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US Prosecutor Defends Biden ‘Poor Memory’ Report to House Panel

Written by on March 12, 2024

The U.S. prosecutor who sparked a political firestorm last month with a report saying President Joe Biden had a “poor memory” appeared before a congressional committee on Tuesday to defend his assessment.

Special Counsel Robert Hur arrived to speak to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, which has been one of the panels conducting an impeachment inquiry into Biden, 81.

“My assessment in the report about the relevance of the President’s memory was necessary and accurate and fair,” Hur said in his prepared opening statement. “I did not sanitize my explanation. Nor did I disparage the President unfairly. I explained to the Attorney General my decision and the reasons for it. That’s what I was required to do.”

A transcript of Hur’s interview with Biden reviewed by Reuters, conducted last October as Biden grappled with the fallout from Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel, showed that the president brought up the issue of his memory first.

“I’m a young man, so it’s not a problem,” Biden, 81, said jokingly to Hur when the prosecutor said he’d be asking questions about events that happened years earlier, the transcript showed.

Hur appears in Congress the week after Biden made a fiery State of the Union speech that signaled an aggressive start to the Democratic president’s reelection campaign, a rematch with Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

Hur’s employment at the Justice Department ended on Monday, the department said.

His report said he would not seek charges against Biden for retaining classified documents after leaving office as vice president in 2017, but drew anger from the White House for its depiction of Biden.

“We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” the report said.

Biden, the oldest person to hold the office of the U.S. president in history, lashed out against the characterization in public remarks, saying his memory was fine, and Vice President Kamala Harris called the report politically motivated.

Trump, 77, is facing multiple criminal prosecutions, including one over his own mishandling of classified documents and is set to face off with Biden in November’s presidential election.

Trump and allies have accused the Justice Department of having a double standard, but prosecutors said Trump actively obstructed their search for the documents and did not cooperate with the investigation into them. Hur said Biden was generally cooperative with the probe.

Hur was appointed as a U.S. attorney by Trump and made special counsel by Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland after Biden’s documents surfaced.

House Republicans have requested underlying documents related to the probe, but have said the Justice Department has not complied.

House Republicans allege that Biden and his family improperly profited from policy decisions Biden participated in as vice president in 2009-17, though they have so far not released any evidence showing that Biden benefited financially. The White House has denied wrongdoing.

House Republicans have invited Biden’s son Hunter Biden to a public hearing on March 20, but it is not clear whether the younger Biden will participate.

 


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