The discovery of classified documents at President Joe Biden’s private office in Washington, DC — and subsequently his home in Wilmington, Delaware — has cast a shadow over the White House in recent days.
Some of the president’s closest allies and senior officials have been left entirely in the dark on a political crisis enveloping the White House.
Then on Thursday afternoon came another bombshell headline: The appointment of a special counsel to oversee the investigation.
People inside and close to the White House have been watching with concern and trepidation since Monday — privately grousing that they felt they had no choice but to simply wait, like everyone else, to see what new information would surface.
In particular, Biden allies had been monitoring the Justice Department closely all week for signs the attorney general would appoint a special counsel. With Thursday’s announcement tapping Robert Hur to serve in that role, aides acknowledge that the coming weeks will present a new level of challenge to promote Biden’s agenda in anticipation of an expected announcement he is seeking reelection.
The circle of advisers aware of the situation was kept extraordinarily tight in the two months between the discovery of the initial documents at Biden’s Washington office and Monday night, when the matter emerged publicly for the first time.
Those kept informed included a few top White House advisers and Biden’s personal attorneys, most of whom have long histories with the president, according to people familiar with the matter. There was not a broad discussion inside the White House of how to handle the matter after the initial discovery of documents or the weeks afterward.
That left many officials uncertain about whether additional disclosures were coming, and a certain degree of frustration at what seemed to be an information blackout.
All of this has also prompted a bunker mentality to set in inside the White House, with press aides answering questions with tightly-scripted referrals to the White House counsel’s office.
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