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Former Special Counsel Hur Testifies on Biden Classified Documents Report. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 12, 2024 - 10:00:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT: It, of course, did not result in charges.

That report, though, and its details of his assessment of the president's memory triggered a whole lot of blowback. Hur is expected to say in his

opening statement that he did not, quote, "disparage" the president unfairly by calling him a, quote, "elderly man with a poor memory."

And while the report concluded Biden did mishandle classified information, Hur said there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Republicans today are expected to grill Hur over Biden's mental fitness. Again, that report, taking it into account, calling his memory

significantly limited and hazy at times.

You're looking here at pictures of him appearing -- arriving, rather, on Capitol Hill a short time ago. White House officials have pushed back since

this report came out, calling Hur's claims about the president's memory inappropriate and incorrect.

CNN has also learned that they are planning a real-time, rapid-response, fact-checking operation during Hur's testimony today. Let's bring in now

our panel as we wait for this event to begin. Michael Zeldin back with us as well as CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. He's also of

course, senior editor at "The Atlantic."

Ron, what are you going to be watching for?

We have a sense of what Robert Hur would like to talk about. He doesn't want to talk about anything beyond the scope of his report. Good luck with

that. I'm sure the questioners will do their very best to push him out of that arena.

We know what to expect from Republicans; Democrats have a bit of a delicate dance though here.


I think obviously it's going to focus, I think, more on the president's mental acuity than on the actual issue he was appointed to address, his

handling of classified documents.

I have not personally read the transcripts that "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" obtained this morning. But reading the coverage of

them, which was rather detailed, it's not clear there's much beyond what's in the report that that can be damaging to Biden.

It was damaging; the age issue is damaging with or without the Hur report to begin with. But the reality is that I believe the damage has essentially

been done. I mean, we're talking about 75 percent or 80 percent of the country think that Biden is too old for another term.

And yet he is basically neck and neck with Trump, which shows you kind of the underlying dynamics of this election, where you have two candidates

that people have a lot of reservations about.

So I'll be interested to see if this changes the political dynamic in any way. Based on the transcripts that were released, I think the early answer

is it likely will not. But we'll see what Hur -- how Hur performs under questions.

HILL: There has been also a lot of pushback, as we know, about these findings in the report, the decision not to charge President Biden,

compared to the decision, of course, that the former president now facing more than 30 charges.

And that was also addressed in the report. So Robert Hur noting specifically the differences that he saw in these two investigations, in

the handling of the documents by the former president. And of course, this was when Joe Biden was the former vice president.

Writing that Mr. Trump not only refused to return documents for months but also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then

lie about it.

Michael, how much of that do you expect we will hear today, both an effort to talk about whether there is an apples-to-apples comparison between the

two investigations and the handling of documents by Biden and Trump and also Hur's assessment.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that'll prominently feature in this because both men, according to the prosecutors, in each

case, mishandled documents purposefully and shared it willingly.

And so you'd think there's an apples-to-apples type of comparison in respect to the mishandling part of this investigation. The principle

(INAUDIBLE) that which led to the charges against Trump and not against Biden was the obstructive behavior.

I think, had Trump returned the documents in the same way that Biden returned them, he would not have been charged. But when he obstructed the

investigation, it put the prosecutors in an untenable position and required them to bring criminal charges.

And I think that we'll hear, from the Democrats, apples to oranges and from the Republicans, apples (ph) to apples with a different standard and,

therefore, Trump is being persecuted and that whole mantra of Trump is being singled out for political purposes because he's the principal

opponent, blah, blah, blah.

Will be what we hear a lot of.

HILL: Michael, if you were, let's, let's pretend for a minute, that you were there -- oh, that looks like Chairman Jordan may be starting to speak.

We're going to continue to monitor as we wait for this hearing to begin.

I think we're going to go ahead and listen in.



HILL (voice-over): See there, the House Judiciary Committee just pledging allegiance to the flag before starting --

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): -- Ranking Member Raskin will be --

HILL (voice-over): -- this session right now. You're looking right now at the chairman, of course, Jim Jordan and looks like we are now starting. So

let's again listen in. Again, this hearing with former special counsel Robert Hur about his report on President Biden's handling of classified

documents, the decision not to charge him.

JORDAN: -- 2023. He had a fundamental question to address.

Did Joe Biden unlawfully retain classified information?

The answer, yes, he did. Page one of Mr. Hur's report he says this.

"Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when

he was a private citizen."

He further writes, "Mr. Biden willfully retained marked classified documents about Afghanistan and handwritten notes in his notebooks, which

he stored in unsecure places in his home."

Joe Biden kept classified information and Joe Biden failed to store classified information properly. Mr. Hur made these determinations after

interviewing witnesses and looking through emails, text messages, videos, phone records and other materials from both classified and unclassified


But there is more. Joe Biden not only kept information he was not allowed to keep and not only failed to secure that information properly but he also

shared it with people who were not allowed to see it. He shared that information with his ghostwriter.

And, remember, this is information that only individuals with a security clearance are supposed to see. Mr. Hur told us on the 200th page of his

report that it is the kind of information that, quote, "risks serious damage to America's national security."

And what did Joe Biden have to say about all this?

What was his explanation?

On page 94 of Mr. Hur's report, Joe Biden said he took his notebooks with him after his vice presidency because, quote, "they are mine. And every

president before me has done the same exact thing."

Never mind the fact he had never been president when he took this information but what comes through is Joe Biden felt he was entitled. You

can almost hear it. You can feel the arrogance in his statement, "They are mine."

But even with all that, Mr. Hur chose not to bring charges because, quote, "Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did in our

interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."

A forgetful old man who Mr. Hur said did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended

and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term as vice president began.

Mr. Hur produced a 345-page report but, in the end, it boils down to a few key facts. Joe Biden kept classified information. Joe Biden failed to

properly secure classified information. And Joe Biden shared classified information with people he was not supposed to.

Joe Biden broke the law. And because he is a forgetful old man who would appear sympathetic to a jury, Mr. Hur chose not to bring charges.

Mr. Hur, we think it is important that you be able to respond to President Biden's response to your report.

So we will provide a short video of Mr. Biden's press conference after your report was released, because there are things in this press conference that

the President of the United States says that are directly contradicted by what you found in your report.

So if we can play that video.




BIDEN: Let me say a few things before I take questions. As you know, the special counsel has released its findings today about -- they are looking

into my handling of classified documents.

QUESTION: President Biden, something special counsel said in its report is one of the reasons you were not charged is because in his description, you

are a well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.


BIDEN: I am well-meaning and I am a elderly man and I know what the hell I am doing. I am president and I have put this country back on its feet. I

don't need these recommendations --


QUESTION: -- how bad is your memory and can you continue as president?

BIDEN: My memory is so bad I let you speak.

That's the -- that's --

QUESTION: Your memory has gotten worse, Mr. President?

BIDEN: My memory is not -- my memory fine. My memory -- take a look at what I have done since I've become president. Nobody thought I could pass

any of the things I got passed.

How did that happen?

You know, I guess I just forgot what was going on.


Mr. President. Mr. President.


(INAUDIBLE) and do you fear this report is only going to fuel further concerns (INAUDIBLE)?

BIDEN: Only by some of you.

(CROSSTALK) Mr. President. Mr. President. Mr. President.

QUESTION: -- you take responsibility for being careless with classified material?

BIDEN: I take responsibility for not having seen exactly what my staff was doing as it goes in and it goes out, things that appeared in my garage,

things that came out of my home and things that were not moved, not by me but my staff -- by my staff.


QUESTION: For months when you were asked about an age, you would respond with the words, "Watch me."

Well, many American people have been watching and they have expressed concerns about your age.


BIDEN: That is your judgment. That is your judgment. That is not the judgment of the press.

QUESTION: -- about your mental acuity. They say that you are too old. Mr. President, in December, you told me that you believe there are many other

Democrats who could defeat Donald Trump.

So why does it have to be you now?

What is your answer --

BIDEN: Because I am the most qualified person in this country to be President of the United States and finish the job I started.


QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you refusing the names of your leaders -- ?

BIDEN: I did not share classified information. I did not share it with my ghostwriter, I did not. Guarantee I did not.


BIDEN: No, I did not say that.


QUESTION: But, Mr. President --


BIDEN: Let me answer your question. The fact of the matter is what I did not want repeated I did want him to know, I did not read it to him, was I

had written a long memorandum to President Obama why we should not be in Afghanistan, and I was -- multiple pages.

And so what I was referring to, I said classified, I should have said it was -- should be private because it was a contact between the president and

the vice president as to what was going on. That's what he was referring to. It was not classified information in that document. That was not --


QUESTION: He called on me (ph).

When you look back on this incident, is there any think you would do differently now?

And do you think that a special prosecutor should have been appointed in the first place in both of these cases?

BIDEN: First of all, what I would have done is oversee the transfer of the material that was in my office -- in my offices. I should have done that.

If I look, I go back -- I did not have the responsibility to do that. That was -- my staff was supposed to do that.

And they referenced that in the report. And my staff did not do it in the way that -- for example, I did not know how half the boxes got in my garage

until I found out staff gathered them up, put them together and took them into the garage in my home.

And all of the stuff that was in my home was in filing cabinets that were either locked or able to be locked. It was in my house. It wasn't out in

like in Mar-a-Lago in a public place where -- and none of it was high classified. It did not have any of that red stuff on it, you know what I

mean? Around the corners?

None of that. And so I wish I had paid more attention to how the documents were being moved and where. I thought they were being moved to the

Archives. I thought all of it was being moved. That is what I thought.

Now what was the last part of your question?

QUESTION: Whether a special counsel should have been appointed in this case and in the case of your rival president, former president --

BIDEN: I think a special counsel should have been appointed. And the reason I think a special counsel should have been appointed is because I

did not want to be in a position that they looked at Trump and (INAUDIBLE) to me, just like they looked at the vice president.

And the fact is that they made a firm conclusion. I did not break the law. Period. Thank all you very much.


BIDEN: The hostage negotiation, look. (INAUDIBLE) I am of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza -- in the Gaza Strip -- has

been over the top.


BIDEN: I think that, as you know, initially, the president of Mexico, Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to

get in. I talked to him. I convinced him to open the gate, let -- make them part of the Middle East and recognize them fully and return for certain

things that the United States would commit to do.

And the commitment that we were proposing to do related to two items. I am not going to go into detail. But one of them was to deal with the

protection against their archenemy to the northwest -- northeast, I should say.

The second one, by providing ammunition and material for them to defend themselves. Coincidentally, that is the timeframe when this broke out. I

have no proof of what I am about to say but it is not unreasonable to suspect that the Hamas understood what was about to take place and wanted

to break it up before it happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you everybody.

We are going to get everybody to hold for a moment.


JORDAN: The chair now recognizes the ranking member, Mr. Nadler, for an opening statement.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Mr. Chairman, I am glad you have such information, have such admiration for the

president that you allowed him to take the first 10 minutes of this hearing.

Mr. Chairman, House Republicans may be desperate to convince America that white, conservative men are on the losing end of a two-tiered justice

system, a theory that appears to the MAGA crowd that has no basis in reality.

But your comments today made me wonder if you have read the special counsel's report at all. The Hur report does help us to draw a distinction

between President Biden and Donald Trump. It's not the one you want, true distinctions actually.

First, the report is clear that, quote, "at no point did the special counsel find evidence that Mr. Biden intended or had reason to believe that

the information will be used to injure (ph) the United States with the benefit of foreign nation," close quote.

With respect to the classified documents found in President Biden's possession, quote, "the decision to decline criminal charges was

straightforward," close quote.

And with respect to the special counsel's investigation, quote, "Mr. Biden turned in classified documents to the National Archives and the Department

of Justice; consented to the search of multiple locations, including his homes; sat for a voluntary interview and in other ways cooperated with the

investigation," close quote.

President Biden acted responsibly, cooperated completely and the decision to decline criminal justice -- to decline criminal charges was relatively

straightforward. In short, to borrow a phrase from the last administration, the Hur report represents the complete and total exoneration of President


And how does that record contrast with president Trump, the documents he retained and the criminal charges pending against him in Florida?

We know that Trump deliberately took large amounts of classified information from the White House. He has admitted as much, occasionally

pretending that he classified this information without telling anyone on his way out the door.

We know that he stored that information around Mar-a-Lago in the craziest of places -- on the ballroom stage, spilled across the floor of an unlocked

closet, next to the toilet. We know that he showed classified military plans to an author interviewing him at Bedminster..

Quote, "As president, I could have declassified it," Trump says on the audio recording.

"Now I can't, you know, but this is still a secret. Still a secret," close quote. So much for the declassification theory. We know from the indictment

that Trump is alleged to have had shared these classified documents with many other visitors to Mar-a-Lago.

And we know that, despite this outrageous conduct, the Department of Justice gave Trump every opportunity to avoid criminal charges.

Again, in the special counsel's words,, quote, "after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump

allegedly did the opposite.

"He not only refused to return the documents for many months but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie

about it," close quote.

Why did the president charge former president Trump but not President Biden?

Not because of some vast conspiracy, not because of the so-called deep state was out to get him but because former president Trump was

fundamentally incapable of taking advantage of even one of the many, many chances he was given to avoid those charges.


Which brings me to the second distinction this report helps us draw between President Biden and Donald Trump.

Simply put, President Biden had the mental acuity to navigate this situation. Donald Trump did not. Much has been made of the special

counsel's gratuitous comments about the President Biden's age. But let's set the context.

After returning every classified document, after opening his home to federal investigators while simultaneously managing the first hours of the

crisis in Israel, President Biden volunteered to sit through a five-hour interview with the special counsel.

I believe, as is his habit, that President Biden probably committed a verbal slip or two during the interview. And I am not sure any of that

matters because when, the interview was over, Mr. Hur completely exonerated President Biden.

And then there is Donald Trump.

What kind of man bungles not one but dozens of opportunities to avoid criminal liability?

What must that say about his mental state?

Here, too, the record speaks for itself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the great memories of all time

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: James Webb. I don't remember the names. Don't remember the -- Viktor Orban.

Did anyone ever hear of him?

He is the leader of Turkiye.

By the way they never retort the crowd on January 6th. You know, Nikki Haley -- Nikki Haley is in charge of security.

Three years lady - lair -- lately, how about that?

QUESTION: Did you actually have a one-on-one with Comey then?

TRUMP: Not much. Not even that I remember.

I like besitos (ph).

We have languages coming into our country we have nobody that even speaks those languages. They are truly foreign languages. Nobody speaks them.

Saudi Arabia and Russia, we'll repecue (ph) Call (ph).

I have a really good memory.

QUESTION: Your next wife was a woman by the name of Marla Maples.

TRUMP: Correct.

QUESTION: Do you recall what years you were married to Ms. Maples?

TRUMP: Umm ...

It is called like up here and it's called memory and it's called other things.

QUESTION: You don't remember saying you have one of the best memories in the world?

TRUMP: I don't remember that.

And Putin has so little respect for Obama that he is starting to throw around the nuclear war term. You've heard that, nuclear.

We have to win in November or we're not going to have Pennsylvania. They will change the name.

I talked to Putin a lot.


QUESTION: Did you ask him that?

TRUMP: I don't remember that. I saw that this morning. I don't remember asking about --

I have a good memory and all that stuff, like a great memory.

For 20 years they were fighting ISIS. I defeated ISIS in four weeks.

And we did it with Obama. We won an election that everyone said couldn't be won.

Nemnot kai b'diddly (ph) and you know what? When I am, you are going to show it (ph). You're going to be the first bleep (ph).

I know my people. You'll say, all right, Trump, you did a good job. Get the hell out of here. That's it.


NADLER: That is a man who is incapable of avoiding criminal liability, a man who is wholly unfit for office and who a man -- and a man who, at the

very least, ought to think twice before accusing others of cognitive decline.

Thank you for being here today, Mr. Hur. Thank you for illuminating a stark choice for this country in the months -- in the months to come. I look

forward to your testimony and I yield back.

JORDAN: The gentleman yields back.

The chair now recognizes the chairman of the Oversight Committee, Mr. Comer, for an opening statement.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Thank you.

In August 2022, President Biden questioned in a "60 Minutes" interview how anyone can be that irresponsible when asked about classified documents in

the possession of former president Trump.

But when President Biden said this, he knew that he had stashed classified materials in several unsecured locations for years, dating back to his time

as vice president and even as a U.S. Senator.

President Biden, the White House and his personal attorneys have not been honest with the American people about his willful retention of classified

material and continue to hide information from Congress.

President Biden's attorneys claimed to have discovered classified material at Penn Biden Center on November 2nd, 2022. However, President Biden and

his lawyers kept it secret from the American people before the midterm elections.

CBS News broke the story in January 2023, leaving Americans to wonder if the White House had any intention of ever disclosing that President Biden

hoarded classified documents for years.

One of my first actions after becoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee was to launch an investigation to President Biden's mishandling

of classified documents. This investigation started before special counsel Hur was named.

And what we found is alarming. Information obtained through multiple transcribed interviews conducted by the Oversight Committee contradict the

White House's and President Biden's personal attorneys' narrative about the discovery of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center.


In fact, the real timeline began in the spring of 2021, not November 2022 as the White House claimed.

Additionally, the classified documents were not kept in a locked closet as asserted by the White House.

We've also learned that five White House employees and a Department of Defense employee were involved in the early stages of coordinating the

organizing, moving and removing of boxes that were later found that contained classified materials.

There is no reasonable explanation as to why so many White House employees were concerned with retrieving boxes they believed only contained personal

documents and materials.

Why did President Biden keep these specific documents in unsecured locations for years?

Many questions remain. But now the White House is obstructing Congress as we seek the truth for the American people. We've subpoenaed former White

House counsel Dana Remus to appear for a deposition to provide information to our committee. But the White House is seeking to block her testimony.

We have also subpoenaed the Department of Justice for audio recordings and transcripts of President Biden's interview with special counsel Hur. These

were due the morning of the State of the Union.

Only this morning, a couple of hours before today's hearing, the Department of Justice finally provided the transcript of President Biden's interview

with special counsel Hur. The timing is not coincidental.

Although we have had little time to review the transcripts from what we have seen it is clear that the White House did not want special counsel

Hur's final report to be released.

The White House has refused to be transparent with the American people about the president's mishandling of classified documents and, worse, they

have appeared to have lied about the timeline, about who handled the documents and even about the contents of President Biden's interview with

special counsel Hur.

That is why today's hearing is important. Transparency is what we seek today. And we look forward to special counsel Hur's testimony.

I yield back.

JORDAN: The gentleman yields back. The chair now recognizes the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, Mr. Raskin, for his opening statement.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Thank you, Chairman Jordan.

There are just three basic points that all Americans need to understand about Mr. Hur's report.

Number one, the special counsel exonerates President Biden.

The very first line of the report says it all, quote, "We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter. We would reach the same

conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president."

Second, the report establishes that President Biden offered complete and unhesitating cooperation with the special counsel's investigation. The

Justice Department and National Archives were proactively notified of the classified documents and they were turned over.

The president allowed the FBI to search his homes and he sat a voluntary interview for more than five hours on October 8th and October 9th, even as

he was busy responding to Hamas' vicious terrorist attack in Israel.

The report thus demonstrates President Biden's complete devotion to the rule of law and his respect for a fair and independent Department of

Justice. President Biden did not assert executive privilege or claim absolute immunity for presidential crimes.

He did not hide boxes of documents under his bed or in a bathtub. He did not fight investigators nor did he seek to redact a single word of Mr.

Hur's report. He consented to the search of numerous locations, including his homes, and he did everything he could to cooperate, not obstruct.

Third, special counsel Hur repeatedly emphasizes that President Biden's conduct contrasts sharply with that of former president Trump.

Hur observes that, unlike President Biden,, quote, "the allegations set forth in the indictment of Mr. Trump if proven would clearly establish not

only Mr. Trump's willfulness but also serious aggravating factors."

He sets, fourth, of these points of difference in detail, quote, "Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents

and avoid prosecution, Trump allegedly did the opposite.

"According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for months but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy

evidence and then to lie about it," unquote.

He returned only a portion of subpoenaed documents and deliberately withheld the rest. Unlike President Biden, Trump did not alert the National

Archives or DOJ of the documents nor did he turn over all the classified materials in his possession.

He did not agree to sit down for a voluntary interview with the special counsel. He never consented to a search of his home. On the contrary, Trump

suggested that his attorney hide or destroy evidence requested by the FBI and the grand jury.


Trump carefully instructed his aide to move boxes of classified documents to hide them from the FBI. Trump tried to delete incriminating security

tape footage from Mar-a-Lago.

And he got his attorney to provide a false certification to the FBI, saying he had produced all the documents in his possession. He did not.

Given this report is so damning and the contrast between Biden and Trump, it is hard for me to see why our colleagues think that this hearing

advances their flailing and embarrassing quest to impeach the President of the United States.

What America sees today is evidence of one president who believes in the rule of law and works to protect it and one who has nothing but contempt

for the rule of law and acts solely in pursuit of his own constantly multiplying corrupt schemes.

I yield back.

JORDAN: Gentleman yields back.

Without objection, all of our opening statements will be included in the record. We will not introduce today's witness.

The Honorable Robert Hur was appointed as special counsel in January 2023 to investigate the removal and retention of classified documents discovered

at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

He previously served as the principal associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice and as the United States attorney for the

District of Maryland. He was a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehmquist and also clerked for Judge Alex Kaczynski on the Ninth Circuit

Court of Appeals.

We welcome our witness and thank him for appearing today.

We'll begin by swearing you in, Mr. Hur.

Would you please stand, raise your right hand?

Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true and correct to the best of your knowledge,

information and belief, so help you God?

Let the record reflect that the witness has answered in the affirmative. Thank you. And you can be seated. Please know that your written testimony

will be entered into the record in its entirety. Accordingly, we ask that you summarize your testimony.

Mr. Hur, you may begin with your opening statement.

Make sure you have got that mic on if you could, Mr. Hur, thank you.


Chairman Jordan, Ranking Member Nadler, Chairman Comer, Ranking Member Raskin, members of the committee, good morning.

I am privileged to have served our country for the majority of my career, a 1.5 decades, most of those years with the Department of Justice. I have

served as a line prosecutor, a supervisor, the principal associate deputy attorney general, a United States attorney and a special counsel.

I have served in these roles with gratitude as the son of immigrants to this country, the first member of my family to be born here. My parents

grew up in Korea and were young children during the Korean War. My father remembers being hungry and grateful for the food that American GIs shared

with him and his siblings.

My mother fled what is now North Korea in her own mother's arms, heading south to safety. My parents eventually met, married and came to the U.S.

seeking a better life for themselves and for their children.

Their lives and mine would have been very different were it not for this country. No matter the role, no matter the administration, I have applied

the same standards and the same impartiality.

My respect for the Justice Department and my commitment to this country are why I agreed to serve as special counsel when asked by the attorney

general. I resolve to do my work as I do all my work for the department, fairly, thoroughly and professionally, with close attention to the policies

and practices that govern department prosecutors.

My team and I conducted a thorough, independent investigation. We identified evidence that the president willfully retained classified

materials after the end of his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.

This evidence included an audio recorded conversation during which Mr. Biden told his ghostwriter that he had,, quote, "just found all the

classified stuff downstairs," end quote.

When Mr. Biden said this, he was a private citizen speaking to his ghostwriter in his private rental home in Virginia. We also identified

other recorded conversations during which Mr. Biden read classified information aloud to his ghostwriter.

We did not however, identify evidence that rose to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the evidence fell short of that

standard, I declined to recommend criminal charges against Mr. Biden.

The department's regulations required me to write a confidential report explaining my decision to the attorney general. I understood that my

explanation about this case had to include rigorous, detailed and a thorough analysis.

In other words, I needed to show my work, just as I would expect any prosecutor to show his or her work explaining this decision to prosecute or

not. The need to show my work was especially strong here.


The attorney general had appointed me to investigate the actions of the attorney general's boss, the sitting President of the United States. I knew

that, for my decision to be credible, I could not simply announce that I recommended no criminal charges and leave it at that. I needed to explain


My report reflects my best effort to explain why I declined to recommend charging President Biden.

I analyzed the evidence as prosecutors routinely do by assessing its strengths and weaknesses, including by anticipating the ways in which the

president's defense lawyers might poke holes in the government's case if there were a trial and seek to persuade jurors that the government could

not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

There has been a lot of attention paid to language in the report about the president's memory. So let me say a few words about that.

My task was to determine whether the president retained or disclosed national defense information willfully. That means knowingly and with the

intent to do something that the law forbids. I could make that determination without assessing the president's state of mind.

For that reason, I had to consider the president's memory and overall mental state and how a jury likely would perceive his memory and mental

state in a criminal trial. These are the types of issues that prosecutors analyze every day.

And because these issues were important to my ultimate decision, I had to include a discussion of them in my report to the attorney general. The

evidence and the president himself put his memory squarely at issue.

We interviewed the president and asked him about his recorded statement, quote, "I just found all the classified stuff downstairs," end quote. He

told us that he did not remember saying that to his ghostwriter.

He also said he did not remember finding any classified material in his home after his vice presidency and he did not remember anything about how

classified documents about Afghanistan made their way into his garage.

My assessment in the report about the relevance of the present's memory was necessary and accurate and fair. Most importantly, what I wrote is what I

believe the evidence shows and what I expect jurors would perceive and believe.

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 is what I was required to do.

I took the same approach when I compared the evidence regarding President Biden to the department's allegations against former president Trump.

There, too, I called it like I saw it.

As a prosecutor I had to consider relevant precedents and to explain why different facts justified different outcomes. That is what I did in my


I am confident the analysis set forth in chapters 11, 12 and 13 in my report provides a thorough evaluation and explanation of the evidence and I

encourage everyone to read it to inform their opinions of the report.

Prosecutors rarely write public reports or testify about their investigations. That is the Justice Department's long-standing policy and

it protects important interests. My team and I prepared the report to the attorney general with care and the report stands as the primary source of


My responses today will be limited to clarifying information for the committee. I will refrain from speculating or commenting on areas outside

the scope of the investigation nor will I discuss what investigative steps we did or did not take beyond what is in the report.

In conclusion, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the attorneys, agents, analysts and professional staff who helped us do our work fairly,

thoroughly and independently. I am grateful and privileged to have served with them.

I single out for particular thanks deputy special counsel Mark Kirkbaum (ph), a former United States attorney himself, who brought great wisdom,

skill and judgment to our task. Thank you. I welcome your questions.

JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Hur. The chair now recognizes the gentleman from North Dakota for five minutes.

REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-ND): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

How could that possibly happen?

How could anyone be that irresponsible?

And I thought what data was in there that could compromise sources, methods and it is just totally irresponsible. As President Biden's statement about

Donald Trump and the classified documents.

Mr. Hur, classified documents were found at the Penn Biden Center?

HUR: That is correct.

ARMSTRONG: They were found in President Biden's garage?

HUR: In Wilmington, Delaware, yes.

ARMSTRONG: And in his basement then?

HUR: Also in the same home, yes.

ARMSTRONG: In the -- his main floor office?

HUR: Correct.

ARMSTRONG: And his third floor den?

HUR: Correct.

ARMSTRONG: At the University of Delaware?

HUR: Correct.

ARMSTRONG: And at the Biden Institute.

HUR: Correct.

ARMSTRONG: All right.

And the elements of the crime for this -- and we caught -- and we get into all of this. But the elements of the crime are pretty simple, right?

The president -- President Biden had unauthorized possession of a document, writing or note. That's correct.


HUR: Correct.

ARMSTRONG: And that the document writing or note related to national defense.

HUR: Correct.

ARMSTRONG: And that the defendant -- and we may talk about the willfully part here in a second -- retained the document, writing or note and failed

to deliver it to an employee or officer entitled to receive it.

HUR: Correct. There is a willfulness intent element, as you say.

ARMSTRONG: And but those are the elements of the crime.

HUR: Including the intent element, yes.

ARMSTRONG: And there are at least two different quotes, right, where he told his ghostwriter -- and this is in your report in a matter of fact --

and this is February 16, 2017 -- that he had just found all this classified stuff downstairs.

HUR: He did make that statement that was captured on an audio recording.

ARMSTRONG: And on April 10th, 2017, Biden read aloud a classified passage related to a top 2015 meeting in the Situation Room.

HUR: That is in the report, yes.

ARMSTRONG: And these are national security documents, Afghanistan, I mean, has been mentioned in a whole bunch of those things, right?

HUR: Correct.

ARMSTRONG: And at one point in time, his personal attorneys and the DOJ attorneys argued about notes, taking all of the different things and

compared it to Reagan (ph).

HUR: I'm sorry.

Could you repeat that, Congress man?

ARMSTRONG: President Biden's attorneys, personal attorneys, talked about the notes and why they did not actually account for the Presidential

Records Act. But you -- I mean, you found that argument -- I -- in your report, it seems a little persuasive.

But you eventually said no, the executive order trumps, right?

HUR: We did -- we did set forth an analysis of the governing law and ultimately concluded that the executive order 13526 does apply and did

govern former vice President Biden at the time.

ARMSTRONG: So you have audio recording from his ghostwriter where the president acknowledges that the information he has is classified and he is

sharing with his ghostwriter.

HUR: We have an audio recording capturing a statement from Mr. Biden, saying to his ghostwriter in February 2017, quote, "I just found all the

classified stuff downstairs," end quote.

ARMSTRONG: And then again reciting passages from a meeting in the Situation Room?

HUR: Yes.

ARMSTRONG: And those are in President Biden's own words?

HUR: Correct.

ARMSTRONG: Right so he's -- the ghostwriter has no classified -- he has no clearance, no classified clearance to anything, correct?

HUR: That is our understanding that Mr. Zweitzer (ph) was not authorized to receive classified information.

ARMSTRONG: OK. So the elements are possessed documents, the documents related to national defense and willfully retained those documents and, in

this case, shared them with someone who was not allowed to receive them.

HUR: There are different subsections of 18 USC 793. One subsection relates to the willful retention and another relates to disclosure of national

defense information.

ARMSTRONG: Well, I mean, the willful retention, we've got the Penn Biden Center, the garage, the basement dent, the main floor office, the third

floor den, the University of Delaware, the Biden Institute.

We have a 50 year career of a person who has not been very great at dealing with classified documents, even prior to his time as vice president when he

was in the U.S. Senate, correct?

HUR: We do address each of those sets of documents in the report, Congress man.

ARMSTRONG: So the difference -- but I think this is really important because the difference is it appears, just from reading the report, he has

been -- we have heard all about exonerated and all those different things.

It appears from the report he met every actual element of the crime. So I want to talk about the department principles on federal prosecution,

because that actually has nothing to do with the underlying elements, correct?

It is whether or not you can prove this at trial?

HUR: Under the department's justice manual and principles of federal prosecution, a prosecutor has to assess the evidence and determine whether,

in his or her judgment, the likely and the probable outcome will be a conviction in a trial.

ARMSTRONG: So whether or not you meet the elements of the crime, which I think it's clear that it does, the second part of this is this. And that is

where it gets into the sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.

You could have just said we don't prosecute sitting presidents but you did not. And you entered as, but that does not have anything to do with the

actual elements of the crime. That has to do with getting a conviction at trial. Correct?

HUR: Well, Congress man, part and parcel of a prosecutor's judgment as to whether a conviction is the probable outcome at trial is assessing how the

evidence identified during the investigation lines up with the elements and what proof can be offered to a jury during a trial.

ARMSTRONG: Sure. But his well-meaning, elderly old man has nothing to do with the underlying elements of the crime.

HUR: Well, it certainly has something --


ARMSTRONG: Presentation to the jury.

HUR: It certainly has something --

ARMSTRONG: I yield back.

JORDAN: The gentleman can respond.

HUR: It certainly has something to do with the way that a jury is going to perceive and receive and consider and make conclusions based on evidence at

trial, congressman.

JORDAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The chair now recognizes the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler.

NADLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Hur, in your written testimony, you say that you found some evidence that the president might have willfully retained classified materials at

the end of his vice presidency, correct?

HUR: Correct.

NADLER: But ultimately you concluded that you could not prove that charge in a court of law.


In your words, you, quote, "did not identify evidence that rose to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," close quote, correct?

HUR: That was my judgment.

NADLER: You've been a prosecutor for a long time, Mr. Hur.

Would you agree that there is no such thing as either a little bit charged for a crime?

You are either charged or you're not, correct?

HUR: Could you please repeat the question, congressman?

NADLER: Would you agree that there is no such thing as being a little bit charged for a crime?

You are either charged or you're not charged, correct?

HUR: Yes, it is binary. Either one is not charged --

NADLER: Thank you.

HUR: -- or charged.

NADLER: So just to be clear, because so many people have taken your words out of context, your ultimate conclusion was that President Biden could

not be charged because even after your thorough investigation, you could not find sufficient evidence to charge him.


HUR: My conclusion was that, based on my evaluation of the evidence --


NADLER: -- that's correct?

HUR: I am sorry, Congress man. I did not hear the last question.

NADLER: I said, based on your conclusion, your ultimate conclusion is that President Biden could not be charged with a crime because, even after your

thorough investigation, you could not find sufficient evidence to charge him.

Correct or not correct?

HUR: My ultimate conclusion was that criminal charges were not warranted.

NADLER: Correct. Now let's talk about one -- I have limited time. So please, when I say correct or not correct, answer the question.

Now let's talk about why, in sharp contrast to President Biden, president Trump faces 40 charges related to the unlawful retention of highly

classified documents. That is of course apart from the additional 51 counts in cases alleging that he incited a rebellion and lied about his finances.

You found that President Biden reported the possible classified documents in his possession to the FBI as soon as he learned of them. Correct?

HUR: There was a voluntary disclosure by the president's counsel to authorities relating to the discovery of classified documents (INAUDIBLE) -



NADLER: Let's contrast this with president Trump.

Are you aware that the FBI only learned that Trump was in possession of classified material after the National Archives discovered them?

HUR: Congress man, I'm not imminently (ph) familiar with the facts relating to former president Trump and not prepared to comment on them to

the extent that I addressed them in the report.


NADLER: OK. You write in your report that President Biden, quote, "would not have handled the government classified documents from his own home on a

silver platter if he had willfully retained those documents for years," close quote.

In other words, part of understanding President Biden's intent was that he quickly and voluntarily returned those documents to the government.


HUR: That was a factor in our analysis, yes.

NADLER: Thank you.

By way of contrast, to the best of your knowledge, why did the Department of Justice seek a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago?

HUR: Congressman, I am not familiar with those deliberations. That is a matter that I had no participation --

NADLER: Well, I will tell you, it was because they were concerned that Trump had lied about possession of those documents and might conceal or

destroy them.

Special counsel Smith found that president Trump obstructed his investigation by suggesting that his attorney falsely represented the FBI

and grand jury that Trump did not have the documents called for by the grand jury subpoena.

At any point in your investigation, do you have any reason to believe that President Biden lied to you?

HUR: I do address in my report one response that the president gave to a question that we had posed to him that we deemed to be not credible.

NADLER: Was it clear he didn't lie?

HUR: I'm sorry, Congress man?

NADLER: The report is clear that he didn't lie or that he caused his staff to lie to you and that he didn't cause his staff to lie to you. Your report

is clear on that.

You agree that causing someone to lie to the FBI is a classic example of obstruction of justice?

HUR: It is an example of obstruction, yes.

NADLER: Thank you.

Trump also obstructed the Smith investigation by directing one of his employees to move boxes of documents to conceal them from Trump's attorney,

from the FBI and from the grand jury.

At any point in your investigation, did you find that President Biden directed his staff to conceal documents from you or anyone else?

HUR: We did not reach that --


You would agree that hiding documents is a classic example of obstructing an investigation?

HUR: It is an example of --

NADLER: Thank you.

Donald Trump instructed his staff to delete security footage so that the FBI and special counsel could not see how he had tried to move and hide


Do you agree that attempting to delete video footage in this manner is plainly attempted to obstruct an investigation?

HUR: Congressman, I do not want to characterize the evidence in the case against --

NADLER: But if that happened, would you agree that deleting video footage is plainly an attempt to obstruct an investigation?

HUR: Congressman, it is the type of evidence that prosecutors would consider --

NADLER: OK. To sum up, Donald Trump is charged with willfully retaining classified documents and conspiring to conceal those documents. And he is

facing additional charges for lying to investigators.

Isn't that correct?

HUR: Those are allegations that are in a pending --


HUR: -- former president Trump.

NADLER: And the reason why President Biden is not facing a single charge, Mr. Hur, is not because you went easy on him but because, after reviewing 7

million documents and interviewing nearly 150 witnesses, including the president himself, you could not prove that he had committed a crime.


I yield back.

JORDAN: The gentleman yields back. The gentleman from -- Mr. McClintock from California is recognized.


Mr. Hur, I first want to get this straight.

Is it now OK if I take home top secret documents, store them in my garage and read portions of them to friends or associates?

HUR: Congressman, I would not recommend it. But I don't want to entertain any hypotheticals at this --


I mean, I could do that now under this new doctrine?

HUR: Yes, Congressman, I would not recommend that you do that. But --

MCCLINTOCK: You have essentially said so in your report. And certainly it would be exculpatory if I simply told you, hey, I am getting old. I don't

remember stuff the way I used to.

HUR: Congressman, I am not here to get into hypotheticals. I'm here to talk about the facts and the work that I did.

MCCLINTOCK: It's not a hypothetical, this is the issue at hand. You have correctly noted in your report that former presidents and other senior

officials have been given wide latitude in their possession of classified information.

And I believe your decision not to prosecute Biden for the same offense is consistent with that precedent. But the problem is that precedent changed

with the administration's decision to prosecute Donald Trump.

And the irony is, that as president, Trump had full discretion over handling classified material he owned (ph) and full discretion in deciding

which records to retain. As a senator or vice president, Joe Biden did not have that.

So now we get to this glaring double standard. I think it would be toxic to the rule of law on its face if it was just two ordinary citizens. But the

fact that the only person being prosecuted for this offense happens to be the president's political opponent makes this a unprecedented assault on

our democracy.

This is worse than we could expect from a banana republic. And I wonder how you square this.

HUR: Congressman, I do address, as I was required to as a prosecutor, a relevant precedent in the form of the alleged -- the allegations in the

indictment against former president Trump. I set forth my explanation and my assessment and comparison of those precedents in my report. And I am not

here to comment any further --


MCCLINTOCK: Well, you said for example that there was no evidence beyond reasonable doubt. Well, you got the fact that he had classified material in

his possession and control and multiple settings for multiple years, that he told others he was aware of this and that he shared this material with


The mind boggles at what beyond reasonable doubt would actually mean.

HUR: Well, as I set forth at length in my explanations, in chapters 11 and 12 of the report, my assessment is that the evidence, if presented in

trial, alongside potential defense arguments, would not probably result in a conviction at trial.

MCCLINTOCK: Well, that is one of the points you make, is that President Biden is likely to be an elderly, sympathetic figure with a poor memory.

But how does that bear on any individual's guilt or innocence?

Isn't that again a question for a judge or jury to decide after guilt or innocence is determined?

And again, here is the problem. Donald Trump is being prosecuted for exactly the same act that you have documented that Joe Biden committed.

HUR: Congressman, if I understood your question correctly, you said -- isn't that is a question for a jury?

And most certainly in the -- through the lens of my --

MCCLINTOCK: The question is, does that bear on the guilt or innocence of an individual?

HUR: It certainly bears on how a jury is going to receive and perceive and make decisions --

MCCLINTOCK: So the answer to my earlier question is correct. All I have to do when I'm caught taking home classified materials is to say, I am sorry,

Mr. Herbert (ph), but I am getting old. My memory is not so great.

HUR: Congress man --

MCCLINTOCK: This is the doctrine that you have established in our laws now. And it is frightening.

HUR: Congressman, my intent is certainly not to establish any sort of doctrine. I had a particular task. I had a particular set of evidence to

consider and make a judgment with respect to one particular set of evidence. And that is what I did.

MCCLINTOCK: Well, Mr. Hur, here is the fine point of the matter. The foundation of our justice system is equal justice under law. That is what

gives the law its respect and its legitimacy. And without it, the law is simply force, devoid of any moral authority.

Justice is depicted as blindfolded for this very reason. It does not matter who comes before her. All are treated equally. You destroy this foundation

and the rule of law becomes a sick mockery. It becomes a weapon to wield against political rivals and a tool of despotism.

And I am desperately afraid that this decision of the Department of Justice has now crossed a very bright line.


And I yield back.

JORDAN: The gentleman yields back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman, (INAUDIBLE) amicus (ph) consent to introduce the State of the Union as a -- for the hearing.

JORDAN: Without objection.

The ranking member's recognized for unanimous consent.

NADLER: Mr. Chairman, I ask for the unanimous consent for the copy of an article this morning's "The Washington Post" entitled, "Full transcript of

Biden's special counsel interview paints nuanced portrait. The president does not come across as absent-minded as Hur made him out to be."

JORDAN: Without objection.

The chair recognizes now the gentlelady from California for five minutes.


And thank you, Mr. Hur, for being here today. I found your report very interesting and I learned some things about the law and the precedence.

There are clear differences between the cases of -- in precedents set by Presidents Reagan, Trump and Biden.

Now it was widely known that President Reagan kept diaries from his presidency that included classified information.

What I did not know and learned in your report was that the Department of Justice, quote, "repeatedly described the diaries in public court filings

as Mr. Reagan's personal records, unquote, and that no agency ever attempted to remove his diaries. That is on page 185 of your report. Very


So the investigation found that President Biden believed that his notebooks were his personal property, including work and political notes,

reflections, to-do lists and more that he was entitled to take home. You found that on page 232.

So while much of his notebook was work-related, he still had some purely personal subjects like -- again, I quote, "gut-wrenching enterdies (ph)

about the illness and death of his son, Beau," and that is on page 82 and 253 of your report.

So it is clear, based on the Reagan president, that no criminal charges were warranted in this matter relative to personal notebooks.

Now I want to be clear that, although the notebooks contain some very personal information and President Biden considered them his personal

property, the president allowed your team to seize and review all of the notebooks you found.

Is that correct?

HUR: That is correct.

LOFGREN: Now, that is in stark contrast to ex-president Trump's case. He obstructed and diverted all the investigations.

Now you also interviewed President Biden about other classified documents you found outside his notebooks, didn't you?

HUR: Yes, Congresswoman.

LOFGREN: So did the president tell you that he believed any documents other than his own handwritten work were his personal property?

Yes or no?

HUR: We did not hear that from the president during his interview.

LOFGREN: So again, it is very different from ex-president Trump. Ex- president Trump said all of the documents marked classified were his personal property. President Biden did not consider documents that were

produced by other entities with classification markings as his personal records.

Now I think, you know, since the majority has tried to assert that there is a disparity based on politics and the differences in the prosecution, it is

worth quoting page 11 of the report, which says, and I quote, "several material distinctions between Mr. Trump's case and Mr. Biden's case are


"Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite.

According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for many months but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to

destroy evidence and then to lie about it."

That is on page 11.

Quote, "In contrast Mr. Biden turned in classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice; consented to the search of

multiple locations, including his homes; sat for a voluntary interview and, in other ways, cooperated with the investigation. It is clear that these

cases are not the same."

And, frankly, I was surprised to learn that some of the classified documents were actually personal diaries that many executive officials have

taken home with them because it was in their own handwriting. It was what they produced.

And based on the Department of Justice public statements during the Reagan administration, it is understandable that a person could believe that their

personal diaries that they produced were not to be turned over.