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Friday, May 24, 2024

Biden broke law but won’t be charged – US special counsel

Investigators have found that the president’s mishandling of classified documents jeopardized national security

US President Joe Biden put national security at risk by “willfully” retaining and disclosing state secrets, a prosecutor has concluded. However, indicting the president for mishandling classified documents is unwarranted, US Department of Justice special counsel Robert Hur wrote in a 345-page report released on Thursday, partly because a jury would be reluctant to convict a defendant who comes across as an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

The special counsel’s report said, “Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”

Read more: Biden administration faces pushback from Arab-Americans

Biden cheered the long-awaited report, saying, “I was pleased to see they reached the conclusion I believed all along they would reach – that there would be no charges brought in this case, and the matter is now closed.”

Republican lawmakers blasted the decision not to prosecute Biden, noting that former President Donald Trump faces 40 felony charges for mishandling classified documents. Hur’s report revealed shocking failures in Biden’s memory, they added, including the fact that he couldn’t even remember when he was vice president or roughly when his son Beau died.

”Today’s report from Robert Hur tells us two things: There’s a double standard of justice in this country, and Joe Biden isn’t fit for office,” US House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) post. Senator J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican, reacted similarly, saying, “Our criminal justice system is a joke.”

Read more: Biden says he has decided how to respond to Jordan attack

Hur’s investigation concerned the discovery of classified documents that Biden kept after completing his second term as vice president in 2017 and stashed at multiple locations, including two homes and his office at the Penn Biden Center think tank in Washington. The documents included classified information on the US occupation of Afghanistan.

Biden’s conduct “presented serious risks to national security, given the vulnerability of sensitive information to loss or compromise to America’s adversaries,” Hur wrote in his report. The mishandled documents included information “implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods,” he added, but pursuing criminal charges “is not the property remedy” for addressing Biden’s security breaches.

Hur’s report included pictures showing how Biden’s documents were stored, including boxes stacked between a rocking chair and a treadmill in his Delaware garage. Classified notebooks were found in a file cabinet under a television in his home office.

One of Biden’s lawyers first reported his possession of classified documents in November 2022. Hur’s report showed that about a month after leaving office in 2017, Biden told his ghostwriter in a recorded conversation that he had “just found all this classified stuff downstairs.”

The ghostwriter, Mark Zwonitzer, deleted some of his audio recordings of Biden after learning of the special counsel’s investigation, Hur said. However, the prosecutor said Zwonitzer won’t be criminally charged for impeding the probe because he offered “plausible, innocent reasons” for deleting the files.

Two of Trump’s employees were charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly helping the ex-president hide classified documents at his Florida resort.