FLASHBACK: Democrats Had No Problem With Robert Hur Until He Became A Thorn For Joe Biden

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Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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Democrats previously praised special counsel Robert Hur before he became a problem for President Joe Biden after evaluating how he handled classified documents.

Hur issued his report in February on Biden’s handling of classified documents, deciding not to pursue charges against the president. Hur did include several notes about lapses in the president’s memory and his declining mental state, leading to the president’s allies painting Hur as a “MAGA guy” and pointing out that he was a Trump appointee.

Now, with Hur on Capitol Hill testifying about his report Tuesday, the attacks are back.

But before his report became a political liability for the White House, Democrats appeared to have no issue with Hur and never questioned his integrity or competence.

“He’s a true professional,” Democratic Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a Biden ally, told The Washington Post at the time of Hur’s appointment.

“He’s been in this position before; he understands the sensitivity of this position,” Cardin added, noting Hur’s previous work on the Mueller investigation.

Hur was appointed by Biden’s own Attorney General, Merrick Garland, in January of 2023 as special counsel to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents that were found in his Delaware garage and at his office at the Penn Biden Center.

Before Hur was assigned to investigate Biden, Cardin and fellow Democratic Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen praised Hur’s confirmation in 2018 to be the next U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. Hur’s nomination was unanimously approved by senators from both parties.

“Robert Hur’s confirmation is critical to our state and I thank my colleagues for unanimously approving his nomination to be Maryland’s next U.S. Attorney,” Van Hollen previously said in a statement, adding that he was looking forward to working with Hur.

After appointing him as special counsel, Garland said he believed Hur would “carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner.” Hur himself pledged to conduct the investigation with “fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment.”

“I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service,” Hur said in a statement.

Steven A. Silverman, an attorney who previously worked for Democratic Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, described Hur as “no nonsense” to the Washington Post.

“He’s always proven to be a fair-minded, nonpartisan seeker of justice,” Silverman told the outlet. “He’s not going to be politically swayed one way or the other.”

Even MSNBC had nice things to say about Hur just following his appointment — Rachel Maddow’s producer Steve Benen called the special counsel appointee an “experienced Justice Department professional.” Benen argued that Hur’s appointment could be problematic for the GOP because of the quiet and methodical nature of a special counsel investigation rather than a Congressional investigation.

“Here’s the thing to keep in mind: A special counsel investigation, even one led by a former Trump-appointed prosecutor, will very likely uncover the truth. But for GOP leaders and lawmakers, Hur and his team will also act quietly and methodically, failing to share information with Congress, before reaching the likely conclusion that the Democratic president didn’t do anything illegal,” Benen previously wrote. “None of that will pay any political dividends for Republicans.”

“It’s why McCarthy said he and his party didn’t necessarily think today’s step was necessary: If given a choice, the new House speaker would much prefer far-right House committee chairs — I’m looking in your direction Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan — take the lead on this, not an experienced Justice Department professional,” he continued.

Now, after Hur noted that during a five hour interview with the special counsel, Biden appeared to forget several key dates in his lifetime, the White House, Biden’s team and the president’s lawyer have consistently said that Hur is a Republican and marked his report as “flatly wrong,” “inappropriate” and “politically motivated.” During the five hour interview conducted on Oct. 8-9th, Hur noted in his report that the president appeared to forget when he began and ended his vice presidency and the date of his late son’s death. (RELATED: Biden, Not Special Counsel, Reportedly First Brought Up Son’s Death In Interview)

Hur also noted that he had declined to charge Biden, despite finding evidence that he willfully retained documents, because the jury might see Biden as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Hours after the report dropped, Biden gave an unexpected press conference in an attempt to address concerns about his age. In the press conference, the president made several blunders while throwing his staff under the bus for misplacing the classified documents.

Now, all eyes are back on Hur as the president’s fitness for office is expected to be a large part of the testimony. The president gave his State of the Union address Thursday, a moment many allies emphasized as a moment for Biden to show his fitness for office.

“I’m well-meaning, and I’m an elderly man. And I know what the hell I’m doing,” Biden quipped during the February press conference.