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By Sarah May on
 January 19, 2023

Government watchdog lodges ethics complaint over Biden documents scandal

As the scandal surrounding President Joe Biden's alleged mishandling of classified documents continues to heat up, a government watchdog organization has just filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics related to the White House Counsel's involvement in the probe, as Fox News reports.

The complaint was lodged Tuesday by Protect the Public's Trust (PPT), and according to Mike Chamberlain, the group's director, it is aimed at what many view as “a two-tiered system of justice – with well-connected insiders subject to a lower standard of scrutiny than the normal citizen” – a scenario the organization believes the Biden documents investigation has laid bare.

In a statement announcing the filing, PPT argued for an examination of the possibility that because of the manner in which searches for additional classified documents at Biden's Delaware homes were carried out, “taxpayer resources may have been inappropriately used and untenable conflicts of interest created by the involvement of senior White House lawyers in a matter that could personally benefit President Joe Biden.”

Specifically, PPT references Attorney General Merrick Garland's recent decision to appoint a special counsel to oversee the investigation of Biden's handling of sensitive materials, noting that according to media coverage of subsequent developments in the matter, attorney Richard Sauber of the White House Counsel's Office has been “heavily involved in the president's personal legal matter.”

Indeed, as PPT notes, Sauber has admitted publicly that he was directly involved in the matter from the moment classified documents were found to be in Biden's possession, saying recently, “I went to facilitate providing the document the president's personal counsel found on Wednesday to the Justice Department.”

In PPT's estimation, “The White House Counsel's Office is not the president's personal law firm. It does not represent the president in purely personal matters that are separate from his role as president. Yet, the White House Counsel's Office appears to be acting as lawyers to Joe Biden, private citizen, rather than President Biden in this matter.”

Referencing the fact that Biden's alleged mishandling of classified documents occurred before he became commander in chief, the organization added, “The involvement of the White House Counsel's Office in a personal legal matter involving the president for activities that took place while he was a private citizen raises several serious legal questions and concerns, including who the WHCO's client is in this matter.

Also demanding investigation, according to PPT, is the potentially “untenable conflicts of interest” involvement of the White House Counsel's office in this matter present.

Because Biden presumably took possession of the documents in question while he was serving under President Barack Obama, the group contends, the Office of the Presidency and maybe even the White House Counsel's Office itself may be guilty of lax security protocols and enforcement, and therefore there may be “a divergence of interests between Joe Biden, in his personal capacity, and the Office of the Presidency, the institution that the White House Counsel's Office is supposed to represent.”

As such, the complaint calls for “an independent and thorough investigation into why and to what extent taxpayer resources and expertise of the WHCO were used for the benefit of Mr. Biden and whether the use of such resources created a conflict of interest for the White House Counsel's Office.”

Referencing widespread distrust among the American people that the rule of law is consistently applied in the federal context, the group's complaint warns that a failure to investigate this matter will only exacerbate the problem.

“If other senior officials outside of the White House complex were using their authority to benefit private citizens or shield individuals from congressional scrutiny, there would be an outcry to hold them accountable,” the document explains. “This is no different.”

“There should not be a two-tiered system of government ethics that subjects prominent White House Officials to a lower standard of scrutiny than other average public servants,” the complaint concludes.

As Chamberlain accurately points out, “President Biden promised the most ethical and transparent administration in history,” but based on the jaw-dropping dearth of answers offered by the White House in the wake of this controversy – evasions that have even drawn scorn from left-leaning media outlets – that appears to be a pledge he had no intention of fulfilling.

Written By:
Sarah May

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