Monday, April 15, 2024

Exclusive: Robert Hur, Special Counsel Who Investigated Biden, Breaks Silence

HomePoliticsExclusive: Robert Hur, Special Counsel Who Investigated Biden, Breaks Silence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The much-anticipated congressional testimony of Robert Hur, the former special counsel who investigated President Biden’s handling of classified documents, is setting the stage for a bipartisan grilling on Tuesday.

Mr. Hur, a longtime federal prosecutor, will take the hot seat before the House Judiciary Committee to face tough questioning from both Republicans and Democrats about his high-profile probe that ultimately declined to bring criminal charges against the President.

For Republicans, the hearing represents a prime opportunity to challenge Mr. Hur’s justification for not prosecuting Mr. Biden, despite the special counsel’s own findings that the President improperly retained sensitive government materials after leaving the vice presidency.

“We expect Mr. Hur will face intense scrutiny over his legal reasoning and the scope of his investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified records,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “The American people deserve full transparency, and we intend to get answers.”

Jordan and his Republican colleagues are likely to grill Hur over his team’s interactions and communications with senior Justice Department officials throughout the course of the investigation. They will almost certainly press him on why the evidence gathered did not amount to sufficient grounds for criminal charges against the President.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats are poised to hammer Hur over what they view as inappropriate and politically damaging characterizations of President Biden in the special counsel’s final 345-page report.

While clearing Mr. Biden of any criminal wrongdoing, Hur’s report portrayed the President as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” language that Biden’s allies condemned as a cheap shot that violated norms of Justice Department impartiality.

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“The role of a special counsel is to simply investigate the facts and make a charging decision without undue commentary or subjective assessments,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member. “We aim to hold Mr. Hur accountable for his inappropriate rhetoric regarding President Biden’s fitness.”

Hur’s appointment as special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland was intended to insulate the high-stakes documents probe from even a perception of political interference by ensuring it was led by an independent outsider prosecutor without any ties to the Biden administration.

Now 51 years old, Hur brought over two decades of experience as a federal prosecutor to the role, having previously served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland and as a senior official in the Justice Department under presidents of both parties.

His reputation for apolitical integrity earned him respect in legal circles, even as his controversial final report sparked criticism from Democrats and some former colleagues who viewed the pointed comments about Biden’s memory as overstepping proper bounds.

“For a special counsel, using subjective language to essentially Comment on a subject’s character and mental fitness seems like a bridge too far,” said Matthew Olsen, who previously served as the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division alongside Hur.

“A special counsel owes it to the public to remain dispassionate and speak solely to the factual evidence in an investigation, not engage in amateur psychoanalysis,” Olsen told the New York Times.

However, some legal experts contend that Hur may have included the memory-related commentary in an effort to pre-emptively justify and defend his decision to not bring charges against Biden, given the stark contrast with the Justice Department’s prosecution of former President Trump over his own improper retention of classified records.

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“When you have two very similar cases that reach vastly different prosecutorial outcomes, the public deserves an adequate explanation for that apparent discrepancy,” said Carrie Cordero, a former senior Justice Department official in the national security sphere.

Hur may have made an ill-advised attempt to differentiate the two matters and explain why criminal charges were declined for Biden but not for Trump, by highlighting perceived issues like Biden’s age and memory,” Cordero told the Times. “Even if that commentary oversteps the traditional role of a special counsel.”

At Tuesday’s hearing, Hur will no longer be an employee of the Justice Department, having formally resigned from his role as special counsel effective Monday. The circumstances and reasoning behind his resignation remain unclear.

He will be represented at the congressional hearing by private attorney William A. Burck, who previously served as a deputy White House counsel under President George W. Bush.

While the highly anticipated testimony will thrust Hur into the national spotlight, close observers of his career suggest he is well-equipped to handle the inevitable grilling and maintain his composure in the face of heavy partisan criticism from both sides.

“Nobody ever said this was going to be easy,” remarked Rod Rosenstein, who as a former Deputy Attorney General, appointed Hur as his top aide during the Russia investigation led by former special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I expect him to give truthful answers and not get baited into going beyond the scope of his report,” Rosenstein told the Times. “At the end of the day, he’s a professional and will approach this as he has every other high-profile case in his career.”

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The Beltway buzzing around Hur’s testimony underscores the challenges and intense scrutiny that frequently come with the appointment of special counsels who are tasked with leading potentially explosive investigations, while also endeavoring to maintain public confidence in their impartiality.

While intended to insulate such probes from even the appearance of political interference, the final accounting from special counsels often generates significant controversy and debate over their findings, as well as their perceived motivations and interpretations.

“If the target of a special counsel investigation has no complaints about the investigation, then it means the investigation is likely a cupcake investigation,” remarked John Fishwick Jr., who previously served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia.

“Mr. Hur got the mix just right,” Fishwick told the Times, “as Republicans say he was too soft and the Biden team says Hur took cheap shots.”

Ultimately, Hur’s highly anticipated congressional testimony on Tuesday may do little to quell the raging partisan firestorm around his handling of the Biden probe. But it will provide the former special counsel a rare public platform to offer his perspective at length regarding one of the most high-profile, consequential investigations in modern American political history.

All eyes in the political world will be fixated on the House Judiciary Committee hearing room as Hur gets his turn in the hot seat.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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