Polarization Dominated the Hur Hearing

Polarization Dominated the Hur Hearing

Both Republicans and Democrats took issue with the comprehensive analysis of the special counsel.

On Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Hur went before the House Judiciary Committee to face questions about the investigation of President Biden in which he concluded that, although Biden mishandled classified information, he ought not be charged in a court of law. 

The hearing was accompanied by the release of the full transcript of Hur’s two-day interview with Biden in October 2023.

The lengthy report and interview did not do much to change the minds of the House representatives who questioned Hur’s intentions, decisions, and integrity at the hours-long hearing. Both Republicans and Democrats alike made ardent attempts to vilify Hur either over his decision to not charge Biden with any crimes or over his “unflattering” descriptions of the president. 

In his opening statement, Hur made it clear that he would “refrain from speculating or commenting on areas outside the scope of the investigation.” Nevertheless, nearly every congressperson either asked Hur about hypotheticals tangential to his report or brought up the former President Donald Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who chairs the committee, sought to have Hur agree that President Biden was driven by “the oldest motives in the book: pride and money.” This was because one of the issues Hur investigated was the fact that Biden shared classified information with his ghostwriter, Mark Zwonitzer, in order to assist with the process of writing his book, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose

“Joe Biden had 8 million reasons to break the rules. He took classified information and shared it with the guy who was writing the book,” Rep. Jordan said. “That’s why he did it. He knew the rules, but he broke them for $8 million in a book advance.” 

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida asked how Hur could not have at least charged Zwonitzer with obstruction of justice, since Hur himself had said, “He slid those files into his recycle bin on his computer.” 

“What does somebody have to do to get charged with obstruction of justice by you?” Gaetz asked incredulously. “If deleting the evidence of crimes doesn’t count, what would meet the standard?”

Even though Hur clarified that Zwonitzer had deleted recordings but kept transcripts of his conversations with Biden, a visibly frustrated Gaetz still concluded, “So, if you destroy some evidence, but not other evidence, that somehow absolves you of the evidence you destroy.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, was one of the first congressmen to question Hur, although much of what he had to say was not about the current president, but the former one. After talking about how Trump refused to hand over classified documents after leaving office, Nadler asked, “What does that say about his mental state? Here, too, the record speaks for itself.”

Like many of his Democrat colleagues after him, such as California’s Rep. Eric Swalwell, he decided to play a compilation of Trump gaffes that he thought showed a level of incompetence or senility that could be comparable to or worse than Biden’s. 

After the video played, Nadler said of Trump, “That is a man who is incapable of avoiding criminal liability. A man who is wholly unfit for office and a man who, at the very least, ought to think twice before accusing others of cognitive decline.” Hur adamantly refused to comment on questions regarding Trump, since that was outside of the scope of his own investigation. 

Yet his commitment to staying on the topic of the Biden probe was not shared by Georgia’s Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson. Johnson viciously accused Hur’s findings of being influenced by partisan politics, since he is a registered Republican. 

“You’re doing everything you can to get President Trump reelected so that you can get appointed as a federal judge or perhaps to another position in the Justice Department, isn’t that correct?” Johnson asked.

Hur replied, “Congressman, I have no such aspirations, I can assure you. And I can tell you that partisan politics had no place whatsoever in my work.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, another California Democrat, was similarly hostile towards the former special counsel. He deemed Hur’s report “deeply prejudicial” and claimed that questioning Biden’s mental faculties has hurt the reputation of the president.

“You were not born yesterday, you understood exactly what you were doing,” Schiff nearly yelled. “You cannot tell me you’re so naive to think your words would not have created a political firestorm.”

When Hur attempted to defend himself, the California representative only became angrier. He subsequently accused Hur of injecting his own “personal, prejudicial, subjective opinion of the president, one you knew would be amplified by his political opponent,” once again bringing the subject of the hearing back to the former president. 

In her moment in the spotlight, Washington’s Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal attempted to get Hur to say he had “exonerated” President Biden. Hur was swift to clarify: “I did not exonerate him—that word does not appear in my report.”

Hur repeatedly said that although he found some evidence of “willful mishandling” of classified information on behalf of Biden, there was insufficient evidence to prove it to a jury “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That was evidently not enough to convince Jayapal, per a post-hearing post on X, formerly Twitter.

Exonerate (verb)

Definition: To clear from accusation or blame.

Example: Robert Hur exonerated President Biden with his 345-page report and testimony before Congress.

— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) March 13, 2024

Little new information came to light from the hearing, despite—or perhaps because of—members on each side of the aisle trying to score viral C-SPAN clips. As Rep. Ken Buck, the Colorado Republican who announced Tuesday that he will be retiring next week, told Hur, “When both sides attack you, my admonition is, ‘Welcome to Congress.’”

The post Polarization Dominated the Hur Hearing appeared first on The American Conservative.

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