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Biden Classified Documents Probe Closed With No Charges Filed

(Bloomberg) -- The US Justice Department won’t file charges against President Joe Biden over his handling of classified documents found in his private home and office, but an investigative report will be critical of his actions, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

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Special Counsel Robert Hur, who was appointed last year by Attorney General Merrick Garland to lead the Biden documents probe, has wrapped up the investigation, according to the person, who asked not to be identified disclosing non-public information. Findings in the investigation report could be released this week, the person said.

The development removes a major legal and political weight hanging over Biden as he runs for reelection. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump, who is the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is facing felony charges related to his retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The White House and Hur’s office declined to comment. A spokesperson for Biden’s personal attorney Bob Bauer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The decision not to charge Biden isn’t surprising because it involved seemingly innocent mishandling of classified papers that were uncovered and immediately handed over for investigation, according to Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor.

“Trump’s case is completely different because of his willful refusal to return the documents,” McQuade said. “And the cover up.”

Hur was appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the discovery of documents with classified markings found at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home as well as at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, which Biden used as an office after his vice presidency.

The decision is sure to fuel Trump’s claims that the Justice Department is stacked against him. He faces charges in four different criminal prosecutions, including charges in two federal cases like the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. Hur, a Republican, is a former US attorney for Maryland nominated by then-President Trump.

White House officials have argued the Biden case is different because the president’s staff turned over classified documents voluntarily when they were discovered and invited the search of his Delaware home. Biden conducted a voluntary interview with investigators in early October.

“The voluntary interview was conducted at the White House over two days,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement at the time. “As we have said from the beginning, the president and the White House are cooperating with this investigation.”

Garland gave Hur the power to explore the “possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records.”

Read More: Garland Names Special Counsel to Oversee Biden Documents Probe

The Justice Department also previously closed a review into whether Vice President Mike Pence mishandled classified documents with no charges filed. The department sent Pence’s lawyer a letter in June saying he’d been cleared in the review.

Another special counsel, Jack Smith, was appointed by Garland in November 2022 to investigate classified materials found at Trump’s Florida home.

Prosecutors have charged Trump with obstructing the government’s efforts to reclaim classified material improperly removed from the White House after his term ended in early 2021.

--With assistance from Erik Larson and Jordan Fabian.

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