Special Counsel Robert Hur’s February 8 report on President Biden’s unauthorized removal, retention, and disclosure of classified information is devastating in its portrayal of Joe Biden’s: 1) willful intent and carelessness in handling extremely sensitive and classified government materials; 2) diminished mental capacity; and 3) inability to tell the truth when confronted with his conduct.
The president’s disastrous impromptu press conference on the evening of the report’s release only made matters worse.
Here are my initial takeaways since the report was released on Thursday:
1. The report details multiple pieces of evidence showing that Biden unlawfully and willfully retained and disclosed classified materials, “after his vice presidency when he was a private person.” When an individual willfully retains or discloses classified materials, he does so knowing that he is violating the law.
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2. This was damaging enough. But the report went on to assert that Biden could not be successfully prosecuted for his conduct, in large part because of his diminished mental capacity.
This conclusion, supported by detailed examples, has caused outrage among liberal commentators, but the report speaks for itself. Biden either remembers the year his son died, or he is off by several years. Biden either remembers when he began and ended his vice presidential term, or he doesn’t.
Biden and his supporters applaud Hur’s decision to decline prosecution, but attack the key rationale behind that decision—Biden’s diminished mental capacity in 2017, today, and whenever his presidency ends, in 2025 or 2029, when he would presumably be subject to prosecution. But that dog won’t hunt.
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t crow about your alleged exoneration while attacking as “gratuitous” and “extraneous” the very thing that gets you off the hook.
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3. The report also reveals that Biden’s explanations to Hur’s team for his improper retention of classified documents were not credible. In other words, although Biden cooperated with Hur’s investigation by sitting for an interview and turning over documents, he gave what are known in criminal law as false exculpatory statements to the special counsel’s team. This is itself evidence that Biden knew his actions were unlawful at the time he took them.
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t crow about your alleged exoneration while attacking as ‘gratuitous’ and ‘extraneous’ the very thing that gets you off the hook.
4. Biden continued to make obviously false exculpatory statements in his impromptu February 8 press conference. For example, he stated that all of the classified documents found in his house were in locked file cabinets or file cabinets that could be locked. This is blatantly false. Some of them were found in a torn cardboard box in his garage, next to potting soil.
Biden also stated that none of his materials were highly classified. This is also false.
The report clearly spells out that some of the classified documents were marked “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.”
Finally, Biden stated that he had not shared classified information with his ghostwriter. This, too, is untrue.
Biden repeatedly read aloud, verbatim, to his ghostwriter from notebooks that were filled with classified materials written down by Biden, “during intelligence briefings with President Obama and meetings in the White House Situation Room about matters of national security and military and foreign policy.” The ghostwriter then deleted the recordings when he learned about the government’s investigation.
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5. Perhaps most importantly, on the question of Biden’s willful state of mind, the report details that some of the classified materials improperly retained by Biden “were found in a box . . . that contained other materials of great personal significance to him and that he appears to have personally used and accessed.
The marked classified documents were found along with drafts of the handwritten 2009 Thanksgiving memo Biden sent President Obama in a last-ditch effort to persuade him not to send additional troops to Afghanistan. These materials were proof of the stand Mr. Biden took in what he regarded as among the most important decisions of his vice presidency.”
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In other words, the classified materials retained by Biden over several years, including when he was a private citizen, were critical to what Biden saw as his legacy. He did not mistakenly or inadvertently store and forget them.
So, where does President Biden go from here? Hur’s report is several hundred pages long. Damaging details are certain to dribble out over the next few days and weeks.
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The press is likely to add additional findings after doing its own digging. If this were not an election year, it might be forgotten and dismissed after a while as “old news.”
But former President Trump’s campaign team is not going to let anyone forget. Expect the report’s findings to be relayed and replayed in “Grandpa’s greatest hits” fashion whenever Trump takes the stage to talk about what he sees as our two-tiered system of justice.
Add to this the mental gaffes that Biden will inevitably continue to make on the campaign trail, and you have a recipe for electoral disaster.
Listen carefully this weekend and over the next several days. You may hear the sound of knives being sharpened in the Democratic camp.
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