Joe Biden's Got a Brand New Special Counsel
2023 is off to a fun start
Well, didn’t you hear the president? He keeps his garage locked, people, not like some irresponsible person. C’mon!
Not good, Mr. President. Semafor reports on the timeline and the new DOJ special counsel appointee, Robert Hur:
The White House acknowledged on January 9 that classified documents had been found, not long after a CBS News report revealed their existence. But the materials were discovered across three batches; the most recent one just yesterday.
November 2, 2022: The first classified documents are found by President Biden’s attorneys at the Penn Biden Center and immediately reported and turned over to the National Archives and DOJ.
December 20, 2022: Biden’s attorneys report that a subsequent search of the president’s residences uncovered “a small number” of classified documents in Biden’s garage at his Wilmington home, where he keeps his Corvette.
"By the way, my Corvette's in a locked garage, OK? So it's not like they're sitting out on the street," Biden said in response to a question about his storage practices at a press conference Thursday.
January 12, 2023: Biden’s lawyers tell DOJ they had found one more document with classification markings in the president’s home the morning before Garland’s announcement.
Rod Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, described Hur as his “point person” to keep contact with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“That experience obviously would be very relevant for him,” Rosenstein told Semafor in an interview. “And also I think he gained an appreciation in that job of how important it is to tune out all the partisan noise and focus on what matters.”
Rosenstein described Hur as talented, smart, and hardworking, and said he “understands the non-partisan principles of the Department of Justice.”
Both sides of the aisle still found things to question as his resume was thrust under the microscope, however. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes shared a Politico story about Hur’s appearance at a Trump White House press conference in 2017 about which critics raised ethics concerns. Meanwhile, some on the right questioned his credentials as someone with ties to the Mueller probe. Hur also once worked closely with FBI Director Chris Wray, who himself has been a target of conservative animus despite originally being a Trump appointee.
Hur takes over for the U.S. attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, who Garland had tapped to conduct the initial investigation into the documents and who recommended a special counsel be tapped to continue the probe.
Biden had some/several/a bunch of classified documents while Trump had hundreds so that’s different. Yes, on Sesame Street four is bigger than three, but with classified documents it is not a meaningful difference. The law is clear: each document is a violation, and there are no discounts for having under a certain number. One classified document is enough to seek an indictment. But let’s not forget about Hillary Clinton, who was allowed not only to carry over 33,000 subpoenaed documents in the form of emails out of secure spaces on her server, but to delete them. Imagine if Biden reported that he and his team had simply deleted whatever they had found, never mind whether Trump had had a bonfire.
Biden’s documents were safe inside a locked closet. Classification law is extremely clear as to how documents must be stored, specifying, for example, how many minutes a safe is expected to withstand an attempt to cut it open. In the case of the Secure Compartmentalized Information (SCI) level of docs that Biden, Trump, and Hillary held, details are written into law and regulation as to what type of room, with what type of door, they are to be stored in. “Closet” does not fit the definition, whether it is at Biden’s place, Mar-a-Lago or Hillary’s home.
Nobody saw the documents. Maybe it wasn’t to standard, but they were kept under lock and key. No blood, no foul. Really? The reason all those laws and regulations regarding classified material exist is to safeguard them absolutely, so arguing whether the cleaning crew would have had access to them does not cover it. Marines guard these documents 24/7 in the equivalent of a bank vault deep inside the White House. With Hillary, an unclassified, insecure, out-of-the-box email server connected to the internet meant any hacker with moderate skills, including those assigned to attack her official trips to China and Russia, presumably had full access.
Biden’s documents were just old briefing notes, nothing so important. If the documents were labeled Top Secret or SCI when they were created, then that was their classification, no matter what we think of the contents today. The law is clear that arguing the level of classification after getting caught is not a viable defense strategy, and retroactive declassification is not an option. “The documents were not important even though they were classified” is not any better.
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