Biden, Garland Teams Swapped Tense Letters Ahead of Report

Justice Department rebuffed objections to Robert Hur's judgments
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2024 5:25 PM CST
Biden, Garland Teams Swapped Tense Letters Ahead of Report
Robert Hur outside court in Baltimore in 2019   (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

The Justice Department rejected sharp objections from President Biden's legal team to the content—and existence—of the special counsel's report on his classified documents investigation before its release. The president's lawyers wrote that parts of the report "openly, obviously, and blatantly violate Department policy and practice," the Washington Post reports. Robert Hur had written that Biden is an "elderly man with a poor memory" who has "diminished faculties in advanced age," assertions that the president's lawyers said were "uncalled for." Hur also accused the president of being "totally irresponsible" for keeping diaries from his terms as vice president at home that held classified information.

That statement remained in Hur's report though he conceded that other former presidents had taken similar files home and that the Justice Department had never raised an objection in other cases, per the New York Times. White House counsel Edward Siskel and Bob Bauer, Biden's personal lawyer, did not ask Attorney General Merrick Garland to take anything out of the report or have Hur rewrite it. But they told him, "we object to the multiple denigrating statements about President Biden's memory which violate longstanding DOJ practice and policy." Garland did not answer. On the day the report was released, the Justice Department's senior career official, Bradley Weinsheimer, wrote back defending it.

Weinsheimer said Hur's assessments were appropriate given the context, because his job is to make and explain his decisions on filing charges. Biden's lawyers argued Hur shouldn't have produced any report, much less a 388-page one weighing in on the president's faculties; department rules say that when no charges are filed after an investigation, the special counsel should send merely send a confidential summary to the attorney general. The Post has the letters here. (More President Biden stories.)

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