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Updated Feb 8, 2024, 5:04pm EST
politicsNorth America

Biden won’t be charged for disclosing classified materials

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event at the White House in recognition of Black History Month, in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
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The News

President Joe Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials” after his vice presidency, but won’t face criminal charges for his actions, special counsel Robert Hur announced Thursday.

Biden’s actions “present serious risks to national security,” Hur wrote in the report, adding that the president came off as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” during the investigation.

Hur said that Biden’s apparent memory loss would convince the jury that he made innocent mistakes, and he laid out “clear” differences compared to former President Donald Trump’s own classified document case, in which Trump willfully held on to classified information even after being given multiple chances to hand them over to the National Archives.

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Biden’s classified materials in question include documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and notebooks with Biden’s handwritten notes exposing sensitive intelligence sources, according to Hur’s report.

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Know More

Hur’s report detailed several instances of Biden’s apparent memory loss, such as not remembering when his term as vice president began and ended, and the year of his son Beau’s death.

The report found no evidence that Biden shared classified information with any foreign person.

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The investigators considered pressing charges against Biden’s memoir ghostwriter who had reportedly deleted audio files of “significant evidentiary value,” but ultimately decided against it after the FBI was able to recover deleted files from the writer’s computer and hard drive.

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The View From The White House

The Biden administration welcomed the decision to not press charges but disagreed with “a number of inaccurate and inappropriate comments” made in the report, said Biden’s special counsel Richard Sauber.

In a letter to Hur before the report’s release, Biden’s lawyers said the reporter’s treatment of Biden’s memory wasn’t accurate and slammed Hur for using “highly prejudicial language.” The letter said that it was common not to recall “years-old events” and that Biden’s inability to remember specific details “is neither surprising nor unusual” for any witness.

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It was “unsurprising” that Hur “could not refrain from investigative excess,” Bob Bauer, the president’s personal counsel, said in a separate statement, blaming it on “intense pressures of the current political environment.”

Sauber said that it was common for administrations to make mistakes when packing up documents, adding that Biden was planning to announce actions that would “prevent such mistakes in the future.”

In a statement, Biden said that he was “so determined” to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s investigation that he gave five hours of in-person interviews just two days after Hamas had attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and he was “in the middle of handling an international crisis.”

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The View From the GOP

Republicans immediately decried Hur’s decision not to charge Biden, reiterating their position that his Justice Department is unfairly singling out former President Donald Trump.

“This has now proven to be a two-tiered system of justice and unconstitutional selective prosecution,” Trump said in a statement.

Even before the report’s release, House Republicans said they would move forward with their independent probe into the matter.

Many in Trump’s sphere were quick to highlight Hur’s concerns with Biden’s memory.

“If you’re too senile to stand trial, then you’re too senile to be president,” Alex Pfeiffer of Make America Great Again Inc. said in a statement.

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