Special Counsel Hur Squares Off with White House, Says Biden ‘Willfully Retained’ Classified Memos

by Steven Richards


Special Counsel Robert Hur on Tuesday directly disputed the White House narrative on President Biden’s retention of classified documents after his vice presidency, confirming Biden “willfully” retained classified documents, indicated Biden lied to reporters when he said he did not share such information, and testified his report “did not exonerate” Biden of wrongdoing.

He insisted in nationally televised testimony to Congress that Biden did “willfully” keep nationally secrets but that prosecutors did not believe they could prove it to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hur was appointed special counsel by the Justice Department to look into Biden’s handling of classified document after he left the Obama White House in 2017.

Republicans, led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, questioned Hur in testimony likely to influence the 2024 elections, in which Biden is seeking reelection, and argued Biden kept the materials because they will help him write a book that earned him $8 million.

Hur confirmed to lawmakers Biden did in fact share classified information with the ghostwriter for the book.

Hur reaffirmed the primary conclusion from his report that reportedly frustrated the White House.

Spokesman for the White House Counsel’s office Ian Sams wrote a letter to the White House Correspondents’ Association criticizing the media coverage of the special counsel’s conclusions, prior to Hur testifying.

Though the report said Biden “willfully” retained classified material, Sams stressed Hur concluded “that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“We obtained evidence President Biden willfully retained classified information,” Hur said in his opening statement. The evidence includes recorded conversations with his ghostwriter where he shared classified information. However, Hur concluded the information was not enough to prove any violations beyond a reasonable doubt.

Yet, Hur appeared to confirm under questioning from Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, that President Biden lied when he told the press “I did not share classified information…I did not share it… I guarantee I did not.”

“That’s not true, is it Mr. Hur,” Gaetz asked.

“That is inconsistent with the finds based on the evidence in my report,” Hur replied.

“Yeah so it’s a lie, just what regular people might say,” Gaetz said. Hur did not give a verbal response, but appeared to laugh.

In an exchange with Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Hur insisted that his report did not “exonerate” Biden from wrongdoing in his handling of classified documents.

“So this lengthy, expensive and independent investigation resulted in a complete exoneration of President Joe Biden,” Rep. Jayapal said to Hur. “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. The primary law that you analyze for potential prosecution was part of the Espionage Act, 18 U.S.C. 793, which criminalizes willful retention or disclosure of national defense information. Is that correct?”

“Congresswoman, that is one statute that we analyzed. I need to go back and make sure that I take note of the word that you used. Exoneration. That is not a word that used in the report and that is not part of my task as a prosecutor. The judgement that I received and that I ultimately reached was relating to whether sufficient evidence existed such that the likely outcome would be a conviction,” Hur answered.

Hur told the committee he knew he needed to explain his decision, given the fraught nature of investigating a sitting president and in light of the evidence contained in his report.

“The need to show my work was especially strong here. The Attorney General had appointed me to investigate the actions of the Attorney General’s boss, the sitting President of the United States. I knew that for my decision to be credible, I could not simply announce that I recommended no criminal charges and leave it at that. I needed to explain why,” Hur wrote in opening remarks.

Hur testified to the necessity of including an assessment of the president’s memory in his report because it was relevant to determining whether jurors would believe Biden “willfully” retaining the documents with a full understanding of the law.

“My assessment in the report about the relevance of the President’s memory was necessary and accurate and fair. Most importantly, what I wrote is what I believe the evidence shows, and what I expect jurors would perceive and believe. I did not sanitize my explanation. Nor did I disparage the president unfairly. I explained to the Attorney General my decision and the reasons for it. That’s what I was required to do,” Hur wrote.

In his opening remarks, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan highlighted the key conclusions of the special counsel’s report: that Biden “willfully” retained classified documents and shared classified information with someone not qualified to see it.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democrat Ranking Member of the Committee drew a contrast between President Biden and former President Trump’s handling of classified documents, a distinction special counsel Hur made in his report.

“It is not our role to assess the criminal charges pending against Mr. Trump, but several material distinctions between Mr. Trump’s case and Mr. Biden’s are clear. Unlike the evidence involving Mr. Biden, the allegations set forth in the indictment of Mr. Trump, if proven, would present serious aggravating facts,” Hur wrote in his report.

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Steven Richards joined Just the News in August 2023 after previously working as a Research Analyst for the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) in Tallahassee, Florida. He is a two-time graduate of Florida State University with a Masters in Political Science and a B.S. in International Affairs.





Reprinted with permission from Just the News 

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