Top Democrats Back Appointment of Special Counsel to Probe Records Found at Biden’s Home

Top Democrats Back Appointment of Special Counsel to Probe Records Found at Biden’s Home
Top Democrats are expressing support for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate classified materials found at President Joe Biden’s home and former office.

“Yes, I do,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Jan. 13 when asked if he supported the appointment of special counsel Robert Hur, made a day earlier by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Schumer noted that he also supports special counsel Jack Smith. Hur is probing the records recently found while Smith is investigating records held by former President Donald Trump.

“We now have special prosecutors for both of these situations—very serious people. We should let it play out. We don’t have to push them in any direction, or influence them. Let the special prosecutors do their job,” Schumer said. He was speaking on CNN.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also said he supports the move by Garland, calling Hur “a distinguished prosecutor” who was approved by the Senate during the Trump administration to a U.S. attorney position that he left in 2021.

Durbin said that Garland’s appointment of Hur “assures the American people that this investigation will be done fairly and with integrity.”

Many other Democrats, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), have not commented on the appointment.

Jeffries, whose office did not respond to a request for comment, had said that he had “full faith” in Biden.

“I believe that he’s doing everything to take the appropriate steps to determine what happened and how to move forward in a responsible fashion,” Jeffries said during a briefing in Washington before the appointment was made.

Garland appointed Hur on Thursday after classified records were found at one of Biden’s residences as well as the Penn Biden Center in Washington, where Biden worked from after the Obama-Biden administration left office.

Hur will “investigate whether any person or entity violated the law in connection with this matter,” Garland said in prepared remarks from the Department of Justice headquarters.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, asked Thursday whether the White House backs the appointment, declined to say.

“I’m not going to get into the decisions that were made by the Attorney General,” Jean-Pierre said. “I will say this, and you’ve heard me say this many times before: This is a president that believes in the independence of the Justice Department. This is something that he has been saying since the campaign, and you’ve heard me say this over and over, and restoring that independence.”

Republicans have had mixed reactions to the appointment. Some say it was warranted but are concerned about how the Department of Justice (DOJ) will handle the case.

“Following years of politicization by Democrats who have weaponized the Justice Department and given what we now know about the handling of matters pertaining to the Bidens, I have deep concerns about this DOJ legitimately investigating this case without bias,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a statement.

Others pointed to Hur’s past as an assistant to FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee who has been heavily criticized by the GOP since taking the position, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Trump and his campaign.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) was among the members backing both the appointment and Hur.

“I’m glad the Attorney General appointed a special counsel,” he said in a statement.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in Washington on Jan. 12, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Attorney General Merrick Garland names an independent special counsel to probe President Joe Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified documents at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington on Jan. 12, 2023. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Waited to Let Public Know

White House officials have repeatedly defended not being fully transparent, including not disclosing the finding of the records for nearly two months.

The initial tranche was discovered in early November 2022, before the midterm elections, according to the White House.

Those papers were inside the Penn Biden Center.

Other files were found inside a garage and an adjacent area at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, according to White House lawyer Richard Sauber.

Biden told reporters in Washington that files were found in “storage areas and file cabinets in my home and my personal library” before defending how some were inside the garage after a reporter asked, “classified material next to your Corvette—what were you thinking?”

“I’m going to get a chance to speak on all this, God willing, soon, but … my Corvette is in a locked garage. Okay?” Biden said. “So, it’s not like they’re sitting out in the street.”

Jean-Pierre later Thursday refused to say whether Biden would be willing to be interviewed by investigators.

White House officials say they’re confident an investigation will show the documents were “inadvertently misplaced.”

By Zachary Stieber