March 13, 2024

Hur Testifies

“A U.S. prosecutor said on Tuesday his investigation of President Joe Biden over his handling of classified documents didn't exonerate the president despite declining to charge him, after setting off a political firestorm by saying Biden had a ‘poor memory.’ Former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Hur faced a grilling from the Republican-led House of Representatives Judiciary Committee

“Hur defended his discussion of Biden's memory, saying the president's state of mind was relevant to whether he committed a crime. ‘My assessment in the report about the relevance of the president's memory was necessary and accurate and fair,’ Hur said. ‘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.’” Reuters

“Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee published on Tuesday the full transcripts of President Joe Biden's interview with the special counsel.” NBC News

See past issues

From the Left

The left argues that the transcript and testimony show that Hur exaggerated Biden’s memory lapses.

“Hur’s claim that Biden had demonstrated some sort of general ‘poor memory’ hangs almost entirely on mix-ups by Biden about in what specific year several years-old events occurred. The transcript makes clear Biden remembers all those events. But it seems Biden just doesn’t pay a lot of attention to which specific year stuff happened in…

“One [such example] stood out as egregious even to many inclined to defend Biden: ‘He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died,’ the report claimed. So what happened here? The transcript makes clear that Biden remembered the day of Beau’s death (May 30), but seemed to be genuinely mixed up on which year it happened… Hur’s report looks less like a smoking gun proving Biden’s supposed age-related decline, and more like dirty pool.”

Andrew Prokop, Vox

“[The transcripts show that] Biden was being Biden. He joked, he veered off into stories, and he got two or three things wrong during a five-hour interview. In no way did he seem like a forgetful grandpa, as Hur gratuitously implied in his report. This whole thing has been a travesty. Someday maybe we'll get a special counsel—just one!—who isn't a partisan Republican with an axe to grind.”

Kevin Drum, Jabberwocking

“Representative Madeleine Dean asked Hur to read out a section of his own report. ‘Unlike the evidence involving Mr. Biden, the allegations set forth in the indictment of Mr. Trump, if proven, would present serious aggravating facts,’ Hur read, appearing uncomfortable. ‘Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite.’…

“[Representative Ted Lieu] asked Hur if he had found evidence of Biden engaging in certain behaviors, including telling his lawyer to lie to the FBI or destroy evidence, telling his aides to delete security camera footage, showing classified documents to people who did not have appropriate security clearance, or engaging in conspiracy to obstruct justice. Each time, Hur answered, ‘No.’ But, as Lieu pointed out, Trump had been accused of all of those acts.”

Tori Otten, New Republic

“When Trump provided written replies to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller… he repeatedly stated he did not recall the action, meeting, or conversation at hand—and many of these events had occurred within the previous year…

“[The hearing] cast a bright light on the brazen hypocrisy of Republicans, such as Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. James Comer, who railed against Biden and suggested he should have been indicted but who have had nary a word of rebuke for Trump regarding his alleged pilfering of top-secret records and his subsequent efforts to hide them and impede the investigation.”

David Corn, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right argues that the transcript and testimony show that Hur’s account of Biden’s memory lapses was accurate.

The right argues that the transcript and testimony show that Hur’s account of Biden’s memory lapses was accurate.

“It's impossible to read [the transcript] and not wonder if Biden routinely has conversations like this in which a host of people around him are trying to help him remember basic facts of his own life. I don't see any way to spin this as not that serious. Sure maybe a death in the family is hard to pin down but why would someone who has spent his entire life in politics ask if Trump was elected in 2017?…

“If Trump were caught asking someone around him if Biden was elected in November 2021, I don't think many in the media would brush that off as a simple mistake…

“President Biden also asked if he was Vice President in 2009 and again had to be reminded. And yet the Times story ends with a subsection titled ‘Mr. Biden appeared clearheaded most of the time.’ Great, because what we aspire to in a president is someone who is clearheaded most of the time.”

John Sexton, Hot Air

“When Hur asked the president about the classified papers in his possession, the president contended that he ‘had no purpose for them, and I think it would be inappropriate for me to keep clearly classified documents.’ But Hur, in his prepared testimony for Congress, says: ‘We also identified other recorded conversations during which Mr. Biden read classified information aloud to his ghostwriter.’…

“So, the documents did have a very specific purpose. Those files were used, according to Amtrak Joe, to help earn $8 million writing a book after leaving the Obama administration… The media continues to frame Hur’s findings as an exoneration of Biden to head off the (correct) perception that there is a stark, selective prosecution when it comes to the hoarding of classified documents. Donald Trump, yes. Biden and Hillary Clinton, no.”

David Harsanyi, The Federalist

“Once Mr. Hur concluded that Mr. Biden had ‘willfully’ retained classified documents prohibited by law, the special counsel had to explain why he decided not to prosecute. That had to include why he thought a jury would make judgments about the President’s memory…

“Mr. Hur’s observations didn’t invent the concerns about Mr. Biden’s mental ability. The reason Team Biden reacted so furiously is that Mr. Hur confirmed what ordinary Americans have seen for three years. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee played the role of defense counsel for Mr. Biden, claiming Mr. Hur is politically motivated…

“But mostly they focused on the report’s language about Mr. Trump’s documents case and tried to turn the hearing into a trial of the 45th president… Throughout it all, the special counsel hewed closely to his report. But the contrast between Mr. Hur and his critics showed who the politically motivated hacks really are.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

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