Robert Hur Fends Off Attacks From Democrats, Trump Allies In Marathon House Hearing

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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Special counsel Robert Hur took heat from both Republicans and Democrats Tuesday as he defended his report on President Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.

Hur appeared in front of Congress on Tuesday for nearly five hours to detail his February report, which concluded that charges should not be brought against Biden despite him willfully withholding classified documents. Ahead of the House hearing, most of the discourse surrounding the report had been about Hur’s notes regarding the president’s mental state —  references the White House denounced as “flatly wrong,” “inappropriate” and “politically motivated.”

During the Tuesday hearing, however, Hur faced criticism not only from Democrats, but also from Republicans who argued he should’ve pursued charges against Biden.

“Just so everybody knows, the ghostwriter didn’t just delete the recordings as a matter of happenstance,” Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz began. “Ghostwriter has recordings of Biden making admissions of crimes, he then learns that you’ve been appointed, he then deletes the information that is the evidence, and you don’t charge him.”

Before Hur could finish explaining why he didn’t pursue obstruction charges, Gaetz continued.

“Like, what does somebody have to do to get charged with obstruction of justice by you?” Gaetz asked. “If deleting the evidence of crimes doesn’t count, what would meet the standard?”

Hur answered that the ghostwriter did not delete certain parts of the evidence, which included transcripts.

“Biden and Trump should have been treated equally,” Gaetz added, referring to classified document charges brought against former President Donald Trump. “They weren’t. And that is the double standard I think a lot of Americans are concerned about.”

Trump and his classified document charges were brought up repeatedly throughout the briefing by both parties, with Republicans using the situation to point out an alleged double standard while Democrats emphasized differences between the two cases.

But when Democrats weren’t discussing the former president, they instead hit Hur on his personal political affiliation. Allies of President Biden have characterized Hur as a “MAGA [Make America Great Again] guy,” despite Democrats previously praising the special counsel and how he conducted his work.

In an attempt to smear Hur, Democratic Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson baselessly accused him of doing everything he could during his investigation to re-elect former President Trump.

“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. and yet that is what you tried to offer to them and that’s why they are having you here today. So that they could expand on that narrative. And you knew that was what was going to happen, didn’t you?”

Hur began to answer, but Johnson cut him off, instead asking the special counsel if he was a member of the Federalist Society and a registered Republican. The special counsel denied being apart of the Federalist Society but confirmed that he is a registered Republican.

Johnson pressed Hur further, implying that the comments about Biden’s memory were meant to get Trump elected in hopes that the special counsel would be appointed to a position within the administration.

“Congressman, I have no such aspirations, I can assure you. And I can tell you that partisan politics had no such part what-so-ever in my work. It had no place in the investigative steps that I took. It had no place in the decision that I made. And it had no place in a single word of my report,” Hur responded.

Democratic lawmakers repeatedly harped on the fact that Hur did not bring charges against Biden, though the special counsel made notes in his report that Trump’s offenses were not comparable to the sitting president’s. And in attempt to hit back on the attacks against the president’s memory lapses, several Democratic congressman played montages, one even included in opening statements, of Trump stumbling over his words.

On the other hand, Republicans sought to draw comparisons between the two cases in an effort to demonstrate a double standard in Biden’s Department of Justice.

“If you had the same facts, and the individual that you were investigating was 65 and had a good memory, do you reach the same conclusion?” Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan asked Hur.

“Congressman, as I responded earlier, with these lines, I am not here to entertain hypotheticals about facts or circumstances that may be different,” Hur responded. The special counsel stuck to his report for the entirety of the hearing, as he pledged to do, repeatedly refusing to draw comparisons to the Trump case.

Hur did confirm that the White House made an attempt to persuade the special counsel to water down parts of his report that critiqued the president’s memory.

Just two hours before the hearing, the highly-sought after transcript of Biden and Hur’s interview was leaked. While the corporate media defended Biden’s fitness, claiming that despite several memory lapses the president was clear-minded, the transcript confirmed that the president lied at a recent press conference. The transcript showed that Biden himself brought up his late son Beau’s death, not Hur, as he had previously claimed.

But perhaps the most viral moment of the hearing was when Hur set the record straight on the conclusion of his report.

“This lengthy, expensive and independent investigation resulted in a complete exoneration of President Joe Biden,” Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal began. “For every document you discussed in your report, you found insufficient evidence that the president violated any laws about possession or retention of classified materials.”

“You exonerated him,” the congresswoman continued as she talked over Hur who contested the wording.

“I did not exonerate him,” Hur hit back.

“That word does not appear in the report, congresswoman.”