President Joe Biden and his aides will not face any charges as part of the special counsel’s investigation into their handling of classified documents, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.
Special counsel Robert Hur said in his report that although Biden “knowingly retained and disclosed classified material after serving as vice president while he was still a private citizen,” no criminal charges could be brought.
President Trump rejected the findings in a press conference on Thursday, saying that any claim that he intentionally withheld the documents was “misleading and patently false.” He considered this incident to be very different from the documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
“Not like at Mar-a-Lago, in a public place,” Biden said. “I wish I had paid more attention to how the documents were moved. I think it was moved to the archives, I think everything was moved.”
“They came to a firm conclusion,” he added. “I didn’t break the law, period.”
Thursday’s release caps a saga a year after the president’s aides told the government they found a small cache of classified documents at his Delaware home and former office. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Hur in January 2023, saying at the time the DOJ was “committed to independence and accountability in highly sensitive matters.”
Among the documents Biden is holding are “papers and artifacts related to key issues and events in his career,” including documents on US policy in Afghanistan. Biden kept these records because “he always believed history would prove him right” in opposing increased U.S. involvement there, Hur said.
“These materials are evidence of the stance Biden took in what he considers one of the most important decisions of his vice presidential term,” Hur said.
Biden did not reveal any of this classified material in his 2017 memoir, but he shared some of the documents with ghostwriters, the report said.This image, included in a report from special counsel Robert Hur and captioned by sources, shows a damaged box containing classified documents in President Joe Biden’s garage in Wilmington, Delaware.
Hur also concluded that it would be very difficult to convince jurors of Biden’s wrongdoing because he “will likely present himself to the jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, older man with a memory the bad one. .”
Biden made the remarks in a briefing on Thursday.
“My memory is fine,” the president said, before criticizing a Fox News reporter who asked about his mental fitness. “My memory is so bad that I let you talk.”
There were also numerous suggestions that the documents, stored in “a badly damaged box surrounded by household debris,” may have been “forgotten,” according to the report, saying that was enough to “convince some jurors that he made an unintentional mistake. , rather than acting deliberately.”
Biden spoke with Hur voluntarily over two days in October, and the White House stressed at the time that the president was cooperating fully with the investigation. The Justice Department still maintains that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, but Biden’s aides could face charges if investigators find any impropriety.
These events will almost certainly play a significant role in the chaos leading up to the November election even though Biden’s actions are a far cry from Trump’s.
Trump has been impeached and charged with 40 criminal counts over his own handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Federal prosecutors have filed charges of willful withholding of documents and obstruction of justice against the former president, claims Trump has rejected as a political witch hunt.
Hur discusses in his report why the investigation into Trump recommended charges, while the investigation into Biden did not.
“Most importantly, after being given numerous opportunities to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Trump allegedly did just the opposite. “According to the indictment, not only did he refuse to return the documents for months, but he also obstructed justice by asking others to destroy the evidence and then lying about it,” Hur wrote.
“On the contrary,” he continued, “Mr. Biden turned over classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice, consented to searches of several locations including his home, took part in voluntary interviews, and otherwise cooperated with the investigation.”
In a statement following the release of Hur’s report, Biden said he was prioritizing working with the special counsel to clear his name.
“I cooperated fully, offered no obstacles, and did not ask for delays,” he said. “In fact, I was so determined to give the Special Advisor what he needed that I conducted five hours of in-person interviews over two days on October 8 and 9 last year, even though Israel had just been attacked on October 7. and I was dealing with an international crisis.”
Trump responded angrily in a statement on Thursday, claiming there was a two-tier justice system and that Biden’s actions were more egregious than his own.
“The Biden Document case is 100 times different and worse than my case. I did nothing wrong, and I cooperated much more,” Trump said, closing his written statement with one of his most frequently uttered phrases: “ELECTION INTERFERENCE.”
Biden is expected to face Trump in November’s presidential election as Trump dominates the Republican primary.