Mar 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Robert Hur faces bipartisan hostility in fiery House hearing

Former Biden special counsel Robert Hur, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and purple tie, sits at a microphone in front of a large flat screen TV with Rep. Jim Jordan on it.

Former Biden special counsel Robert Hur. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The House Judiciary Committee chamber was brimming with bitterness on Tuesday as former special counsel Robert Hur sat for lawmakers' questions about his final report on President Biden's handling of classified documents.

Why it matters: Members grilled Hur on his decision not to charge Biden while simultaneously disclosing damaging details about his memory — all right at the start of the 2024 campaign season.

Driving the news: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), citing Hur's registration as a Republican, told him, "You're doing everything you can do to get President Trump reelected so that you can get reappointed as a federal judge or perhaps to another position in a Department of Justice."

  • Hur pushed back that he has "no such aspirations" and that "partisan politics had no place whatsoever in ... a single word of my report."
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) slammed Hur for saying he didn't disparage Biden unfairly, arguing the special counsel did so in a way that would have a "maximal political impact."
  • Schiff and Hur got into a back and forth on the issue, with Hur saying the report would have been "incomplete and improper" without details about Biden's memory lapses.

The other side: Republicans got in their fair share of heated questioning, with Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wisc.) calling Hur "part of the Praetorian Guard that guards the swamp out here in Washington, D.C., protecting the elites."

  • Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) drilled down on Hur's conclusion that Biden would have come off to a jury as a "sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."
  • "You could have just said we don't prosecute a sitting president, but you did not," Armstrong said, arguing that Hur's charging decisions don't discount that Biden met "every element of the crime."
  • Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) questioned Hur for saying he lacked evidence to bring charges while also concluding that Biden's memory made him a strong defendant: "If you didn't have the evidence, why do you persist in citing these defenses?" Bentz asked.

Between the lines: Lawmakers in both parties are trying to secure a partisan advantage from Hur's report.

  • Republicans have been open about their desire to build public perceptions of Biden's mental decline by dredging up those details in Hur's report.
  • Democrats have lambasted Hur for including those details and argued that he's a partisan actor, while also pointing to Trump's memory slips and his more serious classified documents case.
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