the Wednesday report.

The House Judiciary Committee GOP tweeted that it was looking forward to Democrat lawmakers calling for a special counsel to be appointed. Jordan serves as the panel’s chairman.

“If you believe a special counsel is necessary to assure the public about the handling of classified documents by Donald Trump, you should apply a special counsel to the mishandling of classified documents by President Biden when he was vice president,” said GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “That’s what I think.”

The news that classified documents were located in Biden’s possession months after a similar situation related to former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents. After a months-long dispute between the Department of Justice and Trump, FBI agents executed a search warrant by raking the former president’s  Mar-a-Lago home to compile any classified documents he possessed.

In November, Garland appointed career prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to lead the investigation on whether the former president violated federal law when he retained classified documents after leaving the White House in January 2021.

Increased calls for a special counsel

In response to the report Wednesday, GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted, “Special counsel.”

Before reports that Biden’s aides found another batch of documents, Hawley wrote a letter to AG Garland insisting the Department of Justice appoint a special counsel to look into the case. The senator from Missouri pointed out that the president appeared to have done “exactly what President Trump did,” except his house wasn’t raided.

“The double standard here is astounding. The underlying behavior at issue — a President’s retention of old classified documents dating back to a past presidency — is materially the same in both cases,” wrote Hawley. “But in President Trump’s case, that retention triggered an unprecedented raid on the home of a former president, rationalized with a thicket of partisan doublespeak.”

“President Trump has not experienced anything remotely similar. To make matters worse, it’s taken until January of 2023 for this news to the surface, even though the documents were found on November 2, 2022 — just days prior to the hotly contested midterm election. Clearly, the Biden Administration and its allies in the media did their best to bury the story,” said Hawley.

Like Hawley, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, John Fishwick Jr., who former President Obama appointed, told The New York Times earlier this week that the attorney general should appoint a special counsel to ensure transparency in the case by investigating Biden. 

Fishwick Jr. emphasized that Garland had waited too long to tell the public of the investigation into the president. 

“When’s the raid?? They’ve had months to track this stuff down,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr. “Where is the special counsel? Where’s the wall-to-wall media coverage asking why Biden and Garland have not already been forced to recuse themselves???”

On Monday, Richard Sauber, White House counsel, said the president’s attorneys cooperated with the Justice Department and the Archives in returning the documents found. At the same time, Biden remarked Tuesday evening that he was “surprised” to learn of the classified documents stored at the Penn Biden Center.

“They did what they should have done,” said Biden to reporters. “They immediately called the [National Archives] … turned them over to the Archives, and I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.”

Biden added, “But I don’t know what’s in the documents. My lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were.”