Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday defended the Department of Justice against criticisms that the classified documents cases against President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are being treated differently.
Republicans have accused the DOJ of giving special treatment to Biden, who was given a heads-up and allowed to have his lawyers present when he consented to a search of one of his Maryland homes on Friday. That's in contrast to the surprise raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago home where Trump's lawyers say they were not allowed to observe.
Trump himself has blasted the cases as one-sided, writing on his Truth Social site when the first documents were first announced:
"When is the FBI going to raid the many homes of Joe Biden, perhaps even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified."
Biden supporters have countered that the cases differ because Biden's team alerted the DOJ and willingly surrendered his documents when they were found whereas Trump was uncooperative claiming at various times that he had declassified the documents upon leaving office, that they were his personal property and most recently that he only kept empty classified folders as souvenirs and that agents had planted classified documents inside them.
Trump defenders have noted that, as president, Trump had the authority to declassify documents where Biden did not as vice president and senator, offices he held when he took the documents.
Garland has appointed special prosecutors in both cases, the tough-as-nails Jack Smith in Trump's case and the Trump-appointed former U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland Robert Hur in Biden's.
"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 on Monday. "That is what we've done in each of these cases and that is what we'll continue to do."
Garland said the DOJ does "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."
House Republicans, who took control of the lower chamber earlier this month, have launched their own probes into Biden's case. House Oversight Chair James Comer, R-Ky., and House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have separate investigations in progress, Axios noted.
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