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White House asked for changes to Hur report on classified documents


The White House asked Special Counsel Robert Hur to make changes to descriptions of President Joe Biden’s memory in Hur’s bombshell report on how the president handled classified documents.

Before the report was made public in early February, the special counsel sent a draft of his report to the White House. The White House then asked for changes, including to how Biden’s memory was portrayed in the report.

“They did request certain edits and changes to the draft report,” Hur testified Tuesday before the House Committee on the Judiciary.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked if the changes related to Biden’s memory. Hur confirmed that was correct.

Hur’s 388-page report found that Biden was careless with classified documents, but shouldn’t be prosecuted. The special counsel report highlighted Biden’s trouble remembering things, including when he served as vice president and the year his son died, among others.

“We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” Hur’s team wrote in the report. “Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone for whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt. It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him – by then a former president well into his eighties – of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.”

Members of the House Committee on the Judiciary grilled Hur on Tuesday over the report. Hur faced criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said Hur was a Republican who went outside the scope of his assignment to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents.

“Despite clearing President Biden from being prosecuted, you used your report to trash and smear President Biden because he said in response to questions over a five-hour interview that he didn’t recall how he got the documents and you knew that would play into the Republicans’ narrative that the President is unfit for office because he’s senile,” Johnson said. “And the American people saw during the State of the Union address that that was not true, but yet that’s what you tried to offer to them and that’s why they are having you here today.”

Hur responded clearly and forcefully: “I reject the suggestion that you have just made. That is not what happened.”

Johnson tried to speak over Hur as Hur continued: “Partisan politics played no part whatsoever in my work.”

Johnson also accused Hur of being a member of the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians. Hur said he was not a member of the Federalist Society, but said he was a registered Republican.

Johnson said Hur was trying to get Trump re-elected so Hur could get a federal appointment as a judge. Hur denied he had any such aspirations.

“Partisan politics had no place whatsoever in my work, it had no place in the investigative steps I took, it had no place in the decision I made and it had no place in a single word of my report,” Hur said in response.

Hur defended his work throughout the hearing.

“There has been a lot of attention paid to language in the report about the President’s memory, so let me say a few words about that. My task was to determine whether the President retained or disclosed national defense information ‘willfully’ – meaning, knowingly and with the intent to do something the law forbids,” Hur said. “I could not make that determination without assessing the President’s state of mind. For that reason, 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. 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 said that given his assignment, it was important to show his work and how he reached his conclusions.

“My assessment in the report about the relevance of the President’s memory was necessary and accurate and fair,” Hur said. “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. I explained to the attorney general my decision and the reasons for it. That’s what I was required to do.”

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., asked Hur if President Biden’s fiery assertion during a news conference after the special counsel report was released that he “did not share classified information” was correct.

“That is inconsistent with the findings based on the evidence in my report,” Hur replied.

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said that Hur’s report had exonerated Biden.

Hur replied: “I did not exonerate him.”

Republicans also dished out criticism of the report and Hur’s conclusion that Biden shouldn’t be prosecuted.

U.S. Rep. Jefferson Van Drew, R-NJ, said Biden’s handling of classified documents got a pass when former President Donald Trump did not.

“We have a former vice president who will not suffer any formal consequences for all of these actions,” the New Jersey Republican said. “All because we say well ‘he’s a well-meaning forgetful old man.’ You know if you were kind of a well-meaning forgetful old man that was driving a car and you forgot what you were doing for a little bit and you hit somebody and killed them, I believe you’d be responsible. The law must apply to everyone.”