Joe Biden And Donald Trump Rematch At Center Of Highly Partisan House Hearing With Special Counsel Robert Hur — Update

UPDATE: At one point at today’s marathon House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI) asked Special Counsel Robert Hur, “Did you find that the president was senile?”

“I did not. That conclusion does not appear in my report, Congressman,” Hur said.

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Hur, who investigated Biden’s handling of classified material, concluded that no charges should be filed against the president in his report, released last month. But he also set of a firestorm among Biden and his supporters for suggesting that he was in cognitive decline.

That made his a target of Democrats’ criticism throughout the morning, but he also was grilled by Republicans on the decision not to prosecute Biden, as his rival in 2024, Donald Trump, makes claims that he is being unfairly targeted by the Justice Department.

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) questioned Hur on why he claimed that Biden could not remember when his son, Beau, died, when the transcript of the president’s deposition showed that the president recalled the day and month of his son’s death. Biden was reminded of the year.

Hur initially told Dean that he “didn’t think that was correct with respect to the transcript.” But she identified the page of the transcript in which Biden said, “Oh God. May 30th.”

All in all, despite hours of testimony, Hur’s appearance is not likely to change many minds. Rather, the hearing gave a bit of a preview of how the rematch between Biden and Trump will play out.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told Hur, “You don’t gratuitously add language that you know will be useful in a political campaign,” referring to Hur’s description of Biden as an elderly man with “poor memory.” Schiff argued that Hur was making a “political choice” that was “the wrong choice” because witnesses typically say that they don’t recall events that happened many years earlier.

Hur responded, “What you are suggesting is that I shape, sanitize, omit portions of my reasoning and explanation to the attorney general for political reasons…That did not happen.”

PREVIOUSLY: Robert Hur, former Justice Department special counsel, defended his references to Joe Biden’s “poor memory” in his report on his handling of classified documents after his vice presidency.

“My task was to determine whether the president retained or disclosed national defense information willfully,” Hur told the House Judiciary Committee. “That means knowingly and with the intent to do something the law forbids. I could not 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 would likely perceive his memory and mental state in a criminal trial.”

The White House and Biden’s allies have criticized Hur for his characterization of Biden’s memory during his deposition. Hur declined to file charges.

Hur told the committee that during the deposition, they asked Biden about “his recorded statement, ‘I just found all the classified stuff downstairs’ and he told us he didn’t remember saying that to his ghostwriter. He also said he didn’t remember finding any classified material in his home after his vice presidency. And he didn’t remember anything about how classified documents about Afghanistan made their way into his garage. My assessment in the report about the relevance of the president’s memory was necessary and accurate and fair.”

In the report, Hur characterized Biden as a “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.” Hur claimed that Biden could not remember when his son, Beau, died, “even within several years.” Following the release of Hur’s report last month, Biden lashed out at Hur for bringing up the death of his son. The transcript of the deposition, released earlier today, showed that it was Biden who brought up Beau Biden’s death. He did remember the day and month of his son’s death, May 30, but was reminded of the year, 2015.

Republicans have tried to show that Biden acted carelessly in his handling of classified documents, yet faced no charges, while Trump is poised to go on trial over his retention of classified material. Democrats, meanwhile, have highlighted Hur’s efforts to distinguish Biden’s case with that of Trump, who faces charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice.

PREVIOUSLY: News networks are riveted to another congressional hearing this morning, this time former Special Counsel Robert Hur’s testimony on his report that concluded that Joe Biden should not face charges over his handling of classified documents. Hur, though, also highlighted the president’s memory lapses.

Hur is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, which is known for its contentiousness and theatrics. The opening of the hearing featured Republicans showing a video of Biden and Democrats presenting footage of Donald Trump, dueling efforts to claim cognitive decline.

Throughout the morning, Hur is expected to face criticism from the right on why the president wasn’t prosecuted and on the left for why he decided to describe Biden as an “elderly man with a poor memory.” Following the release of the report last month, Biden appeared at a hastily called press conference and pushed back on Hur’s characterization of his mental state during his deposition, particularly for the suggestion that he could not remember when his son, Beau, died.

In the hours before Hur’s appearance, news outlets reported on the details of Biden’s deposition transcript, including one exchange where there is discussion of the month when his son died. The transcript is a bit more nuanced, as a number of outlets are putting it, than the idea that Biden had no recollection of the specifics. He recalled the exact day as others reminded him of the year.

In his opening remarks, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, highlighted the references to Biden’s memory lapses in Hur’s report while insisting the president “broke the law.”

Jordan also played a video of Biden’s press conference from last month, to try to show the president’s contradictions. That video, however, was countered by one presented by the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), highlighting Trump’s own memory lapses.

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