Hur testifies Biden ‘willfully retained classified materials,’ but prosecutors ‘had to consider’ mental state

Ex-Special Counsel Robert Hur testified Tuesday that President Biden ‘willfully retained classified materials’ but said he ‘had to consider’ the president’s ‘memory and overall mental state’ when determining whether to bring charges against him.

Hur, who testified publicly before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Tuesday, explained that he did not bring charges against the president despite the willful retention of classified records about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan and other countries, among other records related to national security and foreign policy, which Hur said implicated ‘sensitive intelligence sources and methods.’

‘My team and I conducted a thorough, independent investigation,’ Hur testified. ‘We identified evidence that the president willfully retained classified materials after the end of his vice presidency, when he was a private citizen.’ 

‘This evidence included an audio-recorded conversation during which Mr. Biden told his ghostwriter that he had ‘just found all the classified stuff downstairs.’ When Mr. Biden said this, he was a private citizen speaking to his ghostwriter in his private rental home in Virginia,’ Hur continued. ‘We also identified other recorded conversations during which Mr. Biden read classified information aloud to his ghostwriter.’

He added, though, that ‘we did not, however, identify evidence that rose 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.’ 

But Hur said he ‘needed to explain why’ he declined prosecution.

‘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. ‘These are the types of issues prosecutors analyze every day. And because these issues were important to my ultimate decision, I had to include a discussion of them in my report to the attorney general.’

Hur, in his report, described Biden as a ‘sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory’ – a description that has raised significant concerns for Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign.

‘The evidence and the president himself put his memory squarely at issue. We interviewed the president and asked him about his recorded statement, ‘I just found all the classified stuff downstairs.’ He told us that he didn’t remember saying that to his ghostwriter,’ Hur said. ‘He also said he didn’t remember finding any classified material in his home after his vice presidency. And he didn’t remember anything about how classified documents about Afghanistan made their way into his garage.’ 

Hur defended himself by saying his 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,’ Hur testified. ‘I explained to the attorney general my decision and the reasons for it. That’s what I was required to do.’

Hur’s opening statement came after House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan began the hearing by playing a video of Biden speaking about the former special counsel’s report on the day it was released. 

‘Mr. Hur produced a 345-page report. But in the end, it boils down to a few key facts. Joe Biden kept classified information,’ Jordan said. ‘Joe Biden failed to properly secure classified information. And Joe Biden shared classified information with people he wasn’t supposed to.’

‘We’re going to play a short video of President Biden’s press conference after your report was released,’ Jordan added. ‘Because there’s things in this press conference that the United States says that are directly contradicted by what you found in your report.’ 

A transcript of President Biden’s interviews with Robert Hur appears to contradict Biden’s claim that the former special counsel had asked him about the date of Beau Biden’s death.

But ranking member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., blasted former President Trump, who was charged by Special Counsel Jack Smith related to his own alleged mishandling of classified records. Trump pleaded not guilty. 

The former president and presumptive 2024 GOP nominee posted on Truth Social before Hur’s testimony, saying the Justice Department gave Biden a ‘free pass.’

‘Big day in Congress for the Biden Documents Hoax,’ Trump wrote on his Truth Social account. ‘He had many times more documents, including classified documents, than I, or any other president, had. He had them all over the place, with ZERO supervision or security. He does NOT come under the Presidential Records Act, I DO.’

‘The DOJ gave Biden, and virtually every other person and President, a free pass. Me, I’m still fighting!!!’ Trump added.

Trump was charged out of Smith’s investigation related to his retention of classified materials. Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 felony charges out of Smith’s probe. The charges include willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and false statements. 

Nadler played a video of clips of Trump speaking, putting into question his ‘mental state.’ 

‘That is a man who is incapable of avoiding criminal liability. A man who is wholly unfit for office … a man who, at the very least, ought to think twice before accusing others of cognitive decline,’ Nadler said of Trump, adding that Hur’s report ‘represents the complete and total exoneration of President Biden.’

Meanwhile, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., said in his opening statement that his panel has subpoenaed ex-White House counsel Dana Remus and tied Hur’s testimony into the larger House impeachment inquiry against the president. 

Comer for months has been demanding answers on whether the classified records Biden improperly retained were related to countries that his family did business with. 

House Oversight Committee ranking member Jamie Raskin, D-Md., piggybacked Nadler’s opening statement by bringing the conversation back to Trump.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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