Special Counsel testifies about Biden probe

US News

Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday slammed Special Counsel Robert Hur for assessing President Joe Biden’s mental state during his investigation of Biden’s retention of classified documents after he was vice president.

“You cannot tell me you’re so naive as to think your words would not have created a political firestorm,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told Hur as the special counsel testified at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Another Democrat on the committee, Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, told Hur, “You’re doing everything you can do to get President [Donald] Trump reelected so that you can get appointed as a federal judge or perhaps to another position in the Department of Justice.”

Hur replied that he had “no such aspirations.”

But the prosecutor declined to pledge not to accept a future appointment from Trump when asked by another Democrat, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California..

“I’m not here to testify today about what will happen in the future,” Hur told Swalwell.

Hur defended his controversial decision to assess the “memory and overall mental state” of Biden during his investigation.

“My task was to determine whether the president retained or disclosed national defense information willfully,” Hur told the committee

“I could not make that determination without assessing the president’s state of mind,” Hur testified.

The special counsel in his final report on the probe concluded that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials” which the special counsel wrote presented “serious risks to national security.”

But Hur also said in that report that he decided not to criminally prosecute Biden for his handling of that material, in part because of the president’s allegedly poor memory, among other things.

“I had to consider the president’s memory and overall mental state and how a jury likely would perceive his memory and mental state in a criminal trial,” Hur testified Tuesday.

Biden and his lawyers have strongly disputed Hur’s characterization of the president’s memory, and have pointed to details in the the special counsel’s report that undercut the claim that he willfully retained classified documents.

“I did not sanitize my explanation. Nor did I disparage the president unfairly,” Hur told lawmakers Tuesday.

Former Special Counsel Robert K. Hur testifies alongside a video of President Joe Biden before the House Judiciary Committee on March 12, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Hur told Congress he did not recommend charges against Biden because the evidence did not rise to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Because the evidence fell short of that standard, I declined to recommend criminal charges against Mr. Biden,” Hur said.

Republicans on the panel accused the White House of obstructing Congress by not complying with a subpoena asking for audio recordings of Hur’s interview with Biden.

“President Biden, the White House, and his personal attorneys have not been honest with the American people about his willful retention of classified material and continue to hide information from Congress,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer, D-Ky., said.

Democratic members on Tuesday released the transcripts of Hur’s interviews of Biden.

NBC News reported that Hur in advance of his testimony had resigned as special counsel, as is normal for those prosecutors appointed by the Department of Justice to investigate.

Hur and other special counsels that have been tapped to probe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and Trump, were appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, given the fact that President Biden is Garland’s boss.

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) (L) and Ranking Member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) deliver opening statements as former Special Counsel Robert K. Hur testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on March 12, 2024 in Washington, DC. 

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Democrats drew a contrast between Trump and Biden at the hearing Tuesday by highlighting criminal charges against Trump.

Trump is being prosecuted in Florida federal court by special counsel Jack Smith for retaining classified documents at his Palm Beach residence after leaving the White House, and for alleged efforts to hide those records from government officials once they were determined to be missing.

Trump, who is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has pleaded not guilty in that case.

“President Biden acted responsibly, cooperated completely,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

“President Trump was fundamentally incapable of taking advantage of even one of the many, many chances he was given to avoid those charges,” Nadler said.

This is developing news. Check back for updates.

Read original source here.

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