House Republicans have reached out to special counsel Robert Hur to discuss having him testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee about his report on President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Hur’s report released last week did not charge the president with a crime, but it painted a picture of a forgetful commander in chief who failed to properly protect highly sensitive classified information – a depiction that could hurt Biden politically and that Republicans have seized on.
Hur has retained Bill Burck, who previously represented special counsel John Durham, as his personal attorney. While there is no date on the calendar, they are looking toward the end of February, one of the sources told CNN. The Justice Department declined to comment.
House Republicans leading the impeachment inquiry also asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to turn over the transcript of the special counsel’s interview with the president in a new letter on Monday. The Republican committee chairs are also asking the Department of Justice to supply Congress with “any recordings, notes, or summaries” of the special counsel’s interview with the president.
Beyond that, Republicans request the Justice Department turn over classified documents related to Ukraine as they continue to attempt to draw connections between Biden’s official actions as vice president and his son’s foreign business dealings at the time.
“There is concern that President Biden may have retained sensitive documents related to specific countries involving his family’s foreign business dealings” House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, Oversight Chair James Comer, and Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith wrote in the letter.
The two special counsels appointed during the Trump presidency, Robert Mueller and Durham, both testified to Congress once they submitted their reports to the Justice Department.
After expressing some reluctance, Mueller agreed to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees in July 2019 about his investigation, delivering halting and stilted responses that mostly stuck to his report.
The negotiations for Mueller’s appearance stretched out for weeks, ultimately leading to an agreement in which he appeared after he was subpoenaed.
Last June, Durham testified to the House Judiciary Committee about his investigation and report into the FBI’s probe into Trump and Russia, and he spoke behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee.
Hur’s special counsel report found that Biden willfully retained classified information, including top secret documents, and knew he was in possession of some documents as far back as 2017. He also shared some of that information with the ghostwriter of his 2017 memoir.
The special counsel decided not to charge the president in the case – primarily because he found that nothing proved a willful intent by Biden to illegally hold onto classified information and the president cooperated with the investigation.
Yet, in a politically damaging line of reasoning, Hur wrote that one reason Biden wasn’t going to be prosecuted was because he would present to a jury as an elderly man “with a poor memory.” Biden’s lawyers objected to the description – calling it “investigative excess” and accusing Hur of flouting Justice Department rules and norms.
The report is sure to become an issue in the 2024 campaign – where Biden’s likely opponent, Donald Trump, is facing criminal charges for his handling of classified material, even though Hur made clear how different the two cases were.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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