Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Biden attacked Hur for asking him when Beau died. That didn’t happen, sources say.

By 37ci3 Feb15,2024

President Joe Biden criticized Robert Hur last week on a particular line in the special counsel’s report. confidential documents: Biden “didn’t even remember for a few years when his son Beau died.”

“How dare he bring that up?” Biden told reporters at a White House press conference. “Frankly, when they asked me, I thought to myself, it’s none of their damn business.”

But Hur never asked that question, according to two people familiar with Hur’s five-hour interview with the president over two days last October. According to them, Beau Biden’s death was first introduced by the president, not by Hur or his team.

Sources said Biden brought up his son’s death when asked about his 2016-2018 tenure at a rental home in Virginia. Sources said a ghostwriter was helping her write a memoir about losing Beau to brain cancer in 2015. Investigators have a 2017 memo The report says Biden told the ghostwriter he found “confidential items” in that house.

Sources said Biden began trying to remember that period by discussing what had happened in his life, and it was at this point in the interview that Beau appeared confused about when Beau died. Biden got the date — May 30 — correct, but not the year.

Huron’s 345-page report pointed to evidence that Biden had taken home and kept highly classified material, exonerating him. Although Biden was found to have disclosed classified information to the ghostwriter three times, prosecutors concluded that they could not prove the president knew it was classified information at the time.

Violent criticism of the report Biden supporters, however, focused on Hur’s characterization of the president’s memory. They say the report provided gratuitous details about Biden’s memory problems, including the president’s misremembering of the year Beau died. They also seized Biden’s testimony about the special counsel asking him about the date of Beau’s death.

“Why do you ask that question?” former Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat, said Monday on MSNBC, suggested that Hur was “perhaps a rube” that “shadowed” what he put in the report. “What does this have to do with keeping classified documents?”

In a fundraising letter, first lady Jill Biden questioned whether Huron was using “our son’s death to score political points.”

Sources familiar with Biden’s take on the interview say Hur pushed the president to discipline his son by asking a series of personal questions about Beau. They included questions about Biden’s 2015 memoir, “Promise Me, Dad,” about his son’s battle with and death from cancer. Hur also asked about Biden’s work for the Biden Cancer Initiative, which was established in memory of Boone.

Those sources did not dispute that it was Biden, not Hur, who first recorded the date of Boone’s death. But they said Biden felt betrayed by comments made in Huron’s report about his memory and mental state. During the interview, Hur asked him to recall the events of the past as best he could, and Biden agreed to speak freely and at length, rather than in the clipped and focused manner of a typical witness.

Biden’s statements about his son’s death and other matters may eventually be made public. The two-day interview was audiotaped and transcribed, and congressional committees are expected to push for its release.

The Justice Department, the special counsel’s office and the White House declined to comment for this article.

Two people close to Hur said he set out to write a balanced and comprehensive story that would explain why, despite substantial evidence, he concluded that no criminal charges against Biden were warranted. According to his report, during the year-long investigation, Hur’s team examined 7 million documents and spoke with 147 witnesses.

The people of Hur say so Bidenof claim is an attempt to deflect attention from the special counsel’s questioning of the president about his son’s death from cancer, the special counsel’s findings about Biden’s handling of classified documents and his struggle to remember certain facts.

People familiar with the interview say that the line of questioning about the memoir was directly related to the central issue of the investigation. Hur’s team learned that Biden was recorded in 2017 telling a ghostwriter that he “found all the confidential stuff downstairs” at the Virginia rental house where the two were working on the book.

In the interview, Biden said he did not remember telling Hur that he had found classified documents in the house in 2017.

Hur’s investigation found that the documents Biden mentioned in 2017 were never turned over to the FBI and were, in fact, the same documents found in Biden’s Delaware garage in 2022.

Biden’s struggle to remember his time with the ghostwriter was among several exchanges in which he appeared to forget important facts during the two-day interview, according to the report. Huron’s report also states that Biden’s memory was severely limited during the 30-hour interviews he conducted with the ghost writer in 2017.

Hur noted that these memory lapses are one of the reasons he concluded it would be difficult to convince a jury to convict Biden of willful mishandling of classified information.

But Hur has come under fire for describing what he sees as Biden’s “diminished capabilities.” In Holder X, Huron’s report contained many “gratuitous remarks” that were “completely inconsistent with longstanding DOJ traditions.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland was also criticized by Democrats for releasing the full, unredacted version of the report. Under special counsel rules, they are required to write confidential reports to the attorney general detailing and explaining their decision to bring criminal charges in the case.

In the interest of transparency, Garland pledged to make all special counsel reports public, in line with the Justice Department’s practice of releasing most special counsel reports since its inception in 1999.

William Barr, the Trump administration’s attorney general, was heavily criticized in 2018 for initially releasing a two-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia report. A few weeks later, Barr released the full document.

Garland first saw Hur’s report on Feb. 5, three days before it was released, people familiar with the matter said. If the attorney general were to order any changes, he would have to disclose them to Congress under special counsel rules.

In a letter to Congress releasing the report, Garland said he had taken no action to prevent any investigation steps by Hur because nothing the special counsel did was “so inappropriate or unreasonable in light of established Department practices that it should not be followed.”

Asked whether Garland had confidence in Biden’s suitability for the job, a DOJ spokesman said, “Of course.”

It was Garland who tapped Hur, a longtime Republican and former federal prosecutor, to be Biden’s special counsel. After graduating from Harvard University and Stanford Law School, Hur served in a number of positions at the Justice Department, including as an adviser to Christopher Wray, now FBI Director, when Wray was in charge of the department’s criminal division.

During the Trump administration, Hur was senior counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation. Rosenstein said Hur is neither an ardent Trump supporter nor a partisan activist

“Rob plays it straight,” Rosenstein said in an interview. “I think he wrote in that report what he believed to be relevant facts about whether or not criminal charges should be filed.”

From 2018 to 2021, Hur served as Maryland’s U.S. attorney and was endorsed by state Democratic senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.

According to federal campaign filings, Hur donated to at least three Republican political campaigns, including $500 to former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, a Republican, during the January 2022 GOP Senate primary in Vermont, and then lost it.

Public records show Hur donated $200 to Maryland Democratic Gov. Larry Hogan in 2017 and $201 to Arizona Sen. John McCain during the 2008 presidential election. All three of these politicians are moderate Republicans by today’s standards, and none of them were hot Trumps. supporters.

NBC News lawyer Chuck Rosenberg says it’s fair to question some of the language Huron used in his report about Biden’s memory, but not Biden’s decision to explore and explain his memory problems.

“If Hur intended to tell the attorney general that he was refusing to prosecute President Biden, then I believe he owed it to him to explain his reasoning,” Rosenberg said. Wrote for the Lawfare website.

“Would Biden come across as forgetful? As sympathetic? As deliberate? As lenient? As honest? These are important decisions prosecutors make about witnesses and defendants all the time,” he said. “I really can’t imagine writing a report to the attorney general and not include those assessments.”

Those who know Hur say he did not anticipate how his depictions of the president’s memory would resonate across the political landscape. They say he believed his report would come under immediate attack from Republicans who accused him of being soft on Biden when it was released.

Instead, one line from Hur’s 345-page report will likely live on in American presidential and political history: the special counsel’s assessment that Biden would appear to the jury as a “sympathetic, well-intentioned old man with a failing memory.”

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By 37ci3

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