Special counsel finds Biden ‘willfully’ retained classified documents

A special counsel investigating President Biden’s handling of classified materials has concluded his case without bringing charges against the president.

Special counsel Robert Hur released his findings in a 388-page report after a roughly year-long investigation into how classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president ended up at an old office space and at his Wilmington, Del., home. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Hur in January as a special counsel, tasking him with determining whether any laws were violated given the mishandling of the records.

While Hur concluded neither Biden nor his staff broke the law in removing the records, he was critical of their handling of the sensitive records.

“Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” the report states, including “documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan” and “handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods.”

“However, for the reasons summarized below, we conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The White House declined to assert privilege over any portion of the report, allowing its swift release the day after Congress was notified Hur completed his work.

Documents with classified markings were first found at a University of Pennsylvania office in Washington, D.C., that Biden used after the end of the Obama administration. Those documents were found by officials clearing out the office last November, but the discovery was not publicly disclosed until January.

The news prompted additional searches of Biden’s property, resulting in the discovery of additional records at Biden’s Delaware home. 

Biden has maintained he did nothing wrong, and his team has repeatedly noted that his lawyers quickly notified the National Archives and cooperated with the Justice Department after discovering the documents.

Biden also sat for an interview in October with Hur over the course of two days.

A separate special counsel, Jack Smith, had already been appointed to oversee the investigation into former President Trump’s mishandling of records after roughly 300 records bearing classified markings were discovered at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. 

Trump was charged in June by the Justice Department over his retention of those documents. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which allege he violated the Espionage Act and obstructed justice in taking classified records from his presidency and refusing to return them.

While Trump has tried to draw parallels between his case and the investigation into Biden, they differ in significant ways.

Among boxes and boxes of presidential records he also tried to retain as his personal property, Trump kept a collection of some of the nation’s most heavily guarded national secrets, with folders bearing labels for some of the most restricted forms of intelligence.

And Trump had a much larger tranche of documents at his Florida home and resisted multiple calls – including through a subpoena – to return them.

A superseding indictment filed by the Justice Department in the case also detailed how Trump coordinated with Mar-a-Lago employees to shuffle the boxes of records across the property in an effort to conceal them both from investigators as well as his own attorney who was seeking to comply with the subpoena.

Those details are key to the case, as Espionage Act violations require showing willful retention of national defense information.

By contrast, Biden’s counsel said his attorneys handed the documents over to the National Archives the following morning after alerting the agency of the discovery. The Archives took possession of the materials and then referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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