A trio of House committees investigating President Biden are asking the Justice Department to turn over transcripts and recordings of his interviews with special counsel Robert Hur following the release of a report critical of Biden’s cognitive abilities while reviewing his handling of classified documents.
The request, sent in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, echoes GOP leaders critical of the Justice Department’s conclusion of the report, complaining Biden received more favorable treatment than that of his 2024 campaign rival, former President Trump.
“The Committee on the Judiciary requires these documents for its ongoing oversight of the Department’s commitment to impartial justice and its handling of the investigation and prosecution of President Biden’s presumptive opponent, Donald J. Trump, in the November 2024 presidential election,” wrote the chairs of the three committees.
They asked for the information by Feb. 19.
The request — from House Oversight and Accountability Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and House Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) — ignores key differences in the two cases.
Trump repeatedly rebuffed law enforcement as it sought the return of classified records stored at his Florida estate, a process that escalated to a subpoena he failed to comply with, resulting in the search of his home and the seizure of more than 300 records with classified markings.
Biden’s team alerted authorities to the discovery of classified records at his prior office and home, and cooperated with the investigation. While critical of him, Hur ultimately concluded there was not enough evidence to support charges that Biden willfully retained the records.
But the report also included numerous comments about Biden’s ability to recall details during the interview, details the Republican leaders are eager to zero in on.
“Although Mr. Hur reasoned that President Biden’s presentation ‘as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory’ who “did not remember when he was vice president’ or ‘when his son Beau died’ posed challenges to proving the President’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the report concluded that the Department’s principles of prosecution weighed against prosecution because the Department has not prosecuted ‘a former president or vice president for mishandling classified documents from his own administration,’” they wrote.
“The one ‘exception’ to the Department’s principles of prosecution, as Mr. Hur noted, ‘is former President Trump.’ This speaks volumes about the Department’s commitment to evenhanded justice.”
The Justice Department confirmed it had received the request but declined to comment on it.
But Democrats even last week predicted Republicans would seek to review Hur’s work.
“MAGA Republicans will no doubt now call to investigate the investigators — it’s their favorite move — but the Hur report effectively ends the discussion. President Biden cooperated fully with the Special Counsel and redacted no portion of the Special Counsel’s report,” House Judiciary ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) wrote last week following the release of the report.
He also added Hur’s report shows that “if Trump had cooperated with the Department of Justice — instead of lying to investigators, again and again,” he may have avoided charges entirely.
House Oversight Democrats on Monday cast the request as yet another in a string of floundering investigations designed to damage Biden.
“Republicans continue to burn millions of taxpayer dollars to fuel Trump’s never-ending demand for lies about the President. Their newest request is more of the same, and in fact follows the Gang of 8 already reviewing every document that was recovered from President Biden last year. The Special Counsel was unequivocal in his statement that there was no comparison between Joe Biden’s conduct and Donald Trump’s,” the committee said in a statement.
The transcripts could provide key fodder for Republicans eager to portray Biden as too old to remain in office.
“Among the most disturbing parts of this report is the Special Counsel’s justification for not recommending charges: namely that the President’s memory had such ‘significant limitations’ that he could not convince a jury that the President held a ‘mental state of willfulness’ that a serious felony requires,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a letter last week.
“A man too incapable of being held accountable for mishandling classified information is certainly unfit for the Oval Office,” they added.
Hur has come under fire from both the White House and former Democratic appointees to the Department of Justice, who said he acted inappropriately in offering excessive commentary about Biden’s memory while explaining the weaknesses in the case that pushed him to decline recommending any charges.
“Special Counsel Hur report on Biden classified documents issues contains way too many gratuitous remarks and is flatly inconsistent with long standing [Justice Department] traditions,” former Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under President Obama, said on social media shortly after the report was released.
“Totally gratuitous. After all, earlier in the report, it says Biden has all sorts of innocent explanations for his behavior,” Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general during the Obama administration, said during an appearance on MSNBC.
“It feels like a too clever move by half by the special counsel to try and take some swipes at a sitting president, and it doesn’t sit well with me at all, and I do think that it is very much in tension with the Justice Department guidelines on special counsels.”
Updated at 10:13 p.m. ET