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Robert Hur Testimony Did Not Exonerate Joe Biden

Despite Democrat efforts, the special counsel did not let Biden off the hook.

Three questions dominated Special Counsel Robert Hur’s March 12 testimony on Capitol Hill regarding his investigation of Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents: Were crimes committed – more specifically, was there an intent to commit an act that violates federal law? Why did the special counsel not recommend future criminal charges? Why has former President Donald Trump been indicted for retaining classified documents when neither Biden nor any past presidents – many of whom did the same thing – face a similar fate? The Hur testimony answered the first two questions unequivocally – as does his report. The answer to the third question is still something of a head-scratcher.

Hur was careful to stick to what appeared in his report. At times, that strategy – which was entirely proper – stymied both the Republicans and the Democrats present at the hearing. One notable way in which Democrats attempted to elicit from Hur an opinion not included in his report concerned the matter of whether Joe Biden had committed a crime or crimes. More than one member of the House minority tried to get the special counsel to concede that he did not recommend criminal charges because he had found no evidence of unlawful activity. That was not the case, though, and Hur did not take the bait.

Charging Decision Explained in Hur Testimony

It was a point Hur was compelled to make several times: His decision not to recommend charges was not wholly based upon a lack of evidence but rather on the probability of the government getting a conviction in a jury trial. Hur deemed that possibility to be very low – in large part because he believed Biden, in some future trial when he is no longer in office, would come across as an elderly man with a failing memory, a sympathetic character unlikely to be condemned by a jury.

The special counsel did agree that there was an element of intent – of willfulness – to Biden’s retention of government documents spanning his almost five decades of public service. The current commander-in-chief did disclose sensitive information – material that may have been classified – to his ghostwriter. Hur conceded, during questioning by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), that Biden was motivated to retain documents to cement his legacy as a statesman – principally, in the form of a book for which, according to Jordan, Biden received an $8 million advance. Thus, willful intent was present.

This point exposed one of the few discrepancies between the Hur testimony and the final special counsel report, which did indeed cite a lack of evidence of willful intent beyond reasonable doubt. One might suggest that it seems Biden was afforded quite a bit of leeway: Intent existed, but not enough – or not obvious enough – to warrant a criminal charge. How many people serving prison sentences today would be free if they had been afforded such a defense?

Trump vs Biden Cases: The Same but Different?

During the hearing – and indeed within the pages of Hur’s report, curiously – certain comparisons were made between Biden’s handling of classified information and Donald Trump’s. As Liberty Nation predicted, there were attempts from both sides of the aisle to get Hur to discuss the differences or similarities between the two investigations and the special counsel declined to discuss details of the Trump case.

In the matter of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of Trump, Democrats leaned hard into the alleged efforts by the 45th president to defy requests to turn over documents and to otherwise obstruct the government’s efforts to recover those materials. The argument – which does appear to be borne out by the known facts – is that Biden took no such actions and instead cooperated with federal authorities. That doesn’t alter the fact that Trump is the only former president to even be questioned or challenged on his removal of materials when he left office. He is the only former president to be indicted for retaining documents.

Whether he is guilty of obstruction or not, it seems that Trump was singled out to be held accountable for keeping government documents – something the National Archives and the Department of Justice have acknowledged every president at least as far back as Ronald Reagan has done. Had the issue of documents not been raised – as it had not been raised to any previous president – then none of the other alleged actions would have taken place. In fact, if Trump had been left alone, then Hur’s testimony and his investigation of Biden would not have happened.

The bottom line is that neither Trump nor Biden should have been the subject of investigations for doing what so many former presidents – and probably many other government officials – have done for decades.

Still, it was clear that Democrats were on the defensive during the hearing, even going so far as to suggest the special counsel deliberately trashed Biden in his report so that he might be rewarded with a federal judgeship, should Donald Trump again become president. Though he did not let his professional demeanor slip, one could imagine that the irony of Democrats accusing others of conducting politically motivated investigations was not lost on Hur.

The Hur testimony did not exonerate Biden – and the special counsel, in answer to one question, made it clear that the word did not appear anywhere in his report (an attorney’s way of saying, no, he is not exonerated). The report of the investigation points to several possible “innocent explanations” for why Biden might have found himself with classified documents. In short, Biden has been granted the benefit of the doubt – something Trump has not enjoyed for a second from the moment he first decided to run for president.

Read More From Graham J Noble

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