Chris Lange, FISM News
Republicans are demanding that Attorney General Merrick Garland appoint a special counsel to investigate President Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
Biden’s lawyers admitted Wednesday that White House aides discovered a second batch of documents marked “classified” in the garage of one of Biden’s Delaware homes, next to his beloved Chevrolet Corvette.
Fox News reporter Peter Doocy confronted Biden about the documents in his garage at a press conference Thursday morning. Biden responded by reading a pre-written statement and then refusing further questions.
Joe Biden keeps classified documents in his garage with his Corvette pic.twitter.com/mZpIT6Kxb9
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) January 12, 2023
The discovery comes days after special counsel to President Biden Richard Sauber on Tuesday acknowledged the Nov. 2 discovery of “a small number of documents with classified markings” at the Penn Biden Center.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Wednesday that a special counsel must be appointed to investigate Biden, given that Garland appointed prosecutor Jack Smith to investigate former President Trump’s retention of classified documents.
“I think if you believe a special counsel is necessary to assure the public about the handling of classified documents by Donald Trump, you should apply a special counsel to the mishandling of classified documents by President Biden when he was vice president,” Graham said Wednesday during an interview with Martha MacCallum on Fox News.
“Garland, if you’re listening, if you thought it was necessary to appoint a special counsel regarding President Trump, then you need to do the exact same thing regarding President Biden when it comes to handling classified information,” Graham said.
“Every conservative out there is completely disgusted with the standard that exists in America when it comes to conservatives and everybody else,” he added.
‘ASTOUNDING’ DOUBLE STANDARD
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, called out the Justice Department over its “astounding” double standard in a letter he fired off to Garland on Wednesday in which he also demanded the appointment of a special counsel to probe the matter.
“In August of last year, FBI agents raided the Mar-a-Lago residence of former President Donald Trump, supposedly to secure classified documents dating back to President Trump’s time in office. President Biden appears to have done exactly what President Trump did — only he didn’t get his home raided by the FBI over it. The double standard here is astounding,” Hawley wrote.
“In President Trump’s case, that retention [of documents] triggered an unprecedented raid on the home of a former president, rationalized with a thicket of partisan doublespeak. President Biden has not experienced anything remotely similar,” Hawley wrote, adding that it wasn’t surprising in light of the fact that “today’s FBI leadership is growing more partisan by the day.”
Hawley continued: “To make matters worse, it’s taken until January of 2023 for this news to surface, even though the documents were found on November 2, 2022 — just days before a hotly contested midterm election. Clearly, the Biden Administration and its allies in the media did their best to bury the story.”
Hawley demanded that Garland disclose exactly when he learned that Biden’s office possessed classified documents and provide a full explanation of the Justice Department’s decision not to dispatch FBI agents to search the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
He also called on Garland to divulge what communications he has had with the White House and the National Archives about the classified documents in Biden’s possession.
JEAN-PIERRE SQUIRMS UNDER QUESTIONING
Suspicion about the timing of the revelation wasn’t limited to Republicans. An exchange on the subject between a CBS reporter and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre became heated during a Wednesday press briefing.
It began when CBS reporter Ed O’Keefe pressed Jean-Pierre about why the public was only just now learning about the discovery of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center.
The press secretary responded that she would not provide an answer “beyond what the president laid out,” referring to Biden’s claim that he was “surprised” to learn that classified documents were found at his think tank.
“Look, I understand you guys are going to have a lot of questions on this. I get that,” Jean-Pierre said. “And what I can tell you is that I’m not going to go beyond what the president laid out. I’m not going to go beyond what my White House counsel colleagues have stated.”
“You’re not going to answer the questions, but we’re going to ask them because that’s our job,” O’Keefe shot back, reminding the press secretary that “[Y]ou’re the one here talking to us about this. That’s why we’re asking you. So let’s just remember that.”
O’Keefe went on to ask if the delay in disclosing the discovery had “anything to do with the fact that the election was just a few days away.”
Jean-Pierre offered the pat response that the matter was being investigated by the Department of Justice.
“There was nothing stopping the president of the United States from disclosing the discovery of these classified documents in his former office before it was under Justice Department review, so why didn’t he disclose it?” O’Keefe demanded.
Jean-Pierre reiterated that the President was “surprised” and that he is taking the situation “seriously.”
After WH Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre said she will not "go beyond what the President laid out" regarding the discovery of documents marked classified at a Biden think tank, CBS News' @edokeefe pressed ahead.
Watch the exchange. pic.twitter.com/fykCwlqkKS
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 11, 2023
Jean-Pierre also refused to answer questions about whether there was motivation to conceal the discovery of the documents for political gain:
"Why didn't [Biden] or someone in the White House inform the American people when these documents were discovered on December 2nd? Did it have anything to do with the fact that the election was just a few days away?"
Karine Jean-Pierre refuses to answer. pic.twitter.com/SiozeUpJ2w
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 11, 2023
A transcript of Wednesday’s press briefing was conspicuously missing from the White House website at the time of this writing.
The classification level and specific number of documents in the second batch of classified documents, like the first, was not revealed, nor was the precise location in which they were found, per the NBC report.
CNN reported that documents found at Biden’s think tank include intelligence memos and briefing materials related to Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom.