Attorney General Merrick Garland defended the Justice Department’s handling of separate special counsel investigations into classified documents linked to former President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday, claiming that Republicans and Democrats are not treated differently.
Garland was asked whether he thought the Justice Department was handling the two investigations fairly in his first public remarks on the subject after more classified documents were discovered at Biden’s home in Delaware.
“The department has a set of standards and procedures, “He stated. “These are required for us to continue. They make certain that we follow the rule of law. This means, among other things, that we do not have different rules for Democrats and Republicans, for the powerful and the powerless, for the rich and the poor. In each case, we apply the facts and the law in a neutral, nonpartisan manner. That is what we always do, and it is what we do in the situations you mention.”
Republicans have accused the Justice Department of treating Trump and Biden differently after classified documents from Trump’s administration were discovered at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida and classified documents from the Obama administration were discovered at Biden’s Wilmington home and a Washington office he had used.
“The Justice Department’s role is to apply the facts and the law in each case and reach appropriate decisions in a nonpartisan and neutral manner, regardless of who the subjects are,” added Garland, who was nominated by Biden. “We’ve done that in each of these cases. And that is exactly what we will continue to do.”
Garland appointed former federal prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel in November in connection with two Trump investigations: the classified documents discovered at Mar-a-Lago and Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. This month, Garland announced that Robert Hur, a Trump-appointed federal prosecutor, would serve as a special counsel in the Biden investigation.
Republicans in Congress have launched their own investigations into the Biden documents. Representatives James Comer, R-Ky., chair of the Oversight and Accountability Committee, and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, are leading investigations.
Biden and Trump’s reactions to the discovery of classified documents, which are supposed to be turned over to the National Archives when presidents or vice presidents leave office, have been diametrically opposed.
Before receiving some of those records in a collection of boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January last year, the National Archives had several months of correspondence with Trump officials after requesting that missing records be returned. Following Trump’s failure to comply with a subpoena for the remaining records, his Florida home was eventually searched.
According to Richard Sauber, the White House’s special counsel to the president, the National Archives was unaware of any missing records in Biden’s case until the White House counsel’s office notified it shortly after records were discovered by Biden’s lawyers.