Garland Defends Biden Classified Document Case Handling

( – Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert Hur as special counsel for the Justice Department in January 2023 to lead the inquiry into Joe Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Several Biden lawyers complained for weeks about the release of Hur’s findings, sparking some tension between the White House and DOJ officials. Garland recently defended the investigation and release of the special counsel’s 388-page final report.

On March 21, Garland responded to the Biden attorneys’ criticism during an interesting exchange toward the end of a press conference. He reminded attendees that the president told him “directly” and the American people that he intended to restore the DOJ’s “independence” and “integrity” when he announced Garland’s nomination. The attorney general also noted that Biden said he wanted the incoming attorney general to work for the “American people and not for the president.”

The friction between Biden lawyers and Garland began on October 31 when Special Counsel to the President Richard Sauber sent a letter to Hur asking for “the opportunity to review and comment” on a draft of his final report. The letter also discussed Sauber’s take on the Special Counsel regulations governing the contents and production of the document.

Then, on February 7, assistant to the president and White House Counsel Edward Siskel and Bob Bauer, Biden’s personal counsel, sent a letter to Garland objecting to “certain aspects” of Hur’s draft report.

The letter claimed Hur violated DOJ policy and practice by including “multiple denigrating statements” about the president’s mental faculties, namely his “failing memory.” The letter also claimed that the Hur report’s remarks on Biden’s declining “recollection” were “uncalled for and unfounded.”

On February 12, Sauber and Bauer sent a letter to Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer, the DOJ’s top career official, complaining that Hur’s draft report “violated” department “policy and practice” by including “extraneous and prejudicial commentary.”

None of the letters asked Garland to block the release of Hur’s report or alter it in any way. However, they included threatening language that could lead a reasonable person to conclude that was the aim of those documents, as evidenced by Garland’s concluding remarks to reporters.

Garland said the idea that a sitting attorney general would “edit… redact, or censor” a special counsel’s mandated written explanation of their decision to prosecute or declination was “absurd.”

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