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ROUNDUP: Experts Agree: MAGA Republican Robert Hur’s Cheap Political Punch Was Wrong and Outrageous

Mar 11, 2024

Last month, Trump-appointed prosecutor Robert Hur released a report recommending no criminal charges in President Biden’s handling of documents and acknowledging the stark differences between President Biden’s and former President Trump’s cases. Hur looked back over President Biden’s 40 years of public service and found no evidence of wrongdoing. And, Hur himself acknowledged, President Biden cooperated fully with the Department of Justice and went above and beyond to provide investigators with access to his records, all while Donald Trump repeatedly obstructed efforts to retrieve sensitive documents to the point that the Department of Justice had to obtain and execute a search warrant. 

Even so – Hur attacked the President with partisan, unnecessary, doing Trump’s bidding by releasing a report riddled with negative, extraneous opinions. Don’t just take our word for it – experts agreed. 

Tomorrow’s House Judiciary Committee hearing is just another MAGA effort to harm President Biden and help Donald Trump return to the White House in 2024. This political stunt is just another part of the MAGA agenda, seeking to hurt President Biden and distract from Trump’s two impeachments, 91 criminal indictments, and the insurrection he started.

Expert Commentary

Mark Lytle (Former Trump White House Lawyer): “I Think It’s Outrageous…Hur Is Acting Like Prosecutor, Judge And Jury.” 

  • “I think it’s outrageous. Prosecutors are taught that the Department of Justice should speak through charges or it shouldn’t speak at all. I’m no fan of President Biden, but he’s not charged with a crime and now he’s out there having to defend himself. And how can he defend himself when there’s no jury or judge to decide whether those allegations are true? Hur is acting like prosecutor, judge and jury. And the other side of that coin is it gives Trump and other opponents of Biden all this ammo to argue against him.” 

Ty Cobb (Former Trump White House Counsel): Portions of Hur’s Report “Gave Me Great Pause.” 

  • “Some of [the examples] gave me great pause…I think it might have been better here to simply say that the president would have been a sympathetic defendant rather than go into the memory issues at the level that they did.”

Michael Luttig (Retired Bush-Appointed Federal Judge): “That’s About As Unseemly And An Abuse Of Power As I Can Imagine.” 

  • “There’s considerable discussion in the 315 page report, which again, in my view, is an abuse of power, pure and simple. But he goes on at length about the incumbent president’s mental capacity in whatever context all towards the end of concluding that Joe Biden should not be prosecuted. That’s about as unseemly and an abuse of power as I can imagine.” 

Renato Mariotti (Former U.S. Assistant Attorney): Hur’s Report Represented “Poor Judgement,” “Prosecutors Are Supposed To Be Fair.” 

  • Mariotti reportedly said the commentary on President Biden’s memory in Hur’s report represented “poor judgement,” telling reporters, “Prosecutors are supposed to be fair in how they handle people they are investigating, and I don’t think he [Mr Hur] was here.” 

Preet Bharara (Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York): “That Had No Place In This Document.” 

  • “What I don’t think is correct—and I think the vast majority of legal experts agree with me—is the gratuitous, superfluous statements about his memory…That had no place in this document.” 

Jeffrey Toobin (Former Assistant U.S. Attorney): “It Was Outrageous.” 

  • “It was outrageous that Hur put in some of that stuff in this report. That had no place in it. … There is no reason this report had to be 300 pages. There is no reason this fairly straightforward case had to be treated this way.

Andrew Weissman (Former FBI General Counsel): Hur’s Report Is A “Gratuitous Political Swipe.” 

  • “Of course, no crime was committed by Biden, but as anticipated, Hur takes the opportunity to make a gratuitous political swipe at Biden.” 

Allan Lichtman (Presidential Historian and Professor at American University): “It Is Totally Inappropriate. If This Had Been Done To Any Ordinary Citizen, You Know There Would Be Howls Of Outrage.” 

  • “I have to say this report from the special counsel was a disgrace. If you’re not charging someone, you don’t attack them with your personal opinions, your views, your innuendo. 

Jamie Gorelick (Former Deputy Attorney General): “This Commentary Was Ill-Advised And Gratuitous.”

  • “Hur’s inflammatory characterization served to obscure the important — and, in my analysis, fully justified and well-documented — bottom-line conclusion that there was no basis for prosecuting Biden.
  • A full review of Hur’s report makes clear that charges against President Biden would have been unwarranted and inappropriate.
  • As Hur testifies, let’s not lose track of what matters here. A GOP-appointed prosecutor spent months investigating Biden’s handling of classified documents. He concluded that no charges should be brought, and that Biden’s behavior was markedly different from — and better than — Trump’s. Case closed.”

Barbara McQuade (University of Michigan Law School Law Professor & Former Federal Prosecutor): “To Instead Besmirch His Reputation Struck Me As Going A Bit Above And Beyond What You Would Expect From An Ordinary Prosecutor.” 

  • “‘It would have been sufficient to say that we did not have sufficient evidence that he was acting willfully… To instead besmirch his reputation struck me as going a bit above and beyond what you would expect from an ordinary prosecutor.’”

Matthew Seligman (Legal Scholar at Stanford Law School’s Constitutional Law Center): “All He Should Have Written Is That There Is Insufficient Evidence…” 

  • “What Hur should have written — and all he should have written — is that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that President Biden’s level of intent rose to the willfulness standard required by the statute.”

Mimi Rocah (Former Assistant U.S. Attorney): “Totally Gratuitous.” 

  • “Once Hur said ‘the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,’ he should have stopped. Why is he opining on Biden’s mental state now or in 2024 or 2029? His memory now & those years isn’t relevant to his intent at the time of the crime being investigated. Totally gratuitous.”

Eric Holder (Former U.S. Attorney General): Hur’s Report “Is Flatly Inconsistent With Long Standing DOJ Traditions.”

  • “Special Counsel Hur report on Biden classified documents issues contains way too many gratuitous remarks and is flatly inconsistent with long standing DOJ traditions. Had this report been subject to a normal DOJ review these remarks would undoubtedly have been excised.”

New York Daily News Editorial Board: Cleared And Smeared: Document Case Special Counsel Finds No Crime By Biden But Punishes Him Anyway. 

  • Editorializing is well and good for an editorial page like ours to engage in. A special counsel ought not make such pronouncements; he should deliver a just-the-facts summary of the case at hand, bringing charges or not.” 

Shan Wu, The Daily Beast (Opinion): Special Counsel Robert Hur’s Report on Biden’s Classified Documents Is Partisan and Unprofessional. 

  • Hur’s wording also makes it sound like he believes Biden committed a crime, but he just can’t prove it when his report actually concludes there is a lack of evidence of Biden possessing criminal intent to commit a crime. A report explaining the reasons for declination should be written in a very factual, non-pejorative way. Hur should have simply said that the evidence found in the investigation did not support a recommendation of criminal prosecution, and then gone on to explain what evidence had been evaluated. Again, maybe Hur’s just a lousy writer. But an examination of his analysis belies that benign interpretation.” 

Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post (Opinion): The Biden Special Counsel’s Egregious Abuse Of Power. 

  • “[S]pecial counsel Robert K. Hur made the right choice in concluding that criminal charges are not warranted and in distinguishing Biden’s treatment of classified material from that of former president Donald Trump. The same cannot be said of Hur’s depiction of what he presented as Biden’s enfeebled cognitive condition, ‘a well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.’ The report’s extensive discussions of that issue were not merely gratuitous — they constituted an egregious transgression of prosecutorial boundaries. 
  • But Hur isn’t just a run-of-the-mill Republican — he served as top deputy to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein before becoming U.S. attorney for Maryland. As the Biden special counsel, he chose for his own top deputy another former Trump U.S. attorney, Marc Krickbaum.
  • Prosecutors are supposed to remain above the partisan fray, not embroiled in it. Sometimes such spillover is inevitable. But a responsible prosecutor would have taken care to avoid what Hur has done, which is to let his report become a potent — perhaps even lethal — weapon in the coming campaign.”

Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post (Opinion): Hur’s Political Hatchet Job. Garland’s Blunder. Media Complicity. 

  • “But it was Hur’s gratuitous smear about Biden’s age and memory — most egregiously, his far-fetched allegation that Biden could not recall the date of his son Beau’s death — that transformed a snide report into a political screed. Speculating about how a jury might have perceived the president years after the incidents took place was entirely irrelevant because the lack of evidence meant there would be no case. Former prosecutors were almost uniformly outraged.