Michael Bromwich Warns of Robert Hur Report Ahead of Release

Merrick Garland has informed Congress that Robert Hur, the Special Counsel who spent an entire year confirming that when Joe Biden discovered classified information, he returned it, has finished his investigation and will release it pending a privilege review.

ABC’s report on the release raises cause for concern. Former Inspector General Michael Bromwich, who represented twenty witnesses in the inquiry (and who also has represented Andrew McCabe in avenging his firing), cautions that Hur is refusing to ensure he has the proper context for the interviews he did.

According to attorney Michael Bromwich, for the past month he has repeatedly suggested to Hur’s team that — without such a review — Hur might miss “proper factual context” for the information that each of his clients provided.

But, as Bromwich described it, Hur’s office repeatedly told him that none of the witnesses in the probe would be able to see the report before it became public.

“It’s a huge process foul, and not in the public interest,” Bromwich told ABC News.

An attorney representing other witnesses agreed, saying that his clients should be able to review a draft of Hur’s report before its release.

The ongoing dispute underscores a growing concern among Biden’s closest aides — and the attorneys representing them — that Hur’s report could be substantially critical of Biden, even if it doesn’t recommend charges against him.

ABC News previously reported that Hur’s team had apparently uncovered instances of carelessness related to Biden.

Speaking to ABC News on Wednesday, Bromwich said he expects anecdotes and information provided by many of his clients — ranging from junior staffers to senior advisers — to be included in Hur’s report, but he declined to offer any specifics.

However, Bromwich noted that Hur’s investigation has been so far-reaching that investigators even interviewed waitstaff who had worked an event at Biden’s home in recent years to determine if they might have been exposed to classified documents.

Hur is absolutely right that other Special Counsels have not offered witnesses the ability to review a report before its release.

But his immediate comparison is a tell.

Hur, a close associate of Rod Rosenstein who served as his Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General during (and therefore supervised) the Mueller investigation in its earliest, productive phase, may be thinking of the Mueller Report. In its first 200 pages it laid out how Trump’s willingness to welcome Russian help during an assault on democracy showed evidence for, but not enough to charge, a conspiracy (though the investigation into Roger Stone for such a conspiracy remained ongoing). All of it, though, was tied to a series of prosecutorial decisions. In its second 200 pages, it described obstructive conduct as President that could not be charged.

Rosenstein, after barely keeping his job in the wake of disclosures that he had considered wiretapping the President, participated in a corrupt declination for those actions.

There are key differences between the Mueller Report and what we should expect the scope to be for this report — notably, that much of the conduct pertains to what happened between the time Joe Biden left the Naval Observatory and when he moved into the White House.

And, more importantly, Bromwich advised people to cooperate. And such cooperation no doubt freed Hur to search and search and search in a way that was not possible when key witnesses were lying to obstruct the investigation, as happened with Mueller.

That’s how you spend over a year confirming what was known from the start.

But Hur’s stance also comes in the wake of the Durham Report, which because of a supine press, has never been exposed as the propaganda hit job it is. It is provable that Durham:

  • Was appointed without evidence any potential crime had been committed
  • Engaged in a review of other investigations taken during an election (and lied about the results), something that is not remotely a prosecutorial function and does not remotely belong in a SCO report
  • Fabricated a key claim against Hillary Clinton, one which he pursued for years
  • Renewed allegations against defendants who were acquitted at trial
  • Made claims about witness cooperation that at least one has disputed publicly
  • Failed to make prosecutorial decisions for one crime he investigated (the Italian referral) and the statement for which there was most proof it was a deliberate lie
  • Engaged in selective editing to substantiate false claims

Only the last of those — selective editing — was a claim that was credibly made about Mueller (in his editing of an obstructive voice mail John Dowd left for Mike Flynn’s attorney).

And it comes in the wake of David Weiss’ decision — taken in tandem with long-time associates of Rosenstein and Hur, Leo Wise and Derek Hines, and in the wake of pressure from Baltimore-based IRS Agent Gary Shapley — to ask for Special Counsel status because he wants to write a report. (As I have noted, I think that may be one point of Abbe Lowell’s SCO challenge to Weiss’ appointment; to attempt to enjoin a report that is not legally justified.)

Because of the aforementioned supine press, because there is no accountability structure in place for Special Counsels, and because as prosecutors they enjoy broad immunity (though Durham tellingly backed off false claims he made in his report when he testified to Congress), the Special Counsel process was exploited by Bill Barr in retaliation for Rosenstein’s appropriate decision to appoint one.

I don’t expect Hur’s report to be as corrupt as Durham’s. I expect it to overcompensate for claims that Trump was treated differently for intentionally stealing 300 classified records (and hiding still more) than Joe Biden was for negligently taking some home and then giving them back.

26 replies
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  2. Rugger_9 says:

    I simply have to wonder how many of these burrowed Trumpies are still in places where they can cause mischief. I would observe that being a SC doesn’t protect against any lying to Congress rap (it’s under oath) but with these guys the report gives a free pass to say whatever they want. That’s why Durham spent a lot of his hearing walking back claims and being conveniently senile. Hur will follow suit, as will Weiss when he comes up later. Whether the courtier press will report factually is the key question. I’m not holding my breath.

    What might be causing these patsies some angst is that if the Ds have a wave election win they’re in deep doo-doo. It’s not like the Ds will be vindictive, but we already see how they bring the receipts (like Neguse did to Green a couple of days back and many others) which makes a lying to Congress rap a real possibility.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I agree in substance, but don’t believe Hur and Weiss are “Trumpies” per se. It seems to me that like Rosenstein they are seeking to preserve what’s left of the GOP as they knew it; rather than aim their fire at the force corrupting it from within, they are instead fighting rearguard battles against their old enemy, seeking to weaken a current Democratic presidency in order to pave the way for a Republican to be named later.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        “It seems to me that like Rosenstein they are seeking to preserve what’s left of the GOP as they knew it; rather than aim their fire at the force corrupting it from within…”

        Sorry. I don’t buy it. If you really want to preserve the GOP the very first priority is to get rid of Trumpists and/or Putinists root and branch. Could their priorities be skewed, with some idea of ‘not disturbing things too much?’ Maybe, but that’s just the lite version of ‘letting Trump win.’

        • PieIsDamnGood says:

          I don’t think there’s as much difference between the old GOP and Tumpists as you’re assuming. There are stylistic differences but the goals and strategy is basically unchanged. They want a white, christian, male dominated society and are happy to trample the rule of law to get it.

      • emptywheel says:

        I don’t think they are Trumpies.

        I think Weiss is a weak man who caved, possibly under threats of the sort that are not yet obvious.

        I think Hur is trying hard to overcompensate for distrust of rule of law, but in a way prosecutorial way that always ends up harming rule of law.

        • GKJames25 says:

          Trumper or not, when Hur concerns himself with the rule of law rather than limiting his mission to the facts and law before him, isn’t he (i) creating yet further distrust; and (ii) giving — even if it’s not his intent — ammunition to Trumpers?

          [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

        • P’villain says:

          It doesn’t help that Trump has already groomed his followers to believe that Hur is essentially a RINO synchophant, which will give any criticism of Biden additional weight in their eyes.

    • Scott_in_MI says:

      DOJ’s regulations stipulate that the SC must deliver a closing report to the AG, who must then provide the chair and ranking member of the Congressional Judiciary Committees with a summary and notification of any instances where the AG determined that a proposed action was unwarranted. The regs explicitly leave determinations of public release in the hands of the AG.

      Source: https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-28/chapter-VI/part-600

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think Garland has policed reports. He should have. A good third of Durham’s was in no way a prosecutorial decision.

      The regulations are clear about what the report is. Durham broke the rules. The report should have been narrowed.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        I’m thinking that AG Garland’s policy was in reaction to how AG Barr massaged the reports he got. As the saying goes, a thin pope after a fat pope.

  3. Upisdown says:

    I’m waiting for the first media use of the word “scathing” in their coverage of Hur’s report.

    They are as predictable as they are supine.

  4. harpie says:

    Feb 8, 2024 · 5:01 PM UTC

    New: The White House counsel’s office has concluded its review of Special Counsel Hur’s report on Biden’s handling of classified documents.

    President Biden “declined to assert privilege over any portion of the report,” per @IanSams46.

    Report will now go to Congress. [screenshot]

    [Feb 8, 2024 · 7:25 PM UTC] Update: Special Counsel Hur’s report has been delivered to Congress, sources tell me & @HBRabinowitz.

    Lawmakers received a hard copy, per source familiar.

    • harpie says:

      From the screenshot:

      “We notified the Justice Department at approximately 9:00 this morning that our privilege review has concluded,” spokesman for the White House counsel’s office Ian Sams said in a statement Thursday. “In keeping with his commitment to cooperation and transparency throughout this investigation, the President declined to assert privilege over any portion of the report.”

    • harpie says:

      And here’s a THREAD from former CIA lawyer Brian Greer:

      Feb 8, 2024 · 8:47 PM UTC

      It’s important to speak truth to power, & I cannot defend Biden’s conduct here. Yes, it’s vastly different than Trump’s, & I don’t quibble with Hur’s analysis as to why charges are not warranted. But like Clinton & many other senior officials, his hubris clouded his judgment. [THREAD]

      The more difficult comparison than Trump is to the Petraeus case. There are many similarities. Key differences appear to be: Biden may have had authority to store them at home initially, he’s a more more sympathetic defendant, there was stronger evidence of guilty intent with DP

      …and DP initially lied to the investigators.

      Oh yeah, and Biden wasn’t sleeping with his ghostwriter!!!

      Anyway…sigh. [end]

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Hur seems to have concluded that Joe Biden “willfully retained” classified documents, but the DoJ declined to prosecute. A delicate act of fence sitting, which leaves the impression that a crime was committed. Hur places a lot of emphasis on, we’re being kind to a forgetful old man in his eighties, as a way to avoid admitting that any case would have been weak on the law and facts.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Any similarity with Donald Trump’s “willful retention” of scores of boxes of extremely sensitive govt information seems intended, but factually…weak.

      I find it slightly hilarious that among the items Biden allegedly retained were one or more notebooks Biden created that allegedly contained his written analyses, which incorporated classified information.

      Other than his famous leatherbound scrapbook, which he kept close at hand, did Trump create or retain anything in which he wrote or analyzed anything more vital than a McDonald’s menu? I ask in partial refutation of the “forgetful old man” meme Hur seems to have settle on.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Three hundred eighty-one pages, including one appendix, a two-page introduction, and a five-page critique from Biden’s WHC and personal attorney. A lot of stuff to conclude, nothing to see here, just a forgetful, well-intentioned old man who took the wrong stuff home from work. Move along.

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