Of course the DOJ should investigate Biden’s classified documents

The Charlotte Observer editorial board (TNS)

After months of bashing the Justice Department for going after the former president, Republicans are welcoming an investigation into the current one.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that he would be appointing a special prosecutor to investigate how and why classified documents from President Joe Biden’s time in the Obama administration remained in his possession.

“As I have said before, I strongly believe that the normal processes of this department can handle all investigations with integrity,” Garland said at a news conference Thursday. “But under the regulations, the extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel.”

President Joe Biden takes questions from reporters on classified documents as he delivers remarks on the economy and inflation in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 12, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images/TNS)

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It was revealed last week that Biden’s legal team discovered a set of classified documents when cleaning out his personal office in Washington, D.C., in November. A second set of documents was also apparently found at his home in Delaware. Both sets of documents were said to be leftover from his time as vice president. North Carolina Republican Rep. Dan Bishop expressed concern that the public was just now finding out if the documents were discovered in November.

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and other Republicans called on Garland to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Biden matter, saying “there should be no double standard in our justice system.” Garland complied.

The Biden news has drawn comparisons to the ongoing criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s potential mishandling of classified documents, which came to a head in August when the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.

While the inquiries into Trump and Biden both concern classified documents, the two cases appear to have key differences — despite the GOP’s eagerness to conflate them. A “small number” of classified documents were found in Biden’s possession, and his lawyers immediately notified authorities, voluntarily returning the documents as soon as they were discovered. More than 300 documents have been recovered from Trump since he left office in 2021, many of which were only obtained through a subpoena and a court-authorized search of Trump’s private residence.

Most significantly, investigators are also evaluating whether to charge Trump with obstruction of justice or destruction of documents, because he and his legal team may have defied subpoenas and made false statements in their failure to turn over all relevant documents.

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We agree with Garland’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor with Biden. An investigation is not an indictment — it’s an opportunity to provide clarity where answers are needed, and we welcome that.

It shows Americans that the Justice Department will take any potential mishandling of classified documents seriously, regardless of whether the person is a Democrat or Republican. That helps refute the loud allegations of politicization that Republicans have hurled at the DOJ — and are planning to investigate now that they’ve taken the House majority.

If the Biden and Trump situations are indeed different, then the investigation will reflect that instead of allowing resentment and conspiracy to fester. Regardless, Americans should be pleased the DOJ is doing its job.

— From The Charlotte Observer editorial board (TNS).