World

Special counsel won’t charge Biden for his handling of classified docs, despite evidence he ‘willfully retained’ materials


Special counsel Robert Hur said he will not recommend charges against President Joe Biden for his handling of classified documents while out of office, despite finding evidence that Biden “willfully retained” materials.

“We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter,” said Hur’s report summarizing his yearlong probe. “We would conclude the same even if there was no policy against charging a sitting president. Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified information after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”

“These materials included (1) marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and (2) notebooks containing Mr. Biden’s handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods. FBI agents recovered these materials from the garage, offices, and basement den in Mr. Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home,” the report said.

“However, for the reasons summarized below, we conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecution of Mr. Biden is also unwarranted based on our consideration of the aggravating and mitigating factors set forth in the Department of Justice’s Principles of Federal Prosecution. For these reasons, we decline prosecution of Mr. Biden,” the report said.

“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,” the report said. “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.”

According to Hur’s report, among the classified documents Biden retained were materials documenting his opposition to the troop surge in Afghanistan, including a classified handwritten memo he sent President Obama over the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday, which FBI agents recovered from Biden’s Delaware home and its garage.

Asked in his interview with investigators about handwriting on a folder containing marked classified documents about Afghanistan, the report said Biden “identified the handwriting as his, but said he recalled nothing about how the folder or its contents got into his garage.”

PHOTO: Garage box and storage closet of President Joe Biden's garage taken on Dec. 21, 2022, in a photo released by the Department of Justice.

Garage box and storage closet of President Joe Biden’s garage taken on Dec. 21, 2022, in a photo released by the Department of Justice.

Department of Justice.

The long-anticipated report was released Thursday, hours after the White House reviewed the document and announced that “in keeping with his commitment to cooperation and transparency,” the president would not assert executive privilege over any portion of the report.

Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House counsel’s office, said in a statement that the president’s legal team had completed a review of the report and that “in keeping with his commitment to cooperation and transparency,” the president would not assert executive privilege over any portion of the report.

Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this week informed key lawmakers that Hur had concluded his investigation, which examined how approximately two dozen classified documents wound up at Biden’s personal home and office.

The records in question date back to Biden’s time as vice president, and at least some include “top secret” markings, the highest level of classification.

Garland appointed Hur as special counsel in January of 2023, after aides to the president discovered a batch of ten documents at the Penn-Biden Center in Washington, D.C., where Biden kept an office after his vice presidency.

A second discovery of additional records in the garage of Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home precipitated Garland’s decision to assign Hur as special counsel, ABC News reported at the time.

Investigators interviewed as many as 100 current and former officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, and Hunter Biden, the president’s son. In October, Hur’s team spent two days interviewing Biden himself.

ABC News previously reported that sources who were present for some of the interviews, including witnesses, said that authorities had apparently uncovered instances of carelessness from Biden’s vice presidency, but that — based on what was said in the interviews — the improper removal of classified documents from Biden’s office when he left the White House in 2017 seemed to be more likely a mistake than a criminal act.

The White House had emphasized from the beginning that it would cooperate with investigators. Biden himself repeatedly denied any personal wrongdoing and said he was “surprised” to learn of the documents’ existence.

The Hur investigation has played out quietly against the backdrop of special counsel Jack Smith’s inquiry into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified records, which culminated last year in a 40-count indictment, to which Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Trump has sought to link his circumstances to Biden’s by trying to draw an equivalence between their conduct and calling his prosecution the result of a justice system improperly targeting Republicans.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden leaves Air Force One upon arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y,  on Feb. 7, 2024.

President Joe Biden leaves Air Force One upon arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y, on Feb. 7, 2024.

Derek French/SOPA Images via Shutterstock

But records subsequently released by the National Archives indicate that Biden’s legal team cooperated with National Archives officials, whereas federal prosecutors have accused Trump of deliberately withholding records he knew to be classified from investigators with the National Archives and, later, the FBI.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button