Mar 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Robert Hur testimony gives Republicans their Mueller moment

Robert Hur

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Special counsel Robert Hur's investigation into President Biden's handling of classified documents is over, but Republicans aren't going to pass on the opportunity to make the White House pay a political price.

Why it matters: Hur's report didn't conclude criminal charges were warranted, but it did raise political vulnerabilities — namely the president's age and memory — that Republicans are eager to exploit.

What to watch: Hur will testify Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, which is filled with some of the most vocally pro-Trump Republicans in Congress.

Flashback: Top House Republicans once argued that asking former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify at the conclusion of the Trump-Russia investigation was a purely political exercise by Democrats.

  • Mueller, like Hur, did not recommend criminal charges against the sitting president.
  • But his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election did present Democrats with material for political attacks, which Republicans at the time denounced.

What they're saying: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said in 2019 that holding a hearing on the Mueller report was "wasting the American people's time."

  • House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said at the time that despite Mueller finding no conspiracy between Trump and Russia, "nothing will stop Democrats in Congress from trying to get the President at all costs."
  • House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), who has led the Biden impeachment probe, said in 2019 that Democrats' continued focus on the Mueller investigation was part of a "witch hunt."

Reality check: Special counsels frequently testify at the conclusion of their investigations.

The big picture: Republicans hope to keep scrutiny of Biden's memory in the spotlight for as long as possible, with the Hur hearing offering a high-profile opportunity to re-litigate the politically damaging findings.

  • GOP-led committees have demanded the Justice Department turn over any transcripts, video or audio from Biden's interview with Hur, in which the president reportedly couldn't recall certain facts about his life.
  • Hur concluded that a jury would likely view Biden as a "sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory" — drawing furious pushback from the White House.
Go deeper