Biden approved in case of documents; The report raises concerns about his memory

The special prosecutor investigating President Biden said ua report released on Thursday that he decided that “no criminal charges” were warranted against Mr. Biden over his handling of classified material after he left the vice presidency in early 2017, but found evidence that Mr. Biden had intentionally withheld and disclosed some sensitive material.

Robert K. Hur, Special Counsel, he said in his very unflattering report that Mr. Biden left the White House after his vice-presidential tenure with classified documents on Afghanistan and notebooks with handwritten notes “implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods” taken from internal White House briefings.

The report said Mr. Biden shared the contents of the notebooks with a ghostwriter who helped him with his 2017 memoir, “Promise Me, Dadeven though he knew it was confidential.

Although Mr. Hur chose not to prosecute Mr. Biden, some of his reasons for doing so are likely to raise new questions about the president’s behavior and his mental state, portraying him in interviews as unable to recall key dates of his vice presidency — or even exactly when his son Beau died.

“Mr. Biden would likely present himself to the jury, as he did during our interview with him, as a likable, well-intentioned, elderly man with a bad memory,” Mr. Hur wrote.

It would be difficult to convince a jury after Mr. Biden left office that “a former president in his 80s” was guilty of a crime that “requires a mental state of his will,” Mr. Hur added.

But Mr. Hur’s assessment will provide powerful new political arguments to former President Donald J. Trump in his battle to discredit the department over its far more serious investigation into its retention of classified materials, which resulted in criminal charges last summer. Mr. Hur’s report included a photograph of the open box in which the FBI found classified Afghan documents in Mr. Biden’s cluttered garage, next to a ladder and old exercise equipment.

White House officials said Mr. Biden cooperated fully with the investigation and took the handling of classified information seriously.

“We disagree with a number of inaccurate and inappropriate comments in the special prosecutor’s report. “Nonetheless, the most important decision the special counsel made — that the charges were not warranted — was firmly based on the facts and evidence,” Richard Sauber, Mr. Biden’s special counsel, said in a statement.

Mr. Hur, a former Trump Justice Department official who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in January 2023 to lead the investigation after classified files were found in the garage and living quarters of Mr. Biden’s home in Delaware and his former office in Washington, said that his decision not to file criminal charges would have been the same even if Justice Department policy did not rule out indicting the current president.

“We conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Mr. Hur wrote in his more than 300-page report.

In an introduction to the report, Mr. Hur cited Mr. Biden’s cooperation with investigators, in stark contrast to former Mr. Trump’s behavior when the documents were discovered at his Florida resort, as one factor in his decision not to press charges.

Unlike Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump refused to return the materials he had withheld “after being given multiple chances to return the documents and avoid prosecution,” he wrote.

In a conversation recorded at a rental property in Virginia in February 2017 — a month after he left office — Mr. Biden told his ghostwriter that he “just found all the classified stuff down there.”

Mr. Hur said the exchange was the strongest basis for prosecution he had found, but that a jury was unlikely to convict Mr. Biden, given that he had become accustomed to the legal retention of documents as vice president, and may not have fully adjusted to the new restrictions and believed he had the right to withhold his personal notes — on the grounds that former President Ronald Reagan withheld similar materials for decades.

Mr. Hur could not determine whether the classified documents discovered at Mr. Biden’s home were intentionally withheld or obtained during his vice-presidential tenure and improperly stored.

The secret document discovered in Mr. Biden’s Delaware garage in a “heavily damaged box surrounded by household waste” indicates that he may have simply forgotten he had it over the years, rather than deliberately breaking the law, Mr. Hur concluded.

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