U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday named a special counsel to investigate whether President Joe Biden improperly handled sensitive government documents,
an embarrassing echo of a wider-ranging inquiry directed at his main political rival, Donald Trump.
"I strongly believe the normal processes of this department can handle all investigations with integrity.
But under the regulations, the extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter."
Garland said former U.S. attorney Robert Hur would carry out the independent investigation
hours after the White House confirmed that Biden's legal team had found a second set of classified papers from his time as vice president in the garage of his Delaware home,
in addition to the classified documents discovered in November at a Washington think tank.
The president told reporters on Thursday that he was 'cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department's review.
"I take classified documents and classified material seriously."
The inquiry could cast a shadow over the Democratic president's expected run for re-election in 2024,
and it comes as another special counsel probe is already underway, looking at former president Trump -- his handling of classified documents and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.