Justice Department Considered but Rejected Role in Biden Documents Search

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  vic-eldred  •  2 weeks ago  •  33 comments

By:   Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman and C. Ryan Barber (WSJ)

Justice Department Considered but Rejected Role in Biden Documents Search
Officials opted for hands-off approach to leave special counsel's probe uncompromised

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



WASHINGTON—The Justice Department considered having FBI agents monitor a search by President Biden's lawyers for classified documents at his homes but decided against it, both to avoid complicating later stages of the investigation and because Mr. Biden's attorneys had quickly turned over a first batch and were cooperating, according to people familiar with the matter.

After Mr. Biden's lawyers discovered documents marked as classified dating from his term as vice president at an office he used at a Washington-based think tank on Nov. 2, the Justice Department opened an inquiry into why and how they got there. Mr. Biden's legal team prepared to search his other properties for any similar documents, and discussed with the Justice Department the prospect of having FBI agents present while Mr. Biden's lawyers conducted the additional searches.

Instead, the two sides agreed that Mr. Biden’s personal attorneys  would inspect the homes , notify the Justice Department as soon as they identified any other potentially classified records, and arrange for law-enforcement authorities to take them. 

Those deliberations, which haven’t previously been reported, shed new light on how the Biden team’s efforts to cooperate with investigators have thus far helped it avoid more aggressive actions by law enforcement.

In the week since news reports first surfaced about the documents, the incident has drawn parallels to the discovery of a much larger number of documents at former President  Donald Trump ’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, which federal agents  obtained a warrant to search in August  after more than a year of negotiations between Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the National Archives and the Justice Department and after Mr. Trump’s lawyers said all documents had been returned. 

Mr. Trump’s supporters have accused the Justice Department of a double standard in treatment; Mr. Biden’s supporters have pointed to the president’s legal team’s cooperation and swift moves to inform the Justice Department of the documents’ discovery as a key difference. Mr. Biden has said he doesn’t know what the documents are or how they wound up at his office at the Penn Biden Center or his Delaware home. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was director of the Washington think tank from 2017 to 2019, told reporters on Tuesday that he was unaware that government documents had been stored there. 

The discussions and the Justice Department’s willingness to let the Biden lawyers do the searches unsupervised also suggest federal investigators are girding for a monthslong inquiry that could stretch well into Mr. Biden’s third year in office. 

One reason not to involve the FBI at an early stage: That way the Justice Department would preserve the ability to take a tougher line, including executing a future search warrant, if negotiations ever turned hostile, current and former law-enforcement officials said.

Representatives of the FBI and Justice Department declined to comment. In a call to reporters about the investigation, White House spokesman Ian Sams said the president and his team were cooperating fully with the special counsel review “so that it can proceed swiftly and thoroughly.”

The White House revealed on two separate days last week that  documents had been located  at the president’s Delaware residence, as well as those found at a garage there in December. Part of the reason the new documents were revealed separately is that Mr. Biden’s personal attorneys don’t have security clearances to handle classified documents and had to set aside any material that could qualify as such. Richard Sauber, special counsel to Mr. Biden, who has that clearance, accompanied Justice Department personnel to retrieve documents, when they discovered additional pages with classification markings. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland last week assigned a former top prosecutor in the Trump administration, Robert Hur,  to serve as special counsel  investigating the discovery of the documents in the locales associated with Mr. Biden. Justice Department officials were concerned that an FBI presence as the Biden team hunted for documents could complicate investigators’ ability to execute search warrants or subpoena documents as the investigation proceeds, some of the people said, in a sign that investigators are considering the possibility of a grand jury investigation into the matter.

Mr. Hur is expected to begin his job as special counsel by the end of the month, after he winds down his work as a defense lawyer at the law firm Gibson Dunn, people familiar with his appointment said.  

Soon after the initial discovery in November, Mr. Garland tasked the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, with reviewing the documents, with an eye toward determining whether a special counsel should be appointed. 

Mr. Lausch told Mr. Garland on Jan. 5 that he thought a special counsel was warranted given the many unanswered questions about the documents, and Mr. Garland quickly agreed, the people said.

Mr. Hur is expected to grapple with legally and politically thorny considerations that could be reminiscent of those from the last special counsel related to a sitting president, potentially including whether to pursue in-person testimony from Mr. Biden. During the 2017-19 special counsel inquiry led by Robert Mueller into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign and any links between that effort and the Trump campaign, investigators tried for more than a year to interview then-President Trump before ultimately settling for written testimony.

Mr. Sams declined to say whether Mr. Biden would sit for an interview with the special counsel if asked. 

Legal experts said an open-book strategy could help shorten Mr. Hur’s inquiry and keep it from dragging out over Mr. Biden’s presidency.

“My goal would be to get everybody interviewed by Robert Hur as quickly as possible—not throw up roadblocks, not assert privileges, and get this thing over with,” said Neil Eggleston, who served as White House counsel in the Obama administration.

The Justice Department investigation into the Biden documents comes as  another special counsel  is already deep into a parallel inquiry into the classified documents at Mr. Trump’s Florida home. 

The FBI in August executed a search warrant at the property, believing more such documents remained there based on witness interviews and security-camera footage. They removed dozens of boxes containing additional documents, many of which were mixed in with clothing and news clippings. Prosecutors later disclosed they were investigating  whether anyone sought to obstruct their inquiry , in addition to whether anyone should be prosecuted for mishandling the documents. Mr. Trump has called the Justice Department’s moves a witch hunt and said he did nothing wrong. 

The Justice Department has sought to keep the two inquiries separate by assigning them to different teams, according to people familiar with the matter. The Biden White House has highlighted differences between the two inquiries, stressing in particular how their cooperative stance compares to the Trump team’s resistance to turn over records to the National Archives after repeated requests. Mr. Trump’s legal team later  clashed  with the Justice Department over the appointment of an outside arbiter, known as a special master, to review documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

Yet the Biden team’s bumpy rollout of its discoveries—it only confirmed the document discoveries after news reports and has offered few new details—complicates its attempt to draw a hard distinction between Mr. Biden’s actions and those of Mr. Trump, said John Fishwick, who served as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia during the Obama administration.  

“He is the sitting president, there’s no reason for him to hold back anything about this,” Mr. Fishwick said. “It makes it harder to say it’s apples and oranges, and it undercuts the argument that you were different.”


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Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Vic Eldred    2 weeks ago

Now we learn that the DOJ rejected doing a federal search for top secret documents at Joe Biden's many properties. The documents were collected by Biden lawyers who had no security clearance at all. The DOJ was more than happy to take their word. You may wonder why such leniency and consideration was extended to the sitting president? The answer we all keep getting is that Biden's lawyers were quick to comply.....six years after the documents went missing and remember: NARA never knew they were missing!

This whole thing raises more questions by the day. This is what progressive rule looks like. A lawyer for Biden claims to have found documents 6 days before an election. There is no 302 record kept of the interview, the matter is hidden from the public going into an election and now we learn that the DOJ/FBI was offered a chance to search the premises and they declined.

 
 
 
bccrane
Freshman Silent
1.1  bccrane  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    2 weeks ago
now we learn that the DOJ/FBI was offered a chance to search the premises and they declined.

Yeah right, if we find the DOJ/FBI was part of a cover up then this was part of the cover up so Biden could make claim that "Hey we asked the DOJ/FBI to handle the classified document recovery and they declined, that's not our problem, take it up with them", even though, knowing full well the fix was already in that it would be Biden's lawyers that would do it, the DOJ/FBI wouldn't do it so as to keep federal agents from getting called in front of a committee to testify under oath as to what was found, while Biden's lawyers can claim attorney-client privilege. 

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
2  Jeremy Retired in NC    2 weeks ago
Mr. Lausch told Mr. Garland on Jan. 5 that he thought a special counsel was warranted given the many unanswered questions about the documents, and Mr. Garland quickly agreed, the people said.

Unanswered questions.  Appears that the "cooperation" isn't going as well as the left wants everybody to believe.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @2    2 weeks ago

They are going to say they are transparent and be anything but!

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
2.1.1  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1    2 weeks ago

They never were.  Anybody claiming otherwise are utterly clueless.

 
 
 
bccrane
Freshman Silent
2.2  bccrane  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @2    2 weeks ago

     "cooperation"

I know, nobody likes the grammar/spelling police, but why do people keep spelling this word wrong, its actually spelled "C-O-V-E-R U-P".

The lawyers are handing over the classified files, but were they in their original folders or strewn about loose and the lawyers were putting them back into the folders, did they also turn over all the notes and memos concerning the documents that were made from them while in the possession of Biden, did the lawyers make copies of them and that is the reason they have been dribbling out, this could go on and on. 

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
2.2.1  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  bccrane @2.2    2 weeks ago
I know, nobody likes the grammar/spelling police, but why do people keep spelling this word wrong, its actually spelled "C-O-V-E-R U-P".

In this case, I'm not complaining.  You're 100% correct.

You did bring up A LOT of good questions that we both know we won't get answers to.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
3  Ronin2    2 weeks ago
Attorney General Merrick Garland last week assigned a former top prosecutor in the Trump administration, Robert Hur,  to serve as special counsel  investigating the discovery of the documents in the locales associated with Mr. Biden. Justice Department officials were concerned that an FBI presence as the Biden team hunted for documents could complicate investigators’ ability to execute search warrants or subpoena documents as the investigation proceeds, some of the people said, in a sign that investigators are considering the possibility of a grand jury investigation into the matter.

What complete and utter BS. How would an FBI presence monitoring the search hinder a special prosecutor to execute search warrants or subpoena documents. Garland sure wasn't worried about that when he ordered the FBI raid on Mar-A-Logo.

I can just imagine Brandon's sanitation team with the FBI monitoring them.

FBI- "What is in there. Have you searched in there?"

Sanitation Member- "Nothing is in there."

FBI- "So you have searched in there?"

Sanitation Member- "Nothing is in there."

FBI- "So you won't mind us having a look then?"

Sanitation Member- After moving to block the door. "That won't be necessary! We are cooperating! Nothing is in there!"

The Brandon whole "Trust us" crap is beyond old. For those repeating Brandon's line- Fuck off! The FBI needs to be conducting searches of all of Brandon's offices; residences; and anywhere else he frequented. Garland needs to be impeached, now more than ever; and a criminal inquiry started- with charges to follow. The Brandon sanitation team needs to be stopped immediately. Any member that saw classified materials that doesn't have authorization to do so charged to the full extent of the law. The FBI can report directly to the assigned special prosecutor in all instances involving Brandon documents. 

The special prosecutor for Trump can proceed with his investigation as normal.

Charges can be brought against one or both as deemed by the special prosecutors.

No more two tier justice system. No more Garland, the most corrupt and biased AG to ever hold the office. No more special privileges for Brandon the Human Fuck Up Machine.  

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4  Sparty On    2 weeks ago

Crickets from the left ......

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Sparty On @4    2 weeks ago

They're too busy trying to get a House seat back.

It won't work!

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
5  seeder  Vic Eldred    2 weeks ago

Senate Republican Leader  Mitch McConnell  (R-Ky.) on Tuesday called on special counsels at the Department of Justice to treat former  President Trump  and President  Biden  equally as they investigate their possession of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and Biden’s Washington office and home in Delaware.  

McConnell has feuded with Trump over that past two years, but McConnell nevertheless stuck up for the former Republican president, warning federal prosecutors to apply the same set of standards to both investigations.  

“I think the important thing with regard to documents is that both these guys ought to be treated exactly the same way. Exactly the same way. And so I think the attorney general probably did the right thing by having two special counsels,” McConnell told Terry Meiners on Kentucky’s NewsRadio 840 WHAS. 

“What’s good for one candidate for president ought to be good for another one,” the Senate GOP leader added.  

Attorney General Merrick Garland last week appointed Robert Hur, the former U.S. attorney for District of Maryland, to serve as special counsel handling the investigation of classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C., and at a garage at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del.  

Garland appointed Special Counsel  Jack Smith  in November to oversee the Justice Department’s investigations of Trump, including his possession of more than 300 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.  

Trump has accused the Justice Department of acting out of political motivation, calling its investigation of him “rigged” and dismissing Smith as a “political hit man.”  

Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) called on Garland last week to appoint a special counsel to investigate Biden’s possession of classified documents, arguing the failure to do so would be tantamount to setting a double standard for the former president and sitting president. "



 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
5.1  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Vic Eldred @5    2 weeks ago
“I think the important thing with regard to documents is that both these guys ought to be treated exactly the same way.

Democrats and the left are NOT going to like that.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
5.1.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @5.1    2 weeks ago

And we know that it's NEVER going to happen. As a matter of fact, the lefties don't even think this a story. Nope! They want to win back a NY House seat and KISS ASS!

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
5.1.2  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1.1    2 weeks ago

Ok...Is everbody ready?

"Santos told lies...oh my"

"Santos told lies...oh my"

"santos told lies...oh my"

th?id=OIP.-itpMzkZUQFEazupUrlFKQHaKK&pid=Api&rs=1&c=1&qlt=95&w=87&h=119

Let's make believe it's bigger that Biden being caught with classified documents!

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
5.1.3  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Vic Eldred @5.1.2    2 weeks ago

Who are they?

th?id=OIP.ZlIgwuSaWpY7ZSDu1fVYaAHaFj&pid=Api&rs=1&c=1&qlt=95&w=141&h=105

They are people who play child games.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
6  seeder  Vic Eldred    2 weeks ago

Don't you see what they are trying to do?


Vic, I just don't see it!

th?id=OIP.xmvDQEaKrKHR6vd48C9H0AHaE8&pid=Api&rs=1&c=1&qlt=95&w=177&h=118

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
7  Jeremy Retired in NC    2 weeks ago
“It is on its face preposterous that introducing the FBI at an early stage would preclude getting tougher — resorting to a search warrant, for example — down the road,” he told me. “Not only is that common sense; we know it from experience: The Justice Department sent FBI agents along with a DOJ official to Mar-a-Lago in early June 2022 to retrieve documents with classification markings. That in no way prevented the Justice Department from ‘taking a tougher line’ by executing a search warrant two months later.”

And the hypocrisy continues.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
7.1  Sparty On  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @7    2 weeks ago

Hard to believe any of them can sleep at night

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
7.1.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Sparty On @7.1    2 weeks ago

Think of it: Since Biden's Inauguration, anonymous Chinese donors have poured millions into the University hat houses his "think tank."

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
7.1.2  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Vic Eldred @7.1.1    2 weeks ago
Think of it: Since Biden's Inauguration, anonymous Chinese donors have poured millions into the University hat houses his "think tank."

Can't leave out this "think tank" illegally house classified documents.  

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
7.1.3  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @7.1.2    2 weeks ago

Think of all the people who had access to them there.

 
 
 
bccrane
Freshman Silent
7.1.4  bccrane  replied to  Vic Eldred @7.1.3    2 weeks ago

This now is the difference between how it was handled for Trump.  These classified documents didn't just sit there pristinely stored away unopened, they most likely were opened and used and a paper trail of their use through notes and memos (which if that happened all the extra material would now be considered classified).  In Trump's case a wide net was used, if you read the warrant, to catch as much of this extra material as possible and as we are finding out in Biden's case the DOJ/FBI has no interest in finding the extra materials, so let Biden's lawyers handle it. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
7.1.5  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  bccrane @7.1.4    2 weeks ago

Clearly a double standard.

I have only one thing to say to Biden and the democrats:

“How could anyone be that irresponsible?”

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
8  seeder  Vic Eldred    2 weeks ago

This just in:  Suddenly the Secret Service says they have a log of who visited the Biden residence.

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
8.1  Ronin2  replied to  Vic Eldred @8    2 weeks ago

Low and behold the mighty mental midgets found a brain synapse that still works and decided that fighting this out in court would make them look dumber than they already were!

Guess checking video and notes wasn't nearly that hard after all!

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
8.1.1  Tessylo  replied to  Ronin2 @8.1    2 weeks ago

That's 'lo and behold'

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
8.1.2  Ronin2  replied to  Tessylo @8.1.1    2 weeks ago

With the FBI, DHS, and Secret Service it is "Low". As low as a snakes belly slithering across the ground.

Sorry you didn't like the word play.

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Sophomore Guide
8.1.3  Right Down the Center  replied to  Tessylo @8.1.1    2 weeks ago

Deflection attempt noted

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
9  Tessylo    2 weeks ago

Where's the log for who visited Mar-A-Lardo?

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
9.1  Ronin2  replied to  Tessylo @9    2 weeks ago

You would have to ask the Special Prosecutor assigned to Trump's case or Garland; they already have them.

 
 
 
Snuffy
PhD Guide
9.1.1  Snuffy  replied to  Ronin2 @9.1    2 weeks ago

Yep.  The White House does not keep a visitors log for a Presidents personal residence but the Secret Service as a separate entity keeps a log of visitors including background check info, etc.  That's been talked about for a long time but some people like to ignore what's happened already.  Here's a like from CNN that shows how the info for Mar-a-Lago has already been provided due to a law suit.

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Sophomore Guide
10  Right Down the Center    2 weeks ago

The funny thing is the administration thinks if Joe keeps saying he takes classified documents seriously and his lackey keeps saying the administration is being transparent without actually answering any questions asked the people will believe them.

The sad thing is how many people are buying into the bullshit and that the media is allowed to spread the misinformation.

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Professor Principal
10.1  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Right Down the Center @10    2 weeks ago

See, they put the punctuation in the wrong place. It should have read "I take classified documents. Seriously." LOL

 
 

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