No charges for Biden after Special Counsel probe into improper handling of classified documents

Special Counsel Robert Hur will not recommend criminal charges against President Biden for mishandling classified documents, according to his report after a months-long investigation into the president’s alleged improper retention of classified records. 

Hur has been investigating Biden’s improper retention of classified records since last year. Those records included classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, among other records related to national security and foreign policy which Hur said implicated ‘sensitive intelligence sources and methods.’ 

‘We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter,’ the report states. ‘We would reach the same conclusion even if the Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.’

The special counsel also described Biden as ‘a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.’ 

‘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,’ Hur wrote in the report. ‘Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone from whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt. It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him—by then a former president well into his eighties—of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.’

But Hur said his investigation ‘uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.’

The materials included ‘marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and notebooks containing Mr. Biden’s handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods.’ 

Hur said FBI agents recovered the materials from ‘the garages, offices, and basement den in Mr. Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home.’ 

But Hur said that the evidence ‘does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.’ :

‘Prosecution of Mr. Biden is also unwarranted based on our consideration of the aggravating and mitigating factors set forth in the Department of Justice’s Principles of Federal Prosecution,’ the report states. ‘For these reasons, we decline prosecution of Mr. Biden.’

The White House was given the opportunity to review the report for privilege after Hur initially submitted his report on Feb. 5, and did not seek any redaction to the report. The report was transmitted to Congress Thursday afternoon. 

Damning photos were included in the report — photos that the Biden campaign reportedly feared could have a negative impact on his 2024 re-election bid. 

Classified records were first found inside the Washington, D.C., offices of the Penn Biden Center think tank on Nov. 2, 2022, but only disclosed to the public in early January 2023.

A second stash of classified documents was also found inside the garage of the president’s home in Wilmington in December, but revealed to the public earlier this month, prompting Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint former U.S. Attorney Rob Hur to serve as special counsel.

Days later, additional classified documents were found in the president’s home in Delaware. The FBI conducted a more than 12-hour search of Biden’s Delaware home Friday, seizing additional classified records.

Biden has defended the storing of classified documents in the past.

‘By the way, my Corvette is in a locked garage, so it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street,’ he once said.

In a statement after Special Counsel released the report, Biden said he was ‘pleased to see they reached the conclusion I believed all along they would reach – that there would be no charges brought in this case and the matter is now closed.’

‘This was an exhaustive investigation going back more than 40 years, even into the 1970s when I was a young Senator. I cooperated completely, threw up no roadblocks, and sought no delays. In fact, I was so determined to give the Special Counsel what they needed that I went forward with five hours of in-person interviews over two days on October 8th and 9th of last year, even though Israel had just been attacked on October 7th and I was in the middle of handling an international crisis. I just believed that’s what I owed the American people so they could know no charges would be brought and the matter closed,’ Biden’s statement continued.

‘Over my career in public service, I have always worked to protect America’s security. I take these issues seriously and no one has ever questioned that,’ he added.

But Garland, on Nov. 18, 2022, appointed former DOJ official Jack Smith to serve as special counsel to investigate whether Trump was improperly retaining classified records at Mar-a-Lago.

When Smith was appointed to investigate Trump, Garland and top DOJ officials were simultaneously conducting an internal review of President Biden’s mishandling of classified records. That review, and the discovery of classified records at Biden’s office, was not disclosed to the public until January.

Republicans and allies of former President Trump were outraged, blasting the Justice Department for a double standard.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 felony charges out of Smith’s probe. The charges include willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and false statements.

Trump, the 2024 GOP front-runner, was then charged with an additional three counts as part of a superseding indictment out of Smith’s investigation – an additional count of willful retention of national defense information and two additional obstruction counts. Trump pleaded not guilty.

That trial is set to begin on May 20, 2024. 

Biden’s aides told Axios earlier this week that they are fearful former President Trump’s campaign could use the photos against the Democrat incumbent ahead of their likely 2024 rematch.

Anthony Coley, a former senior adviser to Garland, accused the Biden team of slow-walking discovery in the president’s classified records case, versus the handling of the Trump probe.

‘Against the backdrop of former President Trump’s indictment on charges of willful and deliberate retention of classified documents, the Biden team’s drip, drip, drip of information made the discoveries seem even worse,’ he wrote in an op-ed.

Before Hur’s findings were released, reports suggested the Biden campaign was concerned about potentially embarrassing photos included in Hur’s expected report that could be released as soon as this week.

The campaign was concerned that the images would show how Biden stored classified materials. The classified documents were carried over from Biden’s time as former President Obama’s vice president.

Hur interviewed Biden at the White House – an interview that lasted two days. The White House said the president’s interview with Hur was ‘voluntary.’

Last year, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, who is co-leading the impeachment inquiry against President Biden, began investigating whether the sensitive, classified documents Biden retained involved specific countries or individuals that had financial dealings with Biden family members or their related companies. 

Comer questioned why Biden would have kept certain classified materials and asked Hur to provide his committee with a list of the countries named in any documents with classification markings recovered from Penn Biden Center, Biden’s residence, including the garage, in Wilmington, Delaware, or elsewhere; and a list of all individuals named in those documents with classification markings; and all documents found with classified markings.

It is unclear if Hur cooperated with Comer’s request. 

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