WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney for Maryland nominated by then-President Donald Trump, will serve as special counsel to investigate the presence of documents with classified markings found at President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware and at an office in Washington.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Hur's appointment Thursday, shortly after Biden acknowledged that a document with classified markings from his time as vice president was found in his personal library, along with other documents found in his garage. Hur is set to begin his work on the investigation soon.
“I am confident that Mr. Hur will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner, and in accordance with the highest traditions of this department,” Garland said.
Hur's appointment comes as the political ramifications surrounding the investigation intensify. The Justice Department has spent months looking into Trump's retention of more than 300 documents with classification markings found at his Florida estate. That discovery sparked outcry from Biden and other top Democrats, while the developments around Biden have drawn sharp criticism from Republicans.
Hur said Thursday that he won’t be swayed by politics.
“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment,” he said in a statement. “I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service.”
Hur is a graduate of Harvard as well as Stanford Law School, and he studied philosophy at King’s College in Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and also for Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Andrew DeVooght, who worked with Hur when they were both law clerks for Rehnquist, called him an “incredibly good person” and said that, although it sounds trite, the public is lucky that someone like Hur is willing to serve in such an important position.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a better combination of brilliance, work ethic and integrity,” DeVooght said.
Hur served as U.S. attorney in Maryland from 2018 to 2021, winning unanimous Senate approval after Trump nominated him. His predecessor in the post was Rod Rosenstein, who held the position for more than a decade before becoming the Justice Department’s No. 2 during the Trump administration.
Hur is taking the job from the top Justice Department prosecutor in Chicago, John Lausch, who was earlier assigned by the department to investigate the matter and who recommended to Garland last week that a special counsel be appointed.
Prior to becoming U.S. attorney, Hur was principal associate attorney general under Rosenstein at the Justice Department. Hur is also a former partner at the Washington law firm King & Spalding, where FBI Director Christopher Wray was once also a partner.
Stephen McBrady, co-chair of the law firm Crowell & Moring LLP’s Government Contracts Group and a longtime friend, called Hur “one of the smartest people in Washington.”
As U.S. attorney, Hur supervised nearly 90 assistant U.S. attorneys and 72 support personnel. His office led the fraud case against former Democratic Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. She was sentenced in 2020 to three years in prison for arranging fraudulent sales of her “Healthy Holly” books to schools, libraries and a medical system to enrich herself, promote her political career and fund her mayoral run.
“The victims are all of us, the taxpayers and the people of Baltimore, who expect and deserve integrity from their public officials,” Hur said when announcing an 11-count indictment against Pugh in 2019.
Hur served on Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's special council on gangs and violent criminal networks for three years until 2021 and chaired the governor's Asian-American Hate Crimes Work Group in 2021.
A member of the University of Maryland System's Board of Regents, Hur is also a partner in the Washington office of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm and co-chairs its crisis management practice group.
Even going back to his time as a law clerk to Rehnquist, from 2002 to 2003, Hur has dealt with high-profile cases. The year he clerked, the high court struck down a Texas statute criminalizing gay sex, a decision Rehnquist dissented from. In another case the court wrestled with a Virginia law banning cross burning.
The court also decided two important cases on affirmative action, ultimately allowing schools to continue considering race in higher education admissions. This year, the court is considering overturning the decision that allowed that, Grutter v. Bollinger. Rehnquist dissented in that 5-4 case.
Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.