The Justice Department will not prosecute Biden in the classified documents investigation.
President Biden knowingly retained and disseminated classified data after leaving the Obama administration and becoming a private person, but his actions do not justify criminal prosecution, according to a Justice Department special counsel report issued Thursday.
The roughly 350-page report by special counsel Robert Hur states that the evidence did not demonstrate Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter,” according to the report. “We would reach the same conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.”
While the White House agreed with the decision that charges were not warranted, lawyers for the president wrote in a letter that “we disagree with a number of inaccurate and inappropriate comments in the Special Counsel’s report” on the classified documents, including what it called “highly prejudicial language” to describe the president’s memory.
According to White House counsel Richard Sauber, the report demonstrates that Biden cooperated with the inquiry, and “mistakes when packing documents… are unfortunately a common occurrence.”
He stated that Biden will take “new, substantive action to help prevent such mistakes in the future” but did not specify what that action would be.
What classified materials were
Hur’s decision not to press charges against the president concludes a protracted inquiry that began in November 2022, when Biden’s attorneys discovered sensitive materials in the offices of the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.
Biden’s personal attorneys gave up the records, which were alleged to be from his term as vice president, to the National Archives and Records Administration. Federal authorities later discovered a limited number of other classified papers during a search of Biden’s house in Wilmington, Delaware. Agents also examined Biden’s vacation house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, but found no classified items.
Hur was assigned as special counsel to examine the case in January 2023.
Hur’s investigation focuses on two types of classified information in particular: records regarding military and international policy in Afghanistan, and notebooks containing Biden’s handwritten notes on national security and foreign policy concerns.
According to the story, the Afghanistan records were discovered in a box in Biden’s Delaware garage in late 2009. The confidential files were discovered among versions of a handwritten 2009 Thanksgiving note that Biden addressed to then-President Obama in an attempt to urge him not to send more soldiers to Afghanistan.
“These material were proof of the stand Mr. Biden took in what he regarded as among the most important decisions of his vice presidency,” according to the study.
Meanwhile, FBI officers discovered scribbled notebooks in unsecured drawers in Biden’s office and basement room at his Delaware home. According to the study, evidence reveals Biden was aware that the notebooks included secret material.
Nonetheless, Biden read passages aloud to his ghostwriter, according to the story.
“At least three times Mr. Biden read from classified entries aloud to his ghostwriter nearly verbatim,” according to the report.
It goes on to say that while evidence reveals Biden was aware that he was not permitted to maintain classified handwritten notes at home after leaving office, prosecutors do not feel the evidence was strong enough to establish Biden intended to breach the law at trial.
“We expect that Mr. Biden’s defense at trial would be that he thought his notebooks were his personal property and he was allowed to take them home, even if they contained classified information,” according to the article. “During our interview of him, Mr. Biden was emphatic, declaring that his notebooks are ‘my property’ and that ‘every president before me has done the exact same thing.'”
In his report, Hur described Biden as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” and said it would have been “difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him… of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness” in his retention of classified Afghan documents. According to the study, Biden struggles to remember timeframes and specifics.
The lawsuit connects with the election.
Democrats anticipated the probe would be completed swiftly so that it would not become an issue in the presidential race. Instead, the investigation lasted more than a year, and Hur’s revelation comes just as Biden prepares to face former President Donald Trump in a rematch in 2024.
Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence were involved in their own secret document disasters. Pence’s issue was resolved promptly, with no criminal charges filed.
Trump, on the other hand, is facing over three dozen federal criminal accusations after boxes of sensitive data were discovered in unprotected areas of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump and his allies have pleaded not guilty in the federal investigation, which is being handled by special counsel Jack Smith.
Prosecutors contend that Trump had a direct involvement in packing the material when he left the White House in 2021, and that he directed his attorneys to mislead the FBI about the materials he possessed.
While both the Trump and Biden instances concern the preservation of sensitive materials, there are important distinctions between them.
Biden’s counsel promptly returned the files and cooperated with investigators. Trump, on the other hand, is accused of knowingly retaining the information and aggressively obstructing officials’ attempts to obtain them.
This discrepancy was also acknowledged in the special counsel’s report released Thursday.
“It is not our role to assess the criminal charges pending against Mr. Trump, but several material distinctions between Mr. Trump’s case and Mr. Biden’s are clear,” according to the study. “Unlike the evidence involving Mr. Biden, the allegations set forth in the indictment of Mr. Trump, if proven, would present serious aggravating facts.”