The Justice Department considered but declined a role in the search for Biden documents

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department thinks FBI agents should monitor the search of President Biden’s lawyers. Classified documents While at his home, to avoid complicating the later stages of the investigation, Mr. Biden’s lawyers quickly changed the first batch and decided against it.

After Biden’s lawyers He found documents marked classified The Justice Department opened an investigation into the Washington-based think tank on Nov. Why and how they got there. Mr. Biden’s legal team is set to search his other properties for similar documents, and Mr. Biden’s attorneys have discussed with the Justice Department the possibility of FBI agents being present during additional searches.

On the contrary, Mr. Both sides agreed that they were Biden’s personal attorneys Houses will be inspectedNotify the Department of Justice as soon as they find any other potentially classified records, and arrange for law enforcement officials to retrieve them.

Those previously undisclosed discussions shed new light on how the Biden team’s efforts to cooperate with investigators have so far helped avoid aggressive actions by law enforcement.

The incident coincided with the discovery of the largest number of documents on a former president in a week after news of the documents first emerged.

Donald TrumpMar-a-Lago home in Florida, where federal agents A search warrant was obtained in August Mr. After more than a year of negotiations between Trump’s lawyers, the National Archives and the Justice Department, Mr. Trump said all the documents had been returned. Trump’s lawyers said.

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Mr. Trump’s supporters have accused him of practicing double standards in judicial treatment; Mr. Biden’s supporters have pointed to the cooperation of the president’s legal team and the swift action taken to notify the Justice Department of the discovery of the documents as key differences. Mr. Trump said he did not know what the documents were or how they were damaged in his office at the Penn Biden Center or at his Delaware home. Biden said. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who was the director of the Washington think tank from 2017 to 2019, told reporters on Tuesday that he was not aware of government documents being stored there.

President Biden said Thursday that a “small number” of classified documents from his time as vice president were found in his home and in his personal library. Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined the decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate. Photo: Kevin Deitch/Getty Images

The Justice Department’s deliberations and the Justice Department’s willingness to allow Biden lawyers to conduct unsupervised searches, Mr. Federal investigators are reining in a months-long investigation that could stretch into Biden’s third year in office.

One reason for not involving the FBI in the early stages: Current and former law enforcement officials said the Justice Department would preserve the ability to take the hard way, including executing a future search warrant, if negotiations ever turn adversarial.

Representatives for the FBI and Justice Department declined to comment. White House spokesman Ian Sams, who called reporters about the investigation, said the president and his team were fully cooperating with the special counsel’s review, “so that it can proceed expeditiously and thoroughly.”

The White House made the disclosures on two separate days last week Documents found Found in the garage at the president’s Delaware home in December. One reason the new documents were disclosed separately was because Mr. Biden’s personal attorneys do not have security clearances to handle classified documents, and any material that might qualify as such is to be excluded. Mr. Richard Saber, who received that permission. Biden’s special counsel, along with Justice Department personnel to recover the documents, found additional pages with classification marks.

Attorney General Merrick Garland last week appointed Robert Harr, a former top Trump administration lawyer.

To work as a special consultant Mr. Investigation into discovery of documents at locations linked to Biden. Justice Department officials have worried that the FBI’s presence as the Biden team hunts for documents could complicate investigators’ ability to execute search warrants or subpoena documents as the investigation continues. A grand jury hearing the matter.

Mr. Hurr is expected to begin his job as special counsel by the end of the month after finishing his stint as a defense attorney at law firm Gibson Dunn, people familiar with his appointment said.

Robert Hur has been appointed special counsel in the Biden documents investigation.


Michael McCoy/REUTERS

After the initial discovery in November, Mr. Garland asked Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney John Lash in Chicago to review the documents.

Lash told Mr. Garland on Jan. 5 that he thought a special counsel was needed to address several unanswered questions about the documents, and Mr. Garland quickly agreed, the people said.

Mr. Hurr is expected to face thorny legal and political considerations that may be reminiscent of the last special counsel associated with a sitting president, including Mr. Investigators spent more than a year trying to interview then-President Trump during the 2017-19 special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and links between that effort and the Trump campaign.

Mr. If Sams is asked, Mr. with special counsel. Biden declined to say whether he would sit down for an interview.

Legal experts, open book strategy Mr. Summarize Har’s investigation, Mr. He said it would also help keep Biden from being dragged into the presidency.

“My goal is to get everyone interviewed by Robert Hurr as soon as possible,” said Neil Eccleston, who served as a White House adviser in the Obama administration.

And so comes the judicial inquiry into the Biden documents Another special tip Mr. A parallel investigation into classified documents at Trump’s Florida home is already underway.

Last year, FBI agents raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.


Marco Bello/Reuters

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

The Judiciary sought to keep these two inquiries separate by assigning them to different committees, familiar with the matter. The Biden White House has highlighted differences between the two investigations, particularly emphasizing how their cooperative stance contrasts with the Trump team’s resistance to turning over the records to the National Archives after repeated requests. Mr. Trump’s legal team later collided with the Department of Justice regarding the appointment of an outside arbitrator, known as a special master, to review documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

The Biden team’s findings confirmed document findings after news reports and provided some new details — Mr. Mr. Biden’s actions. That complicates its attempt to draw a hard distinction between Trump’s actions, John Fishwick said. Served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia during the Obama administration.

“The president that he is in office, there’s no reason for him to stop anything about this,” Mr. Fishwick said. “It makes it harder to say it’s apples and oranges, and it lessens the argument that you were different.”

Sabrina Siddiqui contributed to this article.

Write to Aruna Viswanatha at [email protected], Sadie Gurman at [email protected] and C. Ryan Barber at [email protected].

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