WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Hurr has declined to prosecute President Joe Biden for his handling of classified documents, but said in a statement released Thursday that Biden's practices “present serious risks to national security.” The president can portray himself as a “demented old man” who can sympathize with a jury.
“Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden knowingly retained and disclosed classified material while he was a private citizen and Vice President,” he said. Report said, but said the evidence “does not establish Mr Biden's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”.
The statement from Hoor — who was previously appointed by former President Donald Trump as one of the nation's top federal prosecutors — clarified the “material differences” between the theoretical case against Biden and the pending case against Trump for handling classified documents. “Severely Bad Facts” in Trump Case.
In a statement after the report was made public, Biden said he was “pleased to see that they came to the conclusion they reached — that no charges will be brought in this case, and that this matter is now closed.” “He cooperated fully, threw no roadblocks, and sought no delay.”
Harr's report included several shocking lines about Biden's memory, which the report said was “significantly lacking” during his 2023 interview with the special counsel. Biden's age and presentation will make it very difficult to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the now 81-year-old is guilty of a crime with intent.
“At trial, we anticipate that Mr. Biden may present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview with him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a bad memory,” it said. “Based on our direct interactions and observations with him, he's someone many jurors would want to identify with reasonable doubt. It's hard to convince a jury — even a former president — in his eighties — of a serious crime that requires a deliberate state of mind.
Later in the report, the special counsel said the president's memory was “worse” during the interview with him than it was in recorded conversations from 2017.
“He couldn't remember when he was vice president, forgot on the first day of the interview after his term ended ('It was 2013 – when was I vice president?'), and forgot on the second day of the interview when his term began ('In 2009, was I still vice president?' '),” the statement said.
Biden had difficulty remembering the time of his son Beau's death, as well as a discussion about Afghanistan, according to the report.
“She had no memory of her son Beau's death even years later,” the report said.
The president's defenders were quick to point out that he sat for the interview in the days after Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel. Biden appeared to give a nod to Thursday's previously scheduled remarks, saying, “I was in the middle of dealing with an international crisis.”
He said he was “particularly pleased” that the special counsel had clarified the glaring differences between the case and Donald Trump.
Andrew Wiseman, who served on special counsel Robert Mueller's team, said on MSNBC Thursday that Hurr's decision to address criticism of Biden's memory problems was “unprofessional” and recalled former FBI Director James Comey holding a press conference criticizing Hillary Clinton. A few months before the 2016 elections.
“It's not charged. Yet another person going out and expressing their opinion with adjectives and adverbs about what they think is completely inappropriate,” he said. “I think that's a very fair criticism, unfortunately, of James Comey at the FBI.” We're seeing reductions of what we saw with Hillary Clinton. Judiciary.”
In a letter Monday to Hurr and his deputy special counsel, Richard Saber, and to Biden's personal adviser, Bob Bauer, he disputed how the report characterized the president's memory.
“We do not believe the report's treatment of President Biden's memory is accurate or appropriate,” Saber and Bauer wrote in the letter, which was released Thursday. “The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a common occurrence among witnesses: the non-recollection of years-old events.”
Separately, Saber responded to the report, saying the White House was “pleased” and that there were no criminal charges.
“As the special counsel's report recognizes, the president has been fully cooperative from day one,” he said in a statement. “His team immediately self-reported the classified documents that were discovered to ensure that these documents were immediately returned to the government because the president knew where they were.”
Saber appeared to criticize the report, but made no specific points.
“We disagree with several erroneous and inappropriate comments in the special counsel's report,” Saber said in his statement. “However, the most important conclusion reached by the special counsel — that no charges are warranted — is firmly based on the facts and evidence.”
Harin's report said there were “clear” material differences between the potential case against Biden and the pending case against Trump, “unlike the evidence implicating Mr. Biden, which, if proven, presents serious aggravating facts as alleged in Mr. Trump's indictment.”
Most notably, the report said, “after being given multiple opportunities to turn over classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite.” On the contrary, “Mr. Biden turned over classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice, consented to searches of several locations, including his home, sat for voluntary interviews, and cooperated with the investigation in other ways.
Some reporting has focused on documents about Afghanistan from the early days of Barack Obama's presidency. In a taped conversation with his ghostwriter in February 2017, a month after Biden was sworn in as vice president, the report said Biden “found all of this classified down.” “Some of this may be classified, so be careful,” she told him in one post. Biden is believed to be referring to classified documents about the 2009 Afghan troop surge, which Biden opposed.
The announcement follows a long story that began in November 2022 after one of Biden's personal lawyers discovered the Obama administration's Ben Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, which Biden used as a private office. His term as Vice President has ended. Later classified documents were also found at Biden's Delaware home.
The existence of classified documents at Biden's home and former office was first reported in January 2023. CBS News The Ben Biden Center was the first to report the documents.
In January 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of Hurr as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Biden, saying the appointment gave him the authority to “investigate whether any person or entity has violated the law in connection with this matter.”
The White House said Biden was interviewed in October as part of the investigation. According to White House spokesman Ian Sams, the interview was voluntary.
“As we've said from the beginning, the president and the White House are cooperating with this investigation, and as it was appropriate, we've provided relevant updates publicly, as transparently as we can, and to preserve and protect the integrity of the investigation,” Sams said at the time.
NBC News previously reported that the special counsel also interviewed Hunter Biden, according to a source familiar with the matter.
With notification of Har, Donald Trump is the only president in history to face criminal charges, including seven felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. According to the indictment in that case, Trump kept more than 100 classified documents at his Florida home, including documents with “Top Secret” classification marks.