An investigation of how Vice President Joe Biden handled secret materials will be conducted by a special counsel appointed by US Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Robert Hur, who served as a top official in the Justice Department under the Trump administration, will lead the probe. (Also Read: Sergei Surovikin removed as commander of Ukraine invasion force)
Recently, classified documents were discovered at Mr Biden’s house and in an office he utilized after he left his position as vice president.
According to the White House, Mr Biden intends to provide full cooperation to the investigation.
The records were found at the same time that an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of confidential data is still ongoing; the discovery of the materials has been labelled a political embarrassment for Vice President Joe Biden.
The first group of files was discovered on November 2 at the Penn Biden Center, a think tank in Washington, DC; Mr Biden established that. After that, according to Mr Biden, they were given to the National Archives of the United States.
Mr Garland stated that a second group of files was discovered on December 20 at the residence of Mr Biden in Wilmington, Delaware. In addition, he stated that Mr Biden’s legal representatives had contacted the authorities on Thursday morning to inform them of another document that had also been discovered at the president’s private house.
Mr Garland stated that his office concluded that a special counsel was required to investigate Mr Biden’s handling of the files owing to the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding the incident after US Attorney John Lausch conducted an initial investigation.
Mr Garland stated that “this appointment highlights for the public the department’s commitment to both independence and responsibility in particularly sensitive areas” and that “the agency is committed to making decisions undisputedly informed only by the facts and the law.”
Mr Hur stated that he would look into the matter “with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment.”
Richard Sauber, a lawyer for the White House, stated that Joe Biden has completely cooperated with the investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice and will continue to do so with the special counsel conducting the investigation.
“We are confident that a full review will show that these documents were mistakenly misplaced, and the President and his counsel moved immediately upon discovering this mistake,” he said. “We are certain that a thorough review will show that these records were inadvertently misplaced.”
According to sources acquainted with the matter and who spoke with CBS, a partner of the BBC in the United States, the review conducted by the justice department includes interviews with various witnesses who may have knowledge regarding how the secret papers were handled.
Mr Biden disclosed this information to the press on Thursday morning. He claimed that when the first batch of papers was discovered in November, his legal team quickly contacted the appropriate authorities.
Mr Biden also stated that the additional documents discovered were “not sitting out in the street” but rather were secured in a garage next to his 1960s Chevrolet Corvette sports car.
“People know I take classified material seriously,” he stated. “I take it very seriously.”
After the initial files were discovered, Mr Biden stated that his legal team investigated different locations between 2009 and 2017 where documents related to his term as vice president were housed. They reported that the investigation was finished on Wednesday evening.
He stated that the attorneys had made arrangements for the Department of Justice to acquire ownership of the materials.
According to a statement released by Mr Sauber, the supplementary search “discovered among personal and political materials a small number of new Obama-Biden Administration records with classified markings.”
According to Mr Biden, all of the documents, except one, were discovered in a storage room inside his garage in Wilmington, Delaware.
“Among the items stashed in the neighbouring room was where a single sheet of a document was found,” Mr Sauber continued. A search was also conducted at Mr Biden’s house in Rehoboth Beach, but the attorneys uncovered no new files.
Mr Biden’s lawyers discovered the first group of documents as they were moving out of the room at the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania. The lawyers had been storing the documents in a closet at the centre. According to reports, they contained intel about Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom.
There are now concerns being asked of Mr Biden regarding whether or whether the recently discovered papers contain sensitive material that may have put matters of US national security in jeopardy.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives in the United States, expressed his reservations regarding the timing of the announcement of the revelation.
Mr McCarthy added, “They knew this had happened to President Biden before the (US midterm) election, but they kept a secret from the American public.” “They kept a secret from the American public,”
After more than 325 classified files, some of which were stamped with Secret and Top Secret classifications, were discovered over the past year at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, the Justice Department has opened an inquiry into Mr Trump’s activities.
Investigators have stated that they are looking into whether or not Mr Trump violated federal law by interfering with the process of document recovery or deleting government materials. The former president has asserted that he is innocent of any wrongdoing. (Also Read: The Discovery of a Second batch of Confidential Biden Documents)