Robert Hur About Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents

Robert Hur

On Tuesday, former special counsel Robert Hur testified before Congress about the findings of his investigation into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents. Robert Hur’s report referred to Biden as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” which alarmed many Democrats but did not result in any charges being brought against the president.

Just months before the 2024 presidential election, Robert Hur prepared to defend his study and lay out a precise legal case—or lack thereof. However, members of the House Judiciary Committee were engaged in a fierce debate over the far more arbitrary political ramifications of Hur’s report.
Republicans attacked Biden as they pressed Robert Hur on his decision not to prosecute the president, while Democrats criticized Hur for his comments about Biden’s memory – while also focusing much of their attention on former President Donald Trump and the differences in the former president’s classified documents case, which led to an indictment last year.

Robert Hur tried his best to stick to what was in his report, even as he was pushed to go further either to criticize Biden – or to declare his innocence.

Robert Hur was clear on Tuesday that he did not want to play ball with Republicans on whether Biden is “senile,” given the former special counsel’s decision to describe Biden as an “elderly man with a poor memory” in his investigative report.

“Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘senile’ as exhibiting a decline of cognitive ability, such as memory, associated with old age,” Republican Rep. Scott Fitzgerald of Wisconsin said. “Mr. Hur, based on your report, did you find that the president was senile?”

“I did not. That conclusion does not appear in my report, ”Robert Hur replied emphatically.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state Democrat, tussled with Robert Hur over his conclusions, claiming Hur “exonerated” Biden. But Hur immediately took issue with the term during a tense exchange in which they both repeatedly cut each other off.

“This lengthy, expensive an independent investigation resulted in a complete exoneration of President Joe Biden for every document you discussed in your report, you found insufficient evidence that the president violated any laws about possession or retention of classified materials,” Jayapal said.

“I need to go back and make sure that I take note of a word that you used, ‘exoneration,’” Hur said. “That is not a word that is used in my report and that is not a part of my task as a prosecutor.”
Hur played no role in the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents – but that didn’t stop Democrats from repeatedly asking Hur about the Trump classified documents indictment.

Republicans, too, pointed to Trump on Tuesday, to make their claim that the lack of charges against Biden shows a two-tiered system of justice.

Robert Hur

In his report, Hur noted there were “several material distinctions” between the Biden and Trump cases. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Pennsylvania Democrat, asked Hur to read that section of his report into the record to hit home the point.

Democrats teased the differences between the two cases by asking Hur whether the charges against Trump in his classified documents case also applied in Biden’s case.

“Did you find that President Biden directed his lawyer to lie to the FBI?” asked Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat.

“We identified no such evidence,” Hur responded.

“Did you find that President Biden directed his personal assistant to move boxes of documents to hide them from the FBI?” Lieu later asked.

“No,” Hur said.

Lieu took his questioning a step further, asking Hur whether Biden had been investigated for allegations related to Trump’s other three indictments in connection with attempts to overturn the 2020 election and the reimbursement of hush-money payments. In their opening statements, both the top Republican and Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee overstated some of Hur’s conclusions from his investigation into Joe Biden.

Jordan, an Ohio Republican, claimed that Hur determined that Biden “broke the law” and “unlawfully” held onto classified materials after the Obama administration ended.

“Joe Biden broke the law but because he’s forgetful old man, who would appear sympathetic to a jury, Mr. Robert Hur chose not to bring charges,” Jordan said.

Nadler, meanwhile, claimed Hur fully exonerated Biden’s conduct. “In short, to borrow a phrase from the last administration, the Hur report represents the complete and total exoneration of President Biden,” Nadler said.

It’s clear from Hur’s sweeping 388-page report that he did not completely exonerate the president, as Nadler claimed Tuesday. But the conclusions weren’t as damning and far-reaching as Jordan asserted.

Most importantly, Robert Hur never said explicitly that Biden committed crimes, which Jordan suggested.

Hur found some evidence that Biden willfully retained classified materials after he left the Obama White House. He also uncovered some examples of Biden sharing classified information with his book author. Robert Hur said, though, that his team had discovered a ton of material exonerating Biden, which helped him come to the conclusion that no criminal charges were necessary.

Hur concluded in his report that there were sufficient facts in favor of Biden to “create reasonable doubt” for a prospective jury as well as “innocent explanations for the documents that we cannot refute.”

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