Jan 23, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Garland defends DOJ handling of Biden, Trump document probes

Attorney General Merrick Garland addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors 91st Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday defended the Justice Department's handling of the high-profile federal investigations into President Biden and former president Trump's handling of classified documents, rejecting Republican critiques that the department has treated the cases differently.

Why it matters: It's another attempt by Garland to insulate his department from accusations of political bias, after appointing two separate special counsels to take over the sensitive cases.

Driving the news: "The role of the Justice Department is to apply the facts and the law in each case and reach appropriate decisions in a nonpartisan and neutral way without regard to who the subjects are," Garland told reporters.

  • "That is what we've done in each of these case and that is what we'll continue to do," he said.
  • "We do not have different rules for Democrats or Republicans, different rules for the powerful or the powerless, different rules for the rich or for the poor," he also said.

The big picture: Robert Hur, former U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, is handling the investigation of the documents found at Biden's personal office and Wilmington home.

  • Meanwhile, special counsel Jack Smith is in charge of the investigation into the classified documents that federal agents located at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's Florida home.
  • The Biden case has been of particular interest to Republicans on the Hill, including House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), both of whom have recently launched their own probes.

State of play: In a letter Monday, the White House responded to Comer's requests for a broad range of information related to the federal investigation, noting that "the White House does not have possession of the documents that the National Archives and DOJ have taken possession of as part of this process."

  • "We are reviewing your recent letters with the goal of seeking to accommodate legitimate oversight interests within the Committee’s jurisdiction," White House Counsel Stuart Delery said, "while also respecting the separation of powers and the constitutional and statutory obligations of the Executive Branch generally and the White House in particular."
  • "As I’m sure you are aware, these considerations include the critical need to protect the integrity and independence of law enforcement investigations," Delery added.
  • The White House Counsel's office also emphasized on a call with reporters Monday that the "president's team has been fully cooperating" with the Justice Department and "working with them throughout this process."

Go deeper: More classified documents found in new search of Biden's home

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