Scrutiny builds over material from Biden home, office

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Biden is facing new scrutiny over classified documents discovered at his home and an office he used after leaving the vice presidency.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed former U.S. Attorney Robert Hur as special counsel to look into the recently discovered classified documents.

The move means that both parties’ standard-bearers — who could face a rematch in 2024 — are facing probes surrounding potential mishandling of sensitive material.

Biden’s team maintains his situation was a mishap and unintentional, while the FBI executed a warrant to seize documents held at former President Trump‘s home.

Trump was slammed for keeping hundreds of classified documents and other records at his private resort in Florida and refusing to voluntarily release them to the Archives. The FBI ultimately went into the residence last year with a warrant to retrieve them.

“We are confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the President and his lawyers acted promptly upon discovery of this mistake,” Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a statement on the material tied to Biden.

Republicans, fresh off gaining control of the House and its powerful investigative bodies, have fast signaled plans to probe the issue.

“I think if you call a lawyer to remove something for your office, he must have known ahead of time,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Thursday. “I think he has a lot of answers to the American public — the good thing about that is the American public has a Congress that can get the answers.”

Initial documents were discovered after Biden’s personal attorneys were packing files kept at Biden’s office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., in November, but their existence was publicly revealed only this week after a CBS News report.

On Thursday, Sauber acknowledged that more records with classified markings had been found in a garage at Biden’s home in Delaware.

All of the documents have been turned over to the National Archives and the White House has said it is cooperating with the review.

Read more on special counsel Robert Hur’s background here, via The Hill.

This is NotedDC, looking at the politics, policy and people behind the stories in Washington. We’re The Hill’s Amée LaTour and Liz Crisp.

Today we’ll look at the growing chorus of lawmakers calling for George Santos to resign, share details on the Senate’s newest member and dig into chatter over a so-called discharge petition.

But first, a note to our dear readers: This is the last edition of NotedDC. We thank each of you for following along as we’ve tracked the latest political news. It’s been a pleasure offering behind-the-scenes coverage of Washington and beyond!

You can find our work elsewhere at The Hill. Please consider signing up for more newsletters here for continued coverage of the latest in politics.

Now let’s dive in!

McCarthy sticks by Santos

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.)
(Greg Nash, The Hill)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has defended his decision not to call for the resignation of Rep. George Santos, even as more revelations arise surrounding the embattled New York Republican’s prior false claims about his personal biography.

“The voters of his district have elected him,” McCarthy told reporters during his first news conference since being elected Speaker last week.

Santos, who has admitted fabricating details about his education history and work background, represents a district that was solidly in favor of President Biden’s election in 2020 and continues to trend toward Democrats.

Republicans currently hold a narrow 222-212 majority in the House as they try to hammer the Biden administration with investigations and pursue their own legislation, offering GOP leaders little wiggle room in trying to advance their agenda.

McCarthy said he’s leaving it up to the Ethics Committee to determine Santos’s future in Congress, while Santos has reportedly said he won’t seek reelection next year.

“He’s got a long way to go to earn trust,” McCarthy said. “He will be held accountable, exactly as anybody else in his body would.”

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) hammered the House GOP’s decision to leave the embattled congressman in place.

“The spectacle that is George Santos speaks for itself,” Jeffries told reporters Thursday. “It’s now the responsibility of House Republicans to do something about it.

Jeffries also seemed baffled by the situation that led to Santos’s election last fall.

“How did Republicans let this happen? How did you get behind someone like George Santos, who is so clearly a fraudster?” he said.

Santos’s office didn’t respond to NotedDC’s request for further comment, but the congressman has been active on Twitter and in the halls of the Capitol vowing that he won’t resign.

He has since told reporters he would only resign if 142 people called for his resignation. (His office didn’t respond to a specific request from us on the significance of that number, but he was elected with just over 142,000 votes.) 


  • Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is sticking to his pledge to keep a pair of high-profile Democrats — Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (Calif.) — from joining the powerful Intelligence Committee in the new Congress.
  • It’s been nearly three months since a Mega Millions ticket matched all six numbers to claim the game’s top prize, allowing the jackpot to grow to a record-setting $1.35 billion ahead of Friday’s drawing. 

Billionaire scion Ricketts joins Senate ranks

(Greg Nash/The Hill)

The Senate won’t be back in session until the end of the month, but one new GOP senator is likely to become popular among his new Republican cohorts for his fundraising potential.

Former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) was appointed this week to fill the vacancy left by former Sen. Ben Sasse (R), who left office to become president of the University of Florida. 

Ricketts, who has made an unsuccessful attempt at the Senate in 2006, is the son of Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade whose family also owns the Chicago Cubs.

His family has been among the most powerful political contributors in the GOP. The appointment didn’t come as a surprise, as it had been expected since Sasse announced his future plans, but it was made official this week when Sasse formally left the Senate for university life.

Ricketts will hold the seat until January 2025 under the appointment, but he’ll have to run for election in 2024 for the other two years of Sasse’s term. Ricketts has said he plans to run in that race, as well as the 2026 race for a full six-year term.

Read more here on Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen’s decision to appoint Ricketts, via The Hill’s Al Weaver.

House committees taking shape

(Greg Nash/The Hill)

The formation of House committees — a process the Speaker election delayed — is well underway this week.  

  • The Republican Steering Committee made its choices in contested chair races and chose members for some top panels (with more assignments to come).
  • Two new panels were created, and committees pushed forward on one of the House GOP’s top priority areas: investigations.

Here’s a roundup of the week’s developments:

CHAIR SELECTIONS: Our colleague Emily Brooks wrote about the Steering Committee’s chair selections in contested races. Some excerpts:

Budget: Rep. Jodey Arrington (Texas) — “The House Budget Committee is likely to have a bigger role in the 118th Congress after McCarthy and a group of hard-line conservatives reached an agreement to set overall discretionary spending levels for fiscal year 2024 at fiscal year 2022 levels, and will aim for spending cuts.” 

Education and the Workforce: Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.) — “Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.) was granted a waiver from the steering committee to run for the gavel again. House GOP Conference Rules allow members to serve only three consecutive terms as head of a panel, and Foxx finished up her third term as the top Republican on the panel at the end of the last Congress.” 

Homeland Security: Rep. Mark Green (Tenn.) — “Green is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and his selection to lead the panel is a win for the hard-line conservative group that was pressing for more conservative representation in committee chairmanships and on key panels.” 

Ways and Means: Rep. Jason Smith (Mo.) — “Jason Smith is a close McCarthy ally[.] … He opted against a potential run for Senate in the 2022 cycle as he announced a bid for the powerful chairmanship.” 

Our colleague Stephen Neukam covered more committee chairs here

COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS BEGIN: On Wednesday, the Republican Steering Committee made its picks for four top committees.

Brooks noted that the lists include several members who repeatedly voted against Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for Speaker last week.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) — who himself received several votes for Speaker – and first-term Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) were chosen to join the Financial Services Committee. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), another McCarthy detractor, joined the committee last year and will remain there.

Reps. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) were picked to join the Appropriations Committee.

See new GOP member lists below from each committee: 

INVESTIGATIONS: From The Hill’s Lauren Sforza: “New House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) on Wednesday launched the GOP’s long-awaited investigation into President Biden and his family’s finances, requesting information from the Treasury Department.” More on that here.

On Tuesday, the House passed a resolution creating the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government within the House Judiciary Committee.  

“The panel’s creation is a victory for the House’s Freedom Caucus, which pushed for a body that would tackle a number of GOP gripes, carrying on [Rep. Jim] Jordan’s prior claims that the Justice Department, and most particularly the FBI, has ‘ridiculed conservative Americans,’” our colleagues Rebecca Beitsch and Mychael Schnell wrote

Many members of both parties voted to create another new committee: the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. The Hill’s Julia Mueller has more on the new panels here.

What Dems are saying about a discharge petition

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) leaves the Capitol following the last votes of the week on July 1.
(Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), photo by Greg Nash, The Hill)

With House Republicans demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling and Democrats pushing back against those demands, lawmakers face a complicated path to avoiding a national default this year.

As our colleague Alexander Bolton wrote, “Congress has successfully avoided a debt limit crisis since 2011, which was also the first year of a new House GOP majority.”   

“That year, the standoff between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House brought the federal government within days of defaulting on its debt obligations.” 

Last week on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) floated a discharge petition as an option for getting important legislation to a vote without support from some Republicans. 

The idea would be that House Democrats in the minority could join a handful of Republicans to use the procedure to enable votes on legislation, such as raising the debt ceiling, if bills get stuck in a GOP-controlled committee.

A discharge petition needs support from a majority in the House — 218 members — meaning a handful of Republicans would need to sign onto the plan. The approach may be a longshot, but it’s one some members have discussed as a possibility

The Congressional Research Service wrote in a 2019 report that “discharge is designed to be difficult to accomplish and has infrequently been used with success.” One noteworthy requirement: “Discharge may be attempted only on a measure that has been referred to committee for at least 30 legislative days.”  

Reps. Greg Casar (D-Texas) and Susie Lee (D-Nev.) shared comments with NotedDC about the possibility of using a discharge petition on legislation like raising the debt ceiling. Both serve as whips for large Democratic groups — Casar for the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Lee for the New Democrat Coalition. 

“Democrats are committed to protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from House Republicans’ threatened cuts — and if any Republicans want to defect from their dangerous party line to work with us, I welcome that,” Casar said in a statement shared with The Hill. 

Lee said in a statement: “I fear that concessions made to fringe members on the far right may limit the productivity of those of us in the middle from both parties, who are working to get things done for the American people. I’m open to legislative mechanisms that will keep this Congress working, including the possibility of a discharge petition that would likely bring common-sense Democrats and Republicans together.”  

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked about using a discharge petition that “we are going to extend the hand of partnership to the other side of the aisle … And there are Republicans who are interested in governing. And they’re going to have to break from the extreme wings of their party at times around some important issues. And we’ll see how that all unfolds.” 

The Wall Street Journal reported on Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar’s (Calif.) comment to reporters: “The rules of the House aren’t lost on me, let’s just say that.” 

The Wall Street Journal also reported on House Budget Committee ranking Democrat Brendan Boyle’s (Pa.) comment about his conversations with colleagues on the topic: “Bottom line: People who may think it will be easy to utilize are mistaken.” 


“My Corvette’s in a locked garage, OK? So it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street.”

 President Biden on news of classified documents discovered in the garage at his Delaware home. Read more here 



Inflation rate in December — down from 7.1 percent in November. More on the latest inflation data via The Hill here.

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Tags Biden Donald Trump Donald Trump George Santos House GOP majority Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Merrick Garland Merrick Garland special counsel

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