Robert Hur’s Box-Checking

In the middle of his explanation for why he believed that Joe Biden had willfully retained classified records pertaining to Afghanistan but that he couldn’t prove that beyond a reasonable doubt, Special Counsel Robert Hur admitted that jurors “who are unwilling to read too much into” what Hur describes as an 8-word utterance would find his case lacking.

But reasonable jurors who are unwilling to read too much into Mr. Biden’s brief aside to Zwonitzer–“I just found all the classified stuff downstairs”–may find a shortage of evidence to establish that Mr. Biden looked through the “Facts First” folder, which is the only folder known to contain national defense information. These jurors would acquit Mr. Biden of willfully retaining national defense information from the “Facts First” folder.

I’m puzzled how this is not a confession that he, Hur, was really reading too much into two file folders the FBI found in a box in Biden’s garage.

Indeed, that’s what two bizarre chapters in his story are, Hur the novelist, spinning a story about this box because, he admitted much earlier, this is the best he’s got.

As explained in Chapter Eleven, the strongest case for criminal charges against Mr. Biden relating to the Afghanistan documents would rest on his retention of the documents at the Virginia home in 2017.

The only other retained documents he even considered charging were Biden’s diaries, which Biden seems to have kept under the Presidential Records Act’s exclusion of diaries from the definition of Presidential Records (though Hur included a picture of Biden taking notes in one of these notebooks during a key meeting in the Situation Room, so that notebook, at least, was a Presidential Record).

(3) The term “personal records” means all documentary materials, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof, of a purely private or nonpublic character which do not relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President. Such term includes–

(A) diaries, journals, or other personal notes serving as the functional equivalent of a diary or journal which are not prepared or utilized for, or circulated or communicated in the course of, transacting Government business;

To sustain his claim that those notebooks represented willful retention that he couldn’t prove, Hur got in a squabble about the precedent set by Ronald Reagan’s diaries, which similarly included classified information, but which weren’t charged even after they became key evidence in the Iran-Contra investigation. Biden had a precedent to rely on, and so Hur didn’t charge.

So left with only the box in the garage to appease the Republicans, Hur worked backward from this reference in a conversation Biden had with his ghost writer in 2017, the 66-word utterance on which he built a 388-page report:

So this was – I, early on, in ’09-I just found all the classified stuff downstairs-I wrote the President a handwritten 40-page memorandum arguing against deploying additional troops to Iraq-I mean, to Afghanistan-on the grounds that it wouldn’t matter, that the day we left would be like the day before we arrived. And I made the same argument … I wrote that piece 11 or 12 years ago. [my emphasis]

Only Hur didn’t call it a 66-word utterance. He called it an 8-word utterance, repeating those bolded eight words 23 times in the report without mention of the 40-page memorandum that Biden mentioned in the same sentence. Only once did he provide the full context.

Biden’s attorneys argued that given that Biden mentioned it in the very same sentence, it’s more likely that Biden was referring to that memo than two folders of documents found in a box in Biden’s garage.

We believe that an accurate recitation of the evidence on this point would recognize the strong likelihood that the President was referring in the recording to his private handwritten letter to President Obama — the one mentioned on this recording immediately after the eight words that you are focused on — rather than the marked classified Afghanistan documents discovered in the Wilmington garage.

There were drafts of the memo — which Biden wrote over Thanksgiving in 2009 in an attempt to dissuade President Obama from surging more troops into Afghanistan — in the box in the garage, but the FBI found the hand-written memo itself stored elsewhere in Biden’s Wilmington home. It too had classified information in it, but Hur treated it like the diaries it was found in, something Biden wrongly treated as a personal document.

Because these documents on Afghanistan were the only thing he had, Hur went to some length to spin a story that might be consistent with Biden finding those documents in a rental house in Virginia in early 2017 and, just weeks after having sent other marked classified documents back to the Naval Observatory, deciding to keep them.

Part of that involved telling two stories, which narratively collapse events from 2017 with the discovery of the documents in question, to provide motive.

Hur’s first attempt suggested that Biden willfully retained these documents to help write his book, Promise Me, Dad, on which he was working with the ghost writer to whom he mentioned classified documents.


Like many presidents, Mr. Biden has long viewed himself as a historic figure. Elected to the Senate at age twenty-nine, he considered running for president as early as 1980 and did so in 1988, 2008, and 2020. During his thirty-six years in the Senate, Mr. Biden believed he had built a record in both domestic and foreign affairs that made him worthy of the presidency.

In addition to the notebooks and notecards on which he took notes throughout his vice presidency, Mr. Biden collected papers and artifacts related to noteworthy issues and events in his public life. He used these materials to write memoirs published in 2007 and 2017, to document his legacy, and to cite as evidence that he was a man of presidential timber.

Only, that story didn’t work, because Promise Me, Dad wasn’t about Afghanistan, it was about Beau’s death and Biden’s subsequent decision not to run for President in 2016. And while Hur tried to fudge what surely was the result of a classification review, that book had no classified information in it.

As Biden’s attorneys noted, not only wasn’t Promise Me, Dad about Afghanistan, but Biden never wrote a book — never intended to write a book — about this Afghanistan policy dispute.

Your report erroneously (and repeatedly) makes statements about the value of the marked classified Afghanistan documents to President Biden, such as President Biden had a “strong motive” to keep them and they were an “irreplaceable contemporaneous record” like the notebooks. Report at 203. 231. These statements are contrary to the evidence and the documents themselves. First the President forcefully testified that he “never thought about writing a book about the 2009 Afghanistan policy review. Tr., Day II at 22. Thus, the President had no need to retain the documents for that purpose.

So Hur tried again in the following chapter. This time his story — one relying primarily on books other people wrote — Obama, Stan McChrystal, and Robert Gates, with only Ron Klain backing it with witness testimony — was that Biden needed the documents for vindication, when Afghanistan turned into America’s Vietnam. Secret vindication, I guess, given that Biden didn’t use this in the 2020 election.

To fully appreciate Mr. Biden’s references to Afghanistan in his conversation with Zwonitzer on February 16. 2017, it is helpful to understand Mr. Biden’s place in the fraught debate about American policy in Afghanistan in the early days of the Obama administration.

In that debate. Mr. Biden played a conspicuous role. He strongly opposed the military’s effort to send large numbers of U.S. troops to Afghanistan, and this opposition culminated in the lengthy handwritten memo Mr. Biden sent President Obama over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2009. By 2017, Mr. Biden believed his judgment as reflected in the memo had been vindicated by history. Years later, in December 2022 and January 2023. FBI agents found the handwritten Thanksgiving memo and marked classified documents containing his advice to President Obama in Mr. Biden’s Delaware home.

This is a closing argument. This language is wildly inappropriate in a declination memo, because Hur didn’t find the evidence to back this story!

Worse still, it’s stupid. Because all Biden needed for vindication was that 40-page memo, the one he mentioned in the very same sentence as he mentioned the classified documents. The one stored inside the house, not in a discarded box in the garage. The one he never used during the 2020 election.

But Hur was undeterred by a stupid motive argument.

Next, after admitting that the FBI never succeeded in tracing the Afghan documents, much less proving they were in the basement of the Virginia house, he used this photo analysis to claim that the box found in the garage is the same one that appeared in two pictures taken in Biden’s Wilmington office in 2019, shortly after everything was shipped from Virginia to Delaware.

Maybe that’s right? Or maybe (as some people argued in this thread on Xitter) the D on the box in the garage is shaped differently and in a different place on the box lid than the one in the picture. Whatever it is, it’s no smoking gun.

Finally, Hur goes to the contents of the box, claiming — with some justification — that some of the things in the box date to the same period when Biden uttered those 8 or maybe 66 words to his ghost writer.

Several folders in the garage box contained materials that Mr. Eiden appears to have accessed both shortly before and shortly after February 16 2017, the day Mr. Biden told Zwonitzer he had “just found classified documents downstairs. 582 For example, in January 2017 less than a month before told Zwonitzer he had just found the classified documents downstairs, Mr. Biden appears to have accessed documents later found in the box. On January 23, 2017. Biden wrote a notebook entry about a call scheduled for later that to finalize a deal with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a talent agency that went on to represent him in negotiating his book deal for Promise Me, Dad. 583 The same entry also referenced Mr. Biden’s work with his sister on his “S Corp.”584

The box found in Mr. Biden’s garage contained a corresponding file folder, labeled “Signed Contracts Penn, CAA,” which contained the signature page of a final agreement between Mr. Biden and Creative Artists Agency.585 Mr. Biden signed the agreement, which was dated a few days after the notebook entry, on January 26, 2017.586 The folder also contained the final agreement between Mr. Biden and the Penn Biden Center-Mr. Biden’s primary employer after his vice presidency-which Mr. Biden signed, also on January 26, 2017. 587 And the folder contained a W-9 tax form for Mr. Biden’s S corporation, CelticCapri, which Mr. Biden used to receive income from book deals and speeches, among other purposes.588 The W-9 form listed Mr. Biden as the president of the S corporation and was signed by Mr. Biden and dated January 30, 2017-less than three weeks before Mr. Biden told Zwonitzer he had just found classified documents downstairs.589

The argument would be more persuasive, admittedly, if Hur didn’t confess that the FBI got the documents that had been in the box out of order when they repackaged them.

When FBI agents repackaged the contents of the ripped garage box into a new box on December 21, 2022, it appears the order of a few of the materials changed slightly. This chapter discusses in detail below two folders that contained marked classified documents about Afghanistan: the manila “Afganastan” folder and the red “Facts First” folder. It appears the “Afganastan” folder was near the “Facts First” folder in the garage box when agents recovered the box, but the precise original location of the “Afganastan” folder at that time is unknown.

Dudes. This was a consensual search of the President’s home, and you couldn’t even repackage documents competently? Really?

This argument would be more persuasive still if Hur weren’t ignoring some of the other things that were found in the box, that had nothing to do with Biden’s transition in 2017, which Biden’s attorneys described this way:

Your characterization of the box in the garage as containing only matters of “great personal significance” to the President is inconsistent with the facts. The evidence shows that this tattered box contained a random assortment of documents. including plainly unimportant ones such as: a short-term vacation lease; a VP-era memorandum on furniture at the Naval Observatory for purchase; talking points from speeches; campaign material; empty folders; a 1995 document commemorating Syracuse Law’s 100-year anniversary; and other random materials. In his interview. President Biden commented regarding one of the folders, which read “Pete Rouse”: “Christ that goes back a way,” confirming that he had not encountered that material in recent years. Tr., Day I, at 144. When asked how things like a binder labeled “Beau Iowa” got into the “beat-up” box. the President responded “Somebody must’ve, packing this up, just picked up all the stuff and put it in a box, because I didn’t.” Id. at 146. When asked about the later-dated material, the President responded: “[s]ee, that’s what makes me think just people gathered up whatever they found, and whenever the last thing was being moved. So the stuff moving out of the Vice President’s residence, at the end of the day, whatever they found. they put – they didn’t separate it out, you know, Speakers Bureau and Penn or whatever the hell it is. or Beau. They just put it in a single box. That’s the only thing I can think of.” Id. at 147. Some of the documents in the box contain what appears to be staff handwriting–including a D.C. tax return and a W2-further indicating that the box was likely filled by staff. We believe that an accurate recitation of the evidence on this point would include a description of these facts.

The true jumble of the box is particularly important because, elsewhere, Hur used the similar miscellany in a different box to rule out the possibility of willful retention for some of the documents found at the Penn Biden Center.

Finally, several of the files in the box where the EYES ONLY envelope was found appear to have been forgotten files of little value to Mr. Biden, such as the file about a 2011 ski trip. The files, therefore, do not appear to be a set that Mr. Biden personally curated. Nor do they appear to be the type of files people keep close as a matter of course in their everyday lives.

Hur adopted a different standard where it was clear only staffers were involved in packing a box than he did with a box that was central to “the strongest case for criminal charges against Mr. Biden.” Hur needed this box to be personally curated by Joe Biden, and so he omitted a bunch of random stuff that would debunk his story.

Still, this entire investigation should never have gotten this far, to where Hur was doing desperate last interviews three months after Biden’s own interview, to where Hur was spending 156 pages describing his declination decisions, and so in the process describing every single document at length.

To get there, Hur did something almost unheard of in declination decisions for 18 USC 793(e) cases: He treated “failure to deliver” as affirmative. Bizarrely, when he gets to the part of his discussion of the statute where he describes having to prove that Biden refused to deliver National Defense Information documents to an appropriate government official, he pivots, changes the subject, mid-paragraph.

Finally, the government must prove that a defendant willfully retained the material and failed to deliver it to an officer or employee “entitled to receive” the information. The statute does not define who is “entitled to receive” the information, so again, courts have looked to the governing rules concerning the handling of classified materials, primarily the executive order. 758 Generally, those entitled to receive the information are people with the requisite security clearance and the need to know. 759 Willfulness is a heightened mens rea, which as articulated by the Supreme Court in Bryan v. United States, requires proof “that the defendant acted with knowledge that his conduct was unlawful.” 760 Under the Espionage Act, an act is willful when “it is done voluntarily and intentionally and with the specific intent to do something that the law forbids. That is to say, with a bad purpose either to disobey or to disregard the law.” 761 While willfulness requires proving an intent to disobey the law, courts have applied Bryan’s standard of “simple willfulness” to Section 793(e) and rejected any need for the government to prove an intent to cause harm. 762

Accordingly, to prove a violation of Section 793(e) we would need to show that Mr. Biden knowingly retained national defense information and failed to deliver it to an appropriate government official, and that he knew this conduct was unlawful. [bizarre pivot] As discussed in more detail below, because of the interrelation between “national defense information” and “classified information,” when evaluating a potential Section 793(e) charge, the Department considers whether the information the person possessed was classified and whether the person knew it was classified.

In doing so, he dodges (here) the difficulty with charging a President with 793(e): That unlike actual clearance holders, Biden was never processed out of a clearance, which is where prosecutors fulfill that prong of the elements of offense when charging 793(e) along with other crimes, like leaking. When people with clearance leave their job, they’re reminded they have to give stuff back; because he wasn’t processed out of a clearance, Biden never got that talk.

Hur then wanders off a little ways, then returns to the question of delivering classified documents to someone entitled to receive them, by purporting to distinguish 793(e) from 793(d).

Subsection (d) also does not apply, because it requires a failure to deliver materials on demand, and when asked to return any classified materials from his vice presidency, Mr. Biden consented to searches and returned all potentially classified materials that were discovered. 767

Nuh uh! That’s not the difference between (d) and (e). The main difference is whether someone is authorized to have classified information or not.

(d) lawfully having possession … or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;

(e) unauthorized possession … or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it

Even for dirtbags like Jeremy Brown, DOJ generally only charges a retention charge absent something else after an officer asks for documents back. In Brown’s case, for example, they called an officer who had asked for the specific charged documents back to testify at trial to prove that prong of the elements of offense. And because Joe Biden was never processed out of a clearance, because the Archives never came looking for these, no one ever asked him to give the documents back.

Until he offered the documents up.

This entire report, all 388 pages of it, is based on a wild misrepresentation of how DOJ approaches Espionage Act prosecutions. And to the extent it’s not — to the extent that Hur is clinging to events caught on tape back in 2017 — the Statutes of Limitation have long expired.

And that gives up the game, even more than Robert Hur’s confession that jurors who weren’t, as he spent a year doing, “read[ing] too much into” some documents found in a box, would never convict on this.

Hur spent a year trying to find facts that would allow him to charge Joe Biden, charge a President, doing backflips with the evidence along the way, and then writing up a report that provides far more evidence about 40 year old documents covered by Speech and Debate than we’ll ever learn about the stolen documents at Mar-a-Lago.

This was never an ethical prosecutorial pursuit. It was always about writing a novel for a rabid audience.

Or, as you might consider it, just an exercise in box-ticking for partisan ends.

Update: I’ve been corrected: The SOL on Espionage Act is 10 years.

255 replies
  1. EW Moderation Team says:

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    • WilliamOckham says:

      I want to take a moment to express my profound gratitude for a feature of this site that I expect a few of you have never noticed. Up towards the top left-hand side of every page is a little widget that says “RESIZE YOUR FONT”. For most folks, that’s a little convenience item. For the last few months, it’s been the thing that kept me connected to this site.

      About six months ago, my vision started to worsen significantly. Reading a computer screen became increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, my day job is staring at computer screen all day long.

      Fortunately, the fact that my day job involves being a software developer and generally a master of all things technical, means that I know most of the tricks for managing visual output on a computer screen. All of them involve various complex trade-offs. I was able to cope with it, but just barely.

      Except here, it was incredibly easy. I just hit the big A when I needed to make the font bigger so that I could read the posts and comments here. No continually going into the browser menu to increase the magnification or using the magnifier app. That might not sound like much of a difference in effort. For me, it was everything.

      Now, for the good news for me personally. My vision issues were correctable. On Wednesday, I had my second cataract surgery and by one day post-op, my vision was 20/20, which is much better than anyone should expect, by the way. I can start pushing the little A now to make the font smaller. I feel really weird talking about my health issues publicly. I just didn’t know any other way to express how much that silly little widget has meant to me. When you find yourself in a constant struggle to cope with “the thing you do all day, every day”, anything that makes your life a little more comfortable is meaningful.

      • emptywheel says:

        Glad to hear it was reversible.

        The thing about having old-timers, as we do, is that some of them have old-timer eyes.

      • Matt___B says:

        I’ve been taking advantage of that feature for quite a while now. Saves me from having to search for where I last left my reading glasses…

      • says:

        WO –

        So happy to welcome you into the “we need accessibility tools” community, yet still greatful your eyes let you retire from it in 6 months! It can, indeed, take time to honestly observe our frailties and even harder to seek help, so thanks for your courage and candor!

        And hope I can highlight some other disability-friendly features to help other readers:
        + For ADHDers with impulsivity problems —
        if you click on the printer by the font-sizing letters, you get a clean page without Marcy’s hyperlinks that you know you will click on and get completely pulled down the rabbit hole. This is similar to your browser’s “reader” view, but a more accurate rendering, in my experience.
        + For dyslexics or car-commute-readers (listeners) —
        Marcy’s formatting is text-to-speech (TTS) EXCEPTIONALLY friendly, but note that your reader will likely skip embedded tweets, pictures, and — occasionally — bulleted lists for some odd reason. Also, you have to listen carefully for block quote transitions. But Marcy has cleverly built in a cue for mind-drifters — the word “snip,” which she uses to denote omitting quoted text.

        This means you need a TTS reader app that can backup 1 or 2 sentences. I’ve tried 4 different ones, and on Android, T2S is best. It can display a little box showing being-read text, which you can click on for full page view with Victor Borge-like highlighting. Available ad-free in play store or Aurora. After install, access using browser’s “share” feature.

        + Bonus for California practioners or CA court-filing readers, or deposition-laden lawyers — T2S also reads pdfs and lets you block out line numbers and double headers, as well as long footnotes containing only html links or multi-line document numbers.

        I use Sally’s Ivona voice which is the closest I’ve found for Marcy’s, fyi!

        • WilliamOckham says:

          Great suggestions, tje. The thing is for at least the last 10 years or so, I’ve pushed hard on the projects I’ve worked on to get more resources for accessibility. It’s obviously the right thing to do. It’s not an easy sell because the folks I work for are generally in it for the money and accessibility is seen as an add-on with a negative ROI.

          I’ve come to the conclusion that the government of Ontario has the right idea, even though their approach is definitely the blunt instrument approach. Their rule is that if you want sell stuff on the web and you have a physical location in Ontario, you are required to make your site accessible (and since it’s in Canada, multi-lingual as well). I only know this because I worked on an ecommerce project for a large U.S. based retailer of home improvement goods with some stores in Ontario and the .ca site is the only one that meets WCAG accessibility standards. The team I worked on built a lot of infrastructure to retrofit multi-lingual capabilities and accessibility into a system that was designed without either. And there was zero interest in extending that to the .com site.

          [I would appreciate it no one speculates on which large retailer I’m referring to. I don’t want to cause problems for my friends who still work there.]

          • Harry Eagar says:

            I will have to discuss that with my son, who manages IT for an internet bank. We have never talked about accessibility. He has enough and more to do with keeping up-to-date with multiple platforms.

      • A Better Mitch says:

        Well, since you’ve opened the floodgates for visually challenged whiners, I too have loved that feature, but the great news for me is I no longer need it. Both eyes have had detached retina surgery, cataract surgery, laser surgery for post cataract capsule growth, persistent swelling post-op in 1 macula for many months, and an exam 2 days ago showed the swelling gone. All this happened in under 2 yrs., and now I see as well as I did as a kid. No glasses, seems like a miracle.

      • timbozone says:

        Huh. I don’t see this feature on the webpage through my browser. Could it be a component that is being blocked by my two ad blocking extensions? Oh wait! There it is on the right side of the article pane! I’ll check it out if needed; generally, I just use zoom in and out provided by the browser I’m in so I never even looked for such a feature on the website!

      • -mamake- says:

        Thank you, Wm O., for sharing this. Everyone falls along the continuum of various abilities and capacities. I’m glad this issue was correctable. AND, I too appreciate this feature as well as the generally “don’t have to think about the format” nature of this site. I’ve reluctantly (bec I am not a tech person) designed/built college courses in several different platforms. My goal was always to make all points of entry & engagement as simple and clean as possible so that content was dominant. This site is among the best I’ve encountered in terms of my personal online comfort zone.
        Again, glad you mentioned this and that your sight improved.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Thank you, William, for bringing how we physically interface with the EW site into the conversation. For those of us with movement disorders (I have atypical Parkinsonism, with severe tremor) *and* vision issues, the Edit function can make the difference between posting what we intended and embarrassing ourselves.

        Just my vote for the Edit key!

        • Baltimark says:

          I do much the same with my primary Emptywheel reading device, an iPad Pro. But of course the ceiling of convenience on either of these techniques is the point at which the degree of zoom for easy letter recognition pushes line widths beyond the lateral boundaries of the screen; tracking back and forth line by line is no fun. I’m nowhere near that point but for those here who are, the font-resizing option combined with the site’s lovely minimalist HTML ensures adequate letter size AND browser-width-contained lines are both easily achievable.

      • Legonaut says:

        In addition to the font-resize feature, which I use occasionally (especially early/late when my eyes aren’t entirely functional), I’d like to applaud the cleanliness & speed of the site’s implementation. I keep a Chrome tab open here, and whenever my WiFi flakes or I suspect a bandwidth issue, I can reliably refresh Emptywheel and get either a quick reload (when all is well) or abject failure (when all is not). No cruft, insane amounts of DNS lookups, etc. I really appreciate the commitment to a clean, ad/tracker-free experience; when next I have gainful employment (and hence a budget) I plan to contribute to keep it that way.

        Thanks again!

  2. Njrun says:

    Biggest question I have is why Garland and the DOJ approved publishing a report with such inappropriate material. Second biggest is how Hur could have been selected to do this investigation. They couldn’t they find one honest and professional lawyer?

    • kpavlovic says:

      Well, you likely won’t ever find out the answer to your question and likely won’t ever find out what game Garland and DOJ were playing here.

    • Robert of Had says:

      According to MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin, Biden made the decision for them to release it unredacted, and likely without being reviewed first, in the interest of “transparency.”

        • xyxyxyxy says:

          Over decades, Biden has sounded like, acted like he lost it.
          Like when he did inappropriate things around female strangers around the period of the 2020 election run.
          So he is not just now losing it.

          • jibal_CHANGE-REQD says:

            This is libel, on top of all the other libel coming from Hur and the treatment of this report by the right wing and the MSM.

            [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters **AS NOTED IN THE FIRST COMMENT OF THIS THREAD.** We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Thanks. /~Rayne]

            • xyxyxyxy says:

              It appears I am wrong on the “inappropriate things around female strangers”.
              Thanks for pointing that out.

      • emptywheel says:

        His attorneys reviewed it and submitted complaints, as noted in this post. The report was released with the complaints.

        • bmaz says:

          Eh, the question is not that, but if Biden really decided the scope of the report, he could have treated it differently. This is still Garland saying he would publish it all, do you have any comments.

          • Peterr says:

            I think Garland was trying very much NOT to invite comparisons with Bill Barr trying to mischaracterize the Mueller Report prior to its release.

            • Njrun says:

              Yeah that may be but it is dumb. You don’t have to be corrupt to ensure that the work in your jurisdiction is done professionally.

              A Democratic AG doesn’t have to cover up crimes committed by the guy who appointed him, but at least he could prevent the DOJ from doing a hit job and writing it up for the benefit of Fox News.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I believe the AG has authority to review and require changes to a special counsel’s report. In an apparent attempt to avoid the appearance of political interference, he seems to have enabled political interference.

            • CovariantTensor says:

              I think it was a lose-lose situation. Garland couldn’t redact the inappropriate parts of the report without it being publicly known he had done so, right? Then the Republican Noise Machine would be screaming from the rooftops wanting to know what was in the report that the “Biden crime family” wanted redacted.

              • Rayne says:

                Nor could he pull a Bill Barr day-before-release pronouncement to the press which tainted the perception of the report to follow. GOP would have squealed like stuck pigs.

          • Tania says:

            I suspect he figured someone would leak it so it was better to just put it out, lest the DOJ/WH be accused of hiding it.

    • Rethfernhim says:

      Garland and the DOJ were in a no-win situation. Had they not published, or had they edited or redacted portions, they were setting up different, perhaps more damaging, public relations brouhaha: Garland covers up for Biden! Deep State hiding Biden crimes!

      Hur was selected for the same reason: no one could claim he was in on the fix. There was no crime, and he wasn’t going to find one.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        All that’s needed politically is the appearance or mere question of a a crime. Trump & Co., will take it from there. For them, Bob Hur did his job: he provided a cornucopia of data, with the official imprimatur of the DoJ, that can be endlessly cherry-picked.

        • Rethfernhim says:

          Agree 100%

          And any decision, once those classified documents came to light, would be used as fodder for the noise machine. The challenge for the DOJ and Garland was how to minimize the hay that could be made (while getting to the bottom of what really happened).

          When I play out the story assuming different prosecutors or editing the report, it’s unclear that the long-term impact would be better. As others have noted, we’ll never really know.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          Yup… in total agreement…

          Even from a layman’s perspective, this is stunning and more than a little infuriating…

          From the Wapo:

          “The report described the 81-year-old Democrat’s memory as “hazy,” “fuzzy,” “faulty,” “poor” and having “significant limitations.”

          Jeezus… what is that sort of out and out subjective commentary even doing in a report like this? Is this why Hur refused to let anyone see the report before it was released… just so he could carpet bomb the opposition w/ no warning?

          And now we can all just sit back and wait for shrieks about the 25th Amendment to erupt in certain quarters…

          • Peterr says:

            They were already doing that last night, within hours of the report’s release. From The Hill at 10:39pm ET:

            Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) called on members of the Biden administration to “explore” removing President Biden under the 25th Amendment after a special counsel cleared him of wrongdoing but painted him as an elderly man with a failing memory. . . .

            • TooLoose LeTruck says:

              Well… well…

              Of COURSE they are!

              Just google ‘Biden + 25th amendment’ and see how many shrieks of indignation and furious demands for Biden’s immediate removal are already flying around in the air…

              • e.a. foster says:

                Guess that is why the words were used in the report. But, what really do the words: fuzzy,hazy, poor, etc all really mean. They aren’t medical words. hazy is the fog we have at the Vancouver International airport every November. Fuzzy, that is how a lot of the world wakes up most mornings because they’re hung over, been up all night with a screaming baby or it can mean the texture of fabric. Significant limitations, he has to be more exact than that. Most people have significant limitations but it depends upon the limitations as to whether they impact some one’s ability to do something. Like the writer of this report. I’d suggest he has “significant limitations”, regarding his writing. He isn’t capable of using the english language cleverly enough to avoid being accused of doing what he’s doing–trying to imply Biden has sort of lost his marbles.
                If you’re going to say that about someone, you just can’t make allegations, you have to provide a few e.g.s
                What the report describes is what some people with migraines experience: fuzzy, hazy. Some one with a migraine, you can explain something to them 3, 4 times and they still won’t understand and yet on the other hand can do other things quite well.
                This report may make some republicans happy, but to others it just looks like a dumb ass attempt at trying to get some one, any one to use that amendment that you can remove people, I think its either a 14th or 25th amendment. Well I’m not American so I can’t remember the whole American Constituion.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Straight from Trump’s order book. He was deeply embarrassed that some of his Cabinet considered using it against him, for good reasons. He wants Joe Biden similarly embarrassed, regardless of or because it’s not warranted.

              • Zinsky123 says:

                I think that’s right, Earl. Trump is all about revenge and retribution. He wants to humiliate Biden, not just defeat him electorally. Same with the bogus Biden impeachment effort. I think people on the liberal side of the fence need to steel themselves every morning in 2024 because the disinformation and propaganda campaign is going to be intense. Fox and the right-wing choir here and the Russian trolls are all going to be using the “Biden is old and senile” meme endlessly like they did with the “Hillary is sick and going to die” meme in 2016. Conservatives and fascists tend to not be creative thinkers. They use the same plays over and over and over again…

          • freebird says:

            I defy anyone who says that they have instant memories of things that happened over the course of 52 years without having the item refreshed in your memory. Hur’s argument only works if he gave the items to Biden beforehand and then asked him about them. Even then, the items could have been of trivial importance where anyone could forget them. Plus, anyone’s memory is fuzzy while dealing with other serious issues.

            The assertions are like trying to put someone in jail for not remembering what they ate at the 4th of July picnic in 2017.

        • timbozone says:

          Is it just me, or are the MAGAs seeming to waste their time on piddling details that most voters won’t care about in a few weeks/months? Seriously, if the MAGAs want to waste their time believing this is some sort of important campaign issue, maybe it’s best to let them waste their hot air on it. I also note that the DP and its CTRE are going to have a field day counterposing all of Trump’s gaffs with any attempted takedown of Biden over this report.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Yes, Hur did his job. He handed the ball off to the New York Times, which has devoted its front page to exploding the Biden Age Questions into 2024’s But Her Emails. The Times has disgusted me before, but this time I cancelled my subscription.

        • Joeff_CHANGE-REQD says:

          The own goals are starting to pile up (failure to keep IDF on short leash) and it’s starting to get worrisome.

          [Moderator’s note: FINAL REQUEST: This is the last comment which will clear for publication until you change your username and use it consistently. You have been asked repeatedly to comply with the site’s standard naming convention and ignored these requests; you’ve also ignored the first comment in two threads inside 24 hours in which the naming convention was requested and spelled out. You have used at least 4 usernames of which only “Joeff1953” was compliant, and you haven’t used it since December 2022. /~Rayne]

          • John A Gurley says:

            How would President Biden keep Israeli President Bibi Netanyahou “on a leash”, exactly, since Bibi has the committed support of the Republican party?

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Well, the AG does have the final say, but for me after considering the reviews in the sane world I can only guess that AG Garland though that release o the whole thing instead of a summary like Barr did.

    • pleitter says:

      What everyone should take away from the Hur report and emphasize to others is that Garland & Biden are upholding democracy & the rule of law. Biden, unlike Trump, does NOT ask for special favors & Garland, unlike Barr, does NOT give special favors.

        • jibal_CHANGE-REQD says:

          pleitter makes a valid point. It’s clear that many people here are far more interested in attacking and complaining about Garland and Biden than in actually doing what it takes to further the progressive cause.

          [Moderator’s note: see comment at 12:15 a.m. ET.]

          • punaise says:

            Sorry, I’m with Digby on this subject:

            When will Democrats understand that they get no points for being nonpartisan?

            But Special Prosecutor Robert Hur is a Republican, Trump-appointed Justice Department holdover who, once again, was appointed by a Democratic Attorney General in order to prove just how “non-partisan” the department is. So Hur wrote a voluminous 388 page report which most legal observers believe could have been done in 50, if not less. He could have simply said he declined to prosecute and left it at that but what he did was nothing less than a partisan hit job masquerading as a prosecutorial declination.

            Despite laying out in detail that he could find no evidence that Biden committed any crime, making it clear that what he did do was far less egregious than what Trump is accused of doing and declaring that he would not prosecute Biden even if he were out of office, Hur wrote what amounts to a chatty little novel about what he thinks of Biden’s personality and mental capabilities. …

            It’s a nasty piece of slander that Hur no doubt believed served the purpose of preserving his place in MAGAworld without him having to recommend charges based on nothing.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Apart from Hur’s chatty little novel being a nasty piece of libel, not slander, I agree.

              The Dems need a few people at the top who recognize that tea on the vicarage lawn is neither polite nor benign. It is often a vicious, intense competition for status, place and resources, without which their programs will go nowhere.

              • ExRacerX says:

                I know you’re not given to hyperbole, earl, so if it’s libelous, what are the odds on Biden filing & winning a civil suit for damages?

                • BRUCE F COLE says:

                  There will be no suit because this was not libel. A charge of defamation based on a published *opinion* (especially an opinion rendered in a prosecutorial setting) is a non-starter, and the bar is highest, requiring proof of malice, when a public figure is the plaintiff.

                  Hur’s opinion can be disputed in public as Biden’s atty has done:

                  “Biden’s personal attorney Bob Bauer accused the special counsel of violating ‘well-established’ norms and ‘trashing’ the president.

                  ‘The special counsel could not refrain from investigative excess, perhaps unsurprising given the intense pressures of the current political environment. Whatever the impact of those pressures on the final report, it flouts department regulations and norms.’ ”

                  But that, and perhaps lobbying Garland to launch an investigation into the excesses that Marcy and others have laid out, is about all Biden has in his quiver for this target.

                  Of course he also has the most powerful option, that of putting himself front and center in the public eye with lots of extemporaneous speaking opportunities. Unfortunately, he’s been avoiding that (yesterday’s Super Bowl traditional POTUS interview no-show being a prime example), which will only exacerbate the situation for him going forward.

                  • Rayne says:

                    Oh gods, again with the Super Bowl appearance bullshit? Have you paid any attention to what happened yesterday beyond that one sporting event? Do you have any fucking ken what would have been made of his appearance virtually or in person at a ball game while that genocidal asshole Netanyahu gave Biden a massive fuck-you by bombing the fuck out of Rafah?

                    I’m waiting for the blowback on the social media posts as it is, though the White House social media team likely did those.

                    • BRUCE F COLE says:

                      His plate is beyond full, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s also no doubt about the fact that he’s avoiding all manner of public speaking engagements, especially unscripted.

                      He did take a press conference 4 days ago right after this report was released, and he began with a scripted commentary on it that was well delivered.

                      And he did take questions after that speech, but that was very problematic in that it included the al Sisi/Mexico flub as well as stage-presence issues and a press gaggle that he had virtually no control over — even his gait coming and going to the podium is stiff and vigor-less. You can say I’m making it up, but watching it is not awe inspiring.

                      Right now there’s an event on YouTube, him speaking to the National Assn. of Counties Leg. Council.

                      He just finished talking, and I gotta say, that was a good speech. He was forceful and coherent, and, but for a few mispronunciations, exactly what he needs to do for the next 9 months. He even made light of the Hur report, and did it deftly. That 15 seconds was more powerful than his speech four days ago and the answers he gave to the gaggle.

                      He still looks old walking and in the stiffness of his delivery.

                      Fingers crossed.

    • Mutaman111 says:

      Answer is simple: Garland wanted to avoid any criticism from the right wing and their toddies like the New York Times. Its the underlying criteria for every decision he makes.

  3. Robert of Had says:

    The Special Counsel couldn’t make this a criminal case, but committed a character assassination. He got the right wing talking points out on the first page of a 300 page document that litters the truth in the pages nobody’s reading while the media focuses on the front page gossip. The partisan hackery was on full display with “willful retention” on the first page, while “no criminal intent” and the “lack of evidence of a crime” is revealed by the sixth.

    • bmaz says:

      Baloney, of course he could have. A currently unchangeable one, but yes he could have done that. But he could have never met DOJ charging standards.

      • Robert of Had says:

        Instead, the intentional hatchet job of this report was Hur’s decision to make his personal opinion know before any of the facts. He tried to insinuate Biden would *look* incompetent in front of a jury, thus driving his conclusion that this wouldn’t warrant criminal charges. There was no crime, except to make Biden look guilty in the court of public and political opinion.

      • Peterr says:

        But he could have never met DOJ charging standards.

        So it sounds like you’re saying Hur couldn’t make this a criminal case.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Hur does list several reasons for why he couldn’t charge. For starters, the SOL had run. There wasn’t enough evidence. What there was wasn’t sufficiently persuasive. He decided he couldn’t prove all the elements of any crime beyond a reasonable doubt. And others. The OLC memos are relevant, and binding on him until revoked, but they come last.

          • Shadowalker says:

            He pulled a Durham, but instead of blaming the jury for not looking at the evidence through his own political lens, they would be blinded by sentimentality. I don’t know which accusation is worse.

  4. BoyCCCCC says:

    This! I understand the optics of impartiality but this seems like an incredible self own for Garland/Biden.

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. Please make a note of it as you have used 3 other usernames to date. /~Rayne]

  5. WilliamOckham says:

    Wow, a normal interpretation of that 66-word statement would be that the 40-page memo was “all the classified stuff”. At least, that’s what it would mean if I said it. Which would, under the circumstances, seem to be exculpating rather than inculpating.

    Maybe I’m being too charitable towards Joe Biden. There’s a first time for everything.

  6. Bruce Olsen says:

    Makes the blood boil, it does.
    Unfortunately, it’s too complex for the people who might be swayed if the obvious misconduct were explained, and like the Comey memo too easy to accrete onto the ball of conspiracy theories for the MAGA types.
    I would love to be part of a project to rewrite these episodes into something that ordinary folks could understand.

    • GSSH-FullyReduced says:

      ‘Comey Memo’ came a few days before the election to really mess with Hillary’s march to POTUS. It muddied just enough of the waters for Independents to go thumbs-down on her and (IMO) helped tip the election. This ‘Hur Screed’ coming unwashed now, more than 9mo before general election, seems to me as just one more flatulent release of RW gas (lighting) that red meat eaters will forget by the time Cannon settles her robes on the throne.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        But that’s not the way this works.
        MAGA types will permanently graft this as evidence of Biden’s unfitness for office onto their worldview. It also lets the GOPers both-sides documents issues. Most of them probably didn’t need the report to view Biden as evil incarnate anyway, it merely reinforces their view.

  7. Bay State Librul says:

    A wild goose chase — ending up in an Alice in Wonderland conclusion.
    Operation Research work done within the DOJ.
    No Monica Lewinsky dress found.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      It does, however, provide some context for his solid rationale that led to his removing the troops when he did.

      • John A Gurley says:

        Biden had been clearly opposed to the Afghan mission since the Obama years. Regardless, his hand was forced by Trump in 2021: Trump had withdrawn all but 3,500 US troops and had released 5,000 Taliban prisoners, while evacuating no civilians.

        The truce with the Taliban was to expire in April, just three months after Biden was inaugerated. Any attempt to cancel Trump’s truce would have immediately put the remaining US troops in a desperate situation, with 90,000 Taliban estimated to be in-country.

        The Afghan government’s faith in their US ally had been shattered by Trump’s exclusive negotiations with the Taliban at Doha in 2020, so their collapse was to be expected, contrary to US intelligence predictions. The Taliban kept their word not to attack US troops during the withdrawal, but there was no such truce with ISIS, who killed 13 US troops via IED.

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          Glad to see you got my drift despite my failure (as is sometimes my absent-minded wont) to attach a snark tag to my post.

          Your POV is certainly that of Biden’s, and the facts as you state them are accurate — except that I’d note that the second sentence in the second paragraph is speculation, framed in a FP straitjacket on the most powerful nation on earth. My snarky comment was meant to imply that the precipitous nature of that debacle was in no small measure a function of Biden’s intense desire to exit the Graveyard of Empires with as much ill-thought-out dispatch as possible, collateral catastrophes be damned.

          Here’s a Brookings piece that gives a perspective, that I share, that Biden and his advisors did have agency and options that your narrative denies:

          That piece also notes that Biden’s execution of the evacuation was only saved from further catastrophe and ignominy by private sector emergency volunteer interventions. Not only could he have ordered the US military to fill that obvious void, but the conditions that surrounded it on the ground could have also been ameliorated if Biden hadn’t been blinded by his “let’s bug the hell out of there asap” POV.

          Was Afghanistan always going to be a colossal US FP failure? Yes (unless Bush at the beginning had gone against his rabid neocon instincts and conducted an Al Qaida-targeted assault and extraction mission, which was ironically Biden’s eventual opinion — contradicted by his cowardly AUMF “yea” vote).

          Did the final chapter have to have be legitimately comparable to Nixon’s Saigon evacuation? No. He could have pulled out with more thought, preparation and restructuring based on publicly acknowledging the fact that Trump had fucked things up to a fare-thee-well to the point that withdrawl was untenable under those terms.

          • Rugger_9 says:

            As for the last paragraph, once Trump closed Bagram, the outcome was likely to happen. Kabul airport security was nowhere close to Bagram’s and Trump knew it. So, he set Biden up to be blamed for anything that went wrong.

              • Rugger_9 says:

                Nope, just my opinion as a front-line USN vet. However, once Trump set the shutdown in motion including making Bagram untenable, it is no longer Biden’s fault.

              • John A Gurley says:

                You quote an article about the same House Armed Forces hearing I do.

                And it comes to the same conclusion. But the headline to your article seems to have nothing to do with the conclusions made during the hearing. Why would that be?

                • BRUCE F COLE says:

                  Here’s the lede:
                  “The sprawling size of the U.S. airbase at Bagram and its isolation from Kabul meant that keeping it under American control was ‘untenable under the situation’ once President Joe Biden ordered all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, U.S. Central Command’s top officer told a House panel Wednesday.”

                  Biden sped up the withdrawal from mid Sept to mid August and Bagram was abandoned on July 1. This was all based on the brass’ assertion that to keep Bagram in play meant extending the occupation indefinitely. That marker was laid down in the Spring, and Biden didn’t bother to order them to find a way out that kept Bagram in play but didn’t include leaving a residual force ad infinitum. Instead, the rebuffed military “organized” an exit that was both chaotic and a humanitarian nightmare, with desperate US collaborators clinging to landing gear and falling to their deaths.

                  Biden wasn’t hogtied by the bogus Doha accord. He was hogtied by his own tunnel vision that bought into Centcom’s assessment that it was either extend the occupation (a non starter for Biden) or bug out like bats out of hell.
                  “The remnants of the U.S. military at Bagram left in the dead of night on July 1 handing off the base to Afghan commanders who complained they weren’t even notified of the departure.
                  ‘They just decided they lost the argument, and OK fine let’s get the heck out of dodge,’ said one former senior defense official.”
                  “The military brass had done a remarkable 180. For the first four months of 2021, as the White House reviewed the withdrawal timeline inherited from the Trump administration, Austin and Milley, as well as senior military commanders, urged Biden to leave a few thousand troops in Afghanistan indefinitely. Both were overruled. Once that happened, the Pentagon embraced as quick a withdrawal as possible, including from Bagram. And the Pentagon stuck to that approach through the beginning of July, regardless of the conditions on the ground.”

                  I’m saying it was a false binary choice because Biden didn’t press for a third option that involved Bagram for a more orderly exit (outside the confines of Kabul) with more desperate emigre’s being given a way out.

                  That would have meant more troops to facilitate it (which was anathema to Biden) but abandoning Bagram was his choice, based on the false premise that it could only be used if a residual force stayed behind, which again, Biden never bothered to push back against.

                  • Rayne says:

                    You do realize you do not have all the intelligence available, just as Politico’s Lara Seligman didn’t, yes?

                    We still don’t have all the intelligence available about the deaths of +20 U.S. troops on which bounties had been placed the previous two years, intelligence about which intel community confidence changed substantially inside 18 months. And yet huge intelligence failures dogged the pullout.


                    Haven’t forgotten, either, that DoS Pompeo played a role ahead of the Biden administration’s inauguration which has yet to be explained.

                    Pompeo refused to sign a US-Taliban peace deal in a sign of how shaky it is
                    Sep 4, 2019, 5:16 PM EDT

                    Taliban visits Moscow days after Trump says talks ‘dead’
                    Sep 13, 2019, 6:16 PM EST

                    How is it not possible for Russia to have ensured the pull-out from Afghanistan would be a shit show. That’s not even a question.

                    • BRUCE F COLE says:

                      All those factors are relevant, obviously, and the Pompeo signature issue was certainly the main reason the Doha deal was meaningless. But Biden still had agency: it wasn’t a rudderless ship he was sailing. Still and all, the points I’m making still stand.

                      From your second PBS link:

                      “The White House on Thursday publicly released a 12-page summary of the results of the so-called ‘hotwash’ of U.S. policies around the ending of the nation’s longest war, taking little responsibility for its own actions during some of the darkest moments of Biden’s presidency.”

                      i.e., denial of agency on which I call bullshit. And:

                      “The report…says Biden followed military commanders’ recommendations for the pacing of the drawdown of U.S. forces.”

                      All I’m saying is he could have pressed them for a better game plan, and that the “Trump made Bagram go away” excuse/trope (that is, after all, based on the understood value of that airbase for a safer evac) is utter bullshit.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Right, sure, sure. Agency based on the continuing problematic intelligence which is not unlike the continuing problematic law enforcement at DOJ.

          • John A Gurley says:

            Quite the anti-Biden perspective you’ve got there.

            I will reiterate: Trump left Biden no realistic option but to continue the Afghan withdrawal, since Trump had cut combat troops down to 2500 (3500 including non-combat arms), and closed one of the major airbases.

            And yes, it would have been a debacle for Biden to break Trump’s ceasefire with the Taliban, with so few military assets in country. Being the “most powerful nation on earth” doesn’t make our soldiers superhuman, and attempting to hold on to Afghanistan would have resulted in thousands of casualties, even if we succeeded. And if we did, we would be back to being stuck with the same forever war.

            Read this assessment delivered by General McKenzie of the Central Command to the House Armed Services Committee:

            • BRUCE F COLE says:

              See my comment just above.

              And there’s this contemporaneous report,
              that puts the lie to McKenzie’s claim in that hearing that:
              “I did not see any tactical utility” to holding Bagram, he said before the House Armed Services Committee.
              “*We did this in close coordination with our allies and partners. Every departure of every element was carefully synchronized across the coalition and with our Afghan partners. On no occasion were they caught unaware by our movements; every base was handed off to Afghan forces according to a mutually understood plan.*”

              That portion, between the asterisks, of his testimony is an outright lie if your read the link above it.

              The majority of the fault for the loss of Bagram does lie with the military, especially their blinkered presentation to Biden of how it couldn’t be utilized without leaving a residual, 2,000 armed personnel force (3,500 total) indefinitely. McKenzie lied in that hearing and he and the other brass petulantly distorted the range of options to Biden.

              Biden’s fault was that he didn’t make them come back with a plan that left Bagram in play such that the eventual horrific disaster in the confines of Kabul could have been avoided.

              He likely didn’t push back because of his unwillingness to do what he advised Obama not to do (which is how this conversation ties into the Hur report), even though it would have meant a circumscribed surge for one purpose only, to evacuate not just our personnel but all the Afghans who had aligned themselves with us, especially the vast numbers of women who are now subject to Taliban cruelty.

              I am not a Biden hater. I do, however, reserve my right to disagree with him, as I did when he scuttled Anita Hills corroborators which enabled Thomas’ ascent to the Court, and as I did when he voted for Bush’s AUMF which led to the disaster he oversaw that summer almost 3 years ago. Conversely, I applaud him for advising Obama not to send in more troops for what was an ultimately doomed venture in the first place.

              But that doesn’t excuse him for not sussing out a tactically more appropriate way to leave that doomed venture.

              [Moderator’s note: I am going to put you on permanent throttle if you do not learn how to write more concisely. You’re trashing this thread with your “I’m not a Biden hater BUT…” bullshit, each of which runs over 300 words long containing almost nothing new except concern trolling about Biden — especially since you’ve blown off my previous comment to tighten your prose. /~Rayne]

          • Kenneth Almquist says:

            Bruce, in the piece you link to, Madiha Afzal claims: “There were a few choices [the Biden Administration] should have considered seriously, other than the two it says it had: to leave on the Doha deal’s timeline or to stay on, risking American lives; it chose the former.” Of course the United States did not leave on the Doha deal’s timeline. Biden moved the withdrawal date from the end of April to the end of August, judging (correctly) that the Taliban wouldn’t tear up the deal over a four month delay. It’s hard to take Afzal’s criticism seriously when he misstates the approach he is trying to criticize.

            Afzal suggests that the United States might have ”focused on pushing harder for an intra-Afghan peace deal (between the Afghan government and the Taliban)“ but doesn’t give us reason to believe that would have made any difference. As long as the goal of the Taliban is to regain control of Afghanistan and the goal of the Afghan government is to continue to exist, no peace deal is possible.

            He also suggests conditioning a withdrawal on achieving such a peace deal. In the absence of a peace deal, that means either staying in Afghanistan forever, or withdrawing anyway. The latter undermines U.S. credibility for no good reason.

            His final option is to have “formally attempted a renegotiation of the Doha deal.” That means sending troops back into Afghanistan and attempting to negotiate with the Taliban after telling them that our word is no good.

            • BRUCE F COLE says:

              As I said, I agree with Afzal’s perspective, that Biden was not without agency or other options. As to the details of those possible options as I see them, I’ve posted them above.

              It was obviously a stacked deck he was dealt, no question (as it was from the beginning of that doomed FP venture), but my point is that some of the blame that Centcom shifted to Trump obscured what further options he might have had with respect to Bagram, and that Biden could have pressed for another rethink that could have produced a better, more humane exit.

  8. BRUCE F COLE says:

    Thank you Ms Wheeler.

    What a chore, apparently done as an overnighter last night, only made necessary by yet another dishonest GOP hack intent on assuaging the fee fees of the rampant criminal that controls his party.

    • Peterr says:

      Only an overnighter here in the US. In Ireland, this story broke shortly before she was likely getting up in the morning. I can envision her booting up her computer first thing in the morning and asking “So, what fresh hell awaits us today . . . Oh, my.”

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        Hmmm. The earliest news item I could find of the report’s release was 23 hours ago, which would have been 6pm Limerick time, and that was 2 hours or so before she posted yesterday’s open thread about it.

        Whatever the case, her ability to assimilate and analyze huge chunks of convoluted data, and then immediately produce detailed, trenchant copy is beyond phenomenal, no matter what time of day she does it.

      • emptywheel says:

        Oh no. It was an all-nighter. Or a fitful nighter.

        It broke when I came back from an event and worked on it for 5 hours then woke up a few times to work on it.

        What fucking tedium. Those declinations go on and on and on.

        • dopefish says:

          It feels like there has always been right-wing ratfucking, and there will always be right-wing ratfucking. But its still pretty frustrating to see it happen, over and over and over.

          Thank you for spending so much time picking through this crap and pulling apart their false narratives, and shining some truth on them.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            It’s just worse when our side aids and abets them.

            I’ve been defending Garland for three years. That’s getting harder now, not so much for the finished product Hur put out but for the decisions that led up to it. Yes, Garland’s robes will remain pristinely clean, his conscience untouched by inner qualms about his own biases…

            I hope he gets to enjoy that feeling as AG beyond 1/20/25.

            • RitaRita says:

              AG Garland could have pulled a modified Bill Barr: comment on the Report before it was released in order to frame the narrative. The modification is that Garland could have been faithful to the gravamen of the Report and still frame the narrative to counter the awful, unnecessary language.

              • Rugger_9 says:

                AG Garland could have edited out the inflammatory stuff and the opinions not supported by facts and shortening the read to merely 20 pages or so (Reader’s Digest condensed books, eat your heart out) but I’m also pretty sure that the unredacted version is already leaked somewhere by Hur’s office as a way to protect his opinions.

                What the unedited report clearly does is expose Hur as an unreconstructed partisan hack and I look forward to the hearings to come in the Senate (at least, though I expect the Comer Clown Committee to ask Hur in because Jim and Jim are running out of ideas) wherein Hur has to explain himself. Hopefully they’ll be public.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What the world needs now is not the NYT’s Peter Baker telling us what the Hur report means. MSNBC is as pathetic as CNN.

    Contrary to reporters’ attempts to minimize its import, it is not hard and takes no nuance to find much to disagree with about it. Its damning character is not “just a few words.” It’s the entire report, its framing, its editorializing, its unsupported assumptions and characterizations, its sheer mass. Few will read it, but will take it as gospel, because it’s an official DoJ report. Buried somewhere in it are Hur’s declination decisions – its only legitimate topic – but one might need a divining rod to find them.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      You do not even have to read the many articles on the subject to get the Times’s drift, earl. No place on earth is shoving Biden off stage with more force, very likely out of the hope that a President Trump will once more increase their subscriber base–and that in the meantime, that prospect will goose said base even more.

      The Times is worse than the GOP, which at least doesn’t pretend to be objective.

      • bgThenNow says:

        Thank you. I am just getting through comments now, and am way behind. But it does seem that there has by now begun to be some critical pushback on the document (I don’t see the NYT, just FYI). I have not been online a lot the last few days, and the situation in Gaza is really having an impact it seems to me.

        This move is probably going to be the biggest lift of the election season. Biden has a long history of international knowledge, it seems. And yet, there have been missteps, at minimum. The tide is turning, and we are seeing the change.

        He has to do what is right. Perhaps we will trade Palestine for Ukraine. I would put my bet on the opposite.

        Who would we ideally want to call those shots? It can’t be both Ukraine and Israel. It seems. It is harder not to see Biden as a warmonger. Given the current choices, I have not yet fallen to despair. I have to remain hopeful. But the Genocide must end. It absolutely must.

        • dopefish says:

          Why can’t it be both Ukraine and Israel? The U.S. can easily afford to help both. It just needs to explain to its people that the long-term consequences of NOT helping them will be much worse.

          United Statesians currently enjoy, and have for decades, tremendous economic benefits from being the world’s last great power. But that depends on upholding the rules-based international order and the cheap, safe international trade that it enables. It depends on the soft power U.S. wields around the world that encourages allies and keeps foes at bay.

          In 20 years when everything is more expensive in the U.S. you can thank the Republicans that told their base it was okay not to fully fund Ukraine until Russia went home in defeat. Appeasement doesn’t fucking work.

      • Sue 'em Queequeg says:

        Just cancelled my NYT subscription. They’ve given “fake news” a whole new meaning. And it seems clear they have no intention of changing.

  10. Mister_Sterling says:

    Fantastic analysis, as always, MW.

    I fear that this report does what Trump wanted to do to Biden in 2019, which is ruin Biden in an official document. In 2019, it would have been an announcement by Ukraine that the Bidens were under investigation in exchange for a Zelenskyy Oval Office appearance. Yesterday it was a Special Counsel report with inappropriate content for the media and GOP to hold onto. This cannot be undone. Most of us here are logical lawyers. We don’t say dramatic shit. But I do think this officially ruins Biden. In a noble attempt to be decent and transparent, Biden opened himself to yet another serious wound heading into his last election.

    His approval rating went underwater in the fall of 2021. The news media never stopped slamming him in a silly attempt to appear objective. The GOP impeachment and attacks on Hunter have gone nowhere. But now this report has delivered the worst day of his presidency. There’s no coming back from this. If Biden hangs on to win in November, he does so as a ruined politician.

    One more thing. Yesterday Biden uttered the words, “my memory is fine.” Obviously not the thing to say if you are trying to fight a report that your memory is poor. But it reminded me of one Christine O’Donnell. Anyone remember her? She ran for the Senate seat that Biden left to become Vice President. What words sank her 2010 campaign? “I’m not a witch.”

    “My memory is fine.”

    • Grain of Sand says:

      Yes, I was thinking of O’Donnell just yesterday, but in the context of the group of House wingnuts (Mace, MadMarge, Gaetz, etc) proclaiming that they are not insurrectionists. Ginni Thomas should get a t-shirt.

      But re BIden, I think “my memory is fine,” is fine.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the SAME username AND EMAIL ADDRESS each time you comment so that community members get to know you. We don’t even require a working/valid email address, only that you use the same one. You may wish to clear your autofill/browser’s cache because you used an institutional email address rather than an email service account as you have been for the past 57 comments. /~Rayne]

      • BriceFNC says:

        MT Green is 49 years old, (although you can argue they have been hard years) and when testifying under oath in a hearing about whether she could remain on the ballot in Georgia she used terminology like, “I don’t recall,” and “I have no recollection of that.” over fifty times!

        Mueller testified before Congress that Trump’s written responses included over thirty usages of terminology such as “I do not recall.” “I have no recollection” or “I have no independent recollection of that.” Trump was age 71 at that time! He has gone down hill significantly since then!

    • Error Prone says:

      Biden said more than “My memory is fine” per AP reporting carried by Seattle Times:

      And in response to Hur’s portrayal of him, Biden insisted to reporters that “My memory is fine,” and said he believes he remains the most qualified person to serve as president.

      “How in the hell dare he raise that?” Biden asked, about Hur’s comments regarding his son’s death, saying he didn’t believe it was any of Hur’s business.

      When asked about the report earlier Thursday in a private moment with a handful of House Democrats ahead of his speech at their suburban Virginia retreat, Biden responded angrily, according to two people familiar with his comments, saying, “You think I would f—— forget the day my son died?” The people did not want to address the matter publicly and spoke of condition of anonymity.
      Hur seems to have taken himself off the listings for possible appointments in the next Biden administration. Biden’s memory seems fine enough to infer that.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Bob Hur was never likely on it. Neither were Comey, Durham, and others.

        If those three paragraphs are a quote from the Seattle Times, that’s not the way to indicate it. Please use quotation marks or indent the whole quote. Rayne has given instructions and provided a picture for how to do that several times.

        • Error Prone says:

          I am aware that quotations from Marcy and others are formatted in a way which I do not know of. I either could not share the quote at all, or had to do my best. If Rayne has posted, either your or he might reply to this via a courtesy link. What he may have posted was before my time posting here. Sorry about that.

          Minnesota has two statewide dailies, Pioneer Press and Star Tribune. The first has not written, and the second is paywalled. I can give the link:

          If anybody replies caring to know how Minnesota politicians reacted, Dean Phillips included, as reported, once I learn posting norms for quotes I can post a brief excerpt. Thanks for mentioning the formatting. I was aware of it, but not how to handle it in the commentary box in which I write this.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            She posted it a week or two ago, with a graphic. I’m sure you can find it. “This is how to use quotation marks in the middle of a paragraph.” [The key is in the middle row, upper case, to the left of the “Enter” button.]

            “When quoting one paragraph, it starts and ends with quotation marks.”

            “When quoting two or more paragraphs, each paragraph starts with quotation marks.

            “Only the final paragraph ends with them.”

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            This url leads to a site that gives instructions for how to indent a quote, and for how to use italics and bold face. Per Rayne, those are the only three commands this site allows.


            The indent commands are set off from the text you’re indenting/quoting by carrots (). Neither the carrots nor what’s inside them will appear in the final text.

            Start and end the full quote with them. The end indent command differs from the start indent command by adding a slash (“/”).

            Use no spaces inside the carrots or between the commands and the indented text. I’ve added them for illustration and to disable them.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      It’s early February. A lot more can happen between now and early November. And while I agree that this was an obvious hatchet job, the best way for us normal (?) people who understand it as such to respond is to work extra hard to make sure we have a positive electoral outcome in November.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A lot can happen between now and November. Another good reason for Nikki Haley to stay in the race while she can. Trump’s physical and legal frailties are legion.

        • bgThenNow says:

          I honestly think she may be a very dark horse, and that is why she is staying in. The bricks are falling on Fatso. The damage is going to be a lot bigger than 8 words padded thick with partisan politics. Biden has to decide what the limit to genocide will be. I hope he can do the right thing. Further, the Democrats need to stand hard for a few principles. We have to stand up. The Rs have nothing, no principles but domination. And they will do Anything. The Democrats HAVE to STAND together. We have to show the power of the people. It is the last stand, I think.

            • bgThenNow says:

              Oh I am so sorry. I had a cat called Fatso in the 90s. I have an enormous cat graveyard in my gardens. Fatso is under a couple of bricks. The tulips are coming up. We had snow today. I need to get back to work. Nice to see your fonts.

      • LadyHawke says:

        Hur’s report is a transparent BS hit job. But, The Sky Is Falling! We’re Totally Doomed! – Ahhhhhhh!!! Wait, No?

        Absolutely, it is a long time until November. President Biden will keep working every day, accomplishing good and important things. Why are people so ready to discount the many unmatched tools the presidency gives him – not the least his upcoming State of the Union speech?

        Baby-man Trump will never debate him – unless his ego and all this hoopla suckers him into thinking that he can Gish Gallop President Biden. The fox may sometimes lose control of his stutter, but don’t forget, he’s a wily fox, all the same.

    • says:

      Daily Beast opinion columnist Shan Wu, cites specific examples different from Marcy’s above (from a former-prosecutor perspective), in his Op-ed distinguishing this from typical declinations that “should be written in a very factual, non-pejorative way.” For example, up front “Hur should have simply said that the evidence found in the investigation did not support a recommendation of criminal prosecution, and then gone on to explain what evidence had been evaluated.”

      Hur opens his report in a way that invites misinterpretation, by stating he “uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials.” But Hur waits until the next paragraph to state that the evidence does not establish Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


      The verb “uncovered” suggests evidence was hidden and only Hur’s skillful investigation discovered it. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the rest of the report demonstrates that President Biden hid nothing from the investigation and was entirely forthcoming. Hur’s wording also makes it sound like he believes Biden committed a crime, but he just can’t prove it when his report actually concludes there is a lack of evidence of Biden possessing criminal intent to commit a crime.

      Wu, charitably, offers that Hur might be a poor writer or editor, but demonstrates Hur’s reasoning also appears influenced by a partisan lens. Quoting from the Department of Justice’s “Principles of Federal Prosecution,” which Hur used to justify his Biden-mental-acuity assessment, Wu argues that “the DOJ regulations cited by Hur actually cut against” its propriety.

      Those regulations do not support Hur giving his “I’m not a doctor but play one on TV” opinion about Biden’s mental acuity. Hur is suggesting that the “sympathetic” nature of Biden’s supposed age-related infirmities will make jurors unlikely to convict him.

      “Where the law and the facts create a sound, prosecutable case, the likelihood of an acquittal due to unpopularity of some aspect of the prosecution or because of the overwhelming popularity of the defendant or his/her cause is not a factor prohibiting prosecution. . . [T]he prosecutor might reasonably doubt. . .that the jury would convict. . . based on factors extraneous to an objective view of the law and the facts[], [yet] the prosecutor may properly conclude that it is necessary and appropriate to . . . recommend prosecution.

      In other words, a prosecutor should not decline to prosecute just because …a sympathetic defendant may make a case hard to win.

      Wu also faults Hur for raising the issue of Biden’s age on page 249 at some hypothetical future prosecution where Hur asserts this is an ” ‘age when relatively few people are prosecuted’ ” without backing up the assertion with facts or statistics, from DOJ Regs or personal research, which would be the ordinary course of a typical declination, Wu says.

      Wu finds Hur’s Trump-case comparison excessive and, perhaps — “nefarious” — providing the sufficiency of stating something as succinct as “the weight of historical precedent cuts against Biden in the absence of aggravating factors like being given multiple chances to return documents and obstructing justice.”

      In his effort to appear balanced in his judgement, “by specifically invoking the Trump case,” Wu believes Hur’s contrast simply “invites comparison” and provides “a roadmap for Trump to argue why Hur’s comparison is wrong.”

      • says:

        thx, bc.

        Gosh, I hope I am wrong, but my instinct agrees with Mister_Sterling that this cannot be undone. Hur, a reasoned, thoughtful lawyer (the right will now believe and embrace), unequivocally stated that in his professional judgment, the sitting President is too infirm to recall facts about Afganistan and the date of his eldest son’s death. How can there be any recovery from this?

        It boggles the mind that overseers of this report failed to fully grasp that there is no “correct” way to influence a report or push back on partisan findings not typical in declination decisions, without Fox News and GOPers being dissatisfied and employing DARVO, psychological projection, what-about-ism, false-equivalence, and ad hominum attack, to justify their Biden-can-do-nothing-correct attitude. For God sakes, they’ve abandoned years-held, principled beliefs — like supporting fights for Democracy abroad — for the mere reason that Biden supports them.

        There is no “right answer” on how to deal with this report, in the haters’ minds. Any path taken to “spin” or get Hurr to retract non-declination-relevant text would be viewed as corrupt, just because of the (D) by the President’s name and it being a “D’s” DOJ/attorney general. That “D” automatically means that any ‘handling’ of the report at all surely would have been seen as inappropriate and impeachable.

        Because of Biden’s failure to fully grasp the pervasive dishonesty, malevolence, and unceasing message-machine of the opposition, Biden’s team mistakenly believed allegations of senility were better to have on record, and more refutable than, absolute-guarenteed-accusations of tampering with a DOJ-sanctioned report. Do they know nothing about PRIMING and REPETITION?

        Every American who chooses to engage has easy access for the next 10 months to a 300+ page report which will circulate widely, that is organized neatly into chapters, whose salacious-senility details covered for weeks and months will profoundly overshadow any declaration of Biden’s factual innocence.

        And, worse, this in-print, cohesive documentation and unceasing attention will avalanche any future, piecemeal revelation of Trump’s alleged factual guilt, asserted at some later point in time — assertions made off camera, off mic, during testimony at trial that will be spun mightily on camera, daily, a few hours later. It means nothing that the latter will be sworn evidence supporting Trump’s knowing, willful, obstructive, and — FACTUAL — Guilt.

        Without some save-the-cat movie-script-like altered ending, where America grows incensed at the beating up of an elderly, feeble man, I fear we will be witnesses to THE END OF A PRESIDENCY, if not just a presidential campaign, of a factually-innocent, morally-sound, psychologically well-balanced, and leadership-intuitive elderly man…. crushed under the heel of the ardent supporters of a factually-guilty, morally-corrupt, leadership-bereft, and nefarious-psychopath-elderly-man, both of who demonstrate evidence of some degree of mental decline or quickness on their feet.

        The irony is astounding.

        • Rayne says:

          Concision. Please. I’m begging you. You just spent 461 words worth of space to say “I agree with that guy, this is problematic.”

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          I write this respectfully,, because I value your commentary. But this instance seems like an example of Hur provoking you to essentially mirror his own errancy by engaging in loosely predicated hypotheticals about a future neither of you (nor I) can predict.

          I share your sense of grievance about Hur’s execrable and unprofessional report. But let’s all stay on our skis here. We have better things to do than concede the field to hacks like Hur.

    • Grung_e_Gene says:

      Do you happen to recall when Christine O’Donnell and her young niece tried to smear Biden in 2020? Republican liar Christine O’Donnell, her little lying niece Eva Murry and the dirtbag left tried to claim Joe Biden oogled Murry’s boobs at a function in 2008. but it turned out Biden wasn’t at the function in 2008 so O’Donnell said well it happened in 2009 then, except Biden wasn’t at the function in 2009 either.

      Republican liars and their Corporate Media allies have there there now and will use this for the next 9 months. Will it work? Not if Biden’s opponent is Trump but, if the Media gets their dream scenario and Trump is removed by convictions and Nikki Haley swoops in to save the day, the Corporate Media will do everything they can to get her over the finish line and elected.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        I welcome her nomination.
        She would be called out, in every ad, for having promised to pardon Trump and for supporting a national abortion ban. That covers a lot of voters.
        She’s also highly vulnerable on Social Security and Medicare, which enormous majorities of both parties want to see unchanged. Social Security was one of the major factors that caused support for Bush to collapse.
        And as a non-candidate. Trump would take every opportunity to torpedo her candidacy. He’s pro-Trump, not pro-GOP.

    • Clare Kelly says:

      Mister_Sterling wrote:

      “This cannot be undone. Most of us here are logical lawyers. We don’t say dramatic shit. But I do think this officially ruins Biden.”

      And yet, “We” ventured thespian.

      I continue to petition my government regarding its participation in this extremist Israeli government’s egregious violations of IHL, IML, the Leahy Acts, and 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act.

      (As to the latter, only eleven Senators voted to even begin the process of accountability and only one of my Senators was among them.)

      However, given the stakes regarding civil liberties should Citizen Trump get another crack at established power, I will also do everything within my power to ensure that does not happen…including responding to defeatist assertions eleven months prior to an election.

      I respectfully refer you to Marcy’s timely and cogent piece from February 5, 2024:

      February 5, 2024/82 Comments/in 2020 Presidential Election, 2024 Presidential Election, January 6 Insurrection /by emptywheel

      And to Jay Rosen:
      “Not the odds, but the stakes”

      Also see: Jackie Calmes piece in the LATimes today.

      I come here for facts and superlative analysis, for which I remain grateful.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      Add “I am not a crook” to that list of ineffective denials.

      Is Biden like Nixon? Hell no, not even close, but the way he differs from Richard Nixon — at the point when the latter was just a crook getting ready to shuffle off — is conversely the reason Hur had any ammo at all for his rococo hit piece:

      Nixon was sharp as a stiletto, especially when he was breaking laws and giving Roger Stone ratfucking lessons…but even when the Watergate ax was coming down (despite his maudlin demeanor at that point).

      Biden, otoh, has dull edges: while he might not mince the language up as deftly and as often as Trump does, he still has numerous, ongoing recorded flubs that go immediately to YouTube, and his delivery and “stage presence” projects “old guy gettin’ on in years.” To deny that is to do like that most famous Emperor’s subjects did.

      Here’s an example of that delivery problem that just came up in the wake of Hur’s report, as Jon Harwood posted his recent ProPublica interview with Biden as a “You call this guy mentally challenged??” retort to Hur’s “old guy in confusion land” mantra:
      And while Biden was indeed cognitively sharp in that interview — he answered everything with crisp coherent thoughts and explanations — I was nonetheless grateful for the closed-captioning because, though I could hear him just fine, his speech is poorly enunciated (especially for a top-tier pol & the leader of the free world for crissake) and most of his sentences seem to just fizzle out. That isn’t a feature of his delivery, as if “not exactly mumbling” could be a feature; its a very large bug. It contributes to the perception that he’s losing a step, and it furthers the negative narrative against him, especially when he’s conflating heads of state with corpses, and getting them in the wrong country to boot, even in recent instances.

      Short version: you don’t have to be ageist to spot when someone’s losing some steam. This isn’t like skin color or gender: everybody dies and most of us slow down significantly in the runup to it. Noticing that change as its happening is important when taking care of aging parents, j ustas it is for aging pols. Failure to take notice (by the pol, his aides and allies, and a portion of the public) is what gives us Feinstein in her last 4 or 5 years in office.

      That’s not to say Hur’s report wasn’t a hit piece as Marcy so deftly points out above, and it obviously was a political hit piece –but the basis for it was undeniable probable political cause.

      It’s also not necessarily to say that he’s not up to the job in some sense for some time going forward, as that Harwood interview showed; it’s just that he’s not up to maybe the most important part of it right now: effective (and in the historically critical current circumstances), *powerful communication*. I believe it’s the reason he’s eclipsed Trump in the metric for Presidents Who’ve Held Fewest Press Conferences…though, again, for different reasons than Trump is in that league.

      The chances, however, that he will be running against Trump are astronomically high, so I’ll be working my ass off (an have already donated a lot of money) to get him and Dem Congressional majorities elected.

      • Rayne says:

        Tighten up the prose, Bruce. 564 words is nearly 2X as you needed to say Biden’s still sharp though his speech impediment is becoming more obvious and may affect the public’s perception especially with news media’s sloppy coverage.

        It may not be age causing Biden’s speech to be less clear — fatigue and stress can do that, too. Gods know I’ve had that same problem and I’m nearly twenty years younger without a speech impediment.

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          I’ll work on the word counts. Sorry.

          And there well might be other reasons than age for his un-mediagenic speech and stage presence. Whatever the case, it’s a large liability in this quintessentially historical moment.

          Today is his second skipped Super Bowl interview, on top of the record low press conferences. These are symptoms of political malaise, first and foremost, just when we don’t need it.

          • Rayne says:

            That’s a fucked up assessment. He’s up to his ears with that asshole Netanyahu right now but sure, let’s do the goddamned Super Bowl.

            Since when the fuck is the Super Bowl, a sporting event conducted by private corporations, a presidential obligation? Did we not learn from Pence’s appearance during the kneeling-as-protest era that attendance is unnecessary political agitprop?

    • CovariantTensor says:

      ‘She ran for the Senate seat that Biden left to become Vice President. What words sank her 2010 campaign? “I’m not a witch.” ‘

      Did she turn out to weigh the same as a duck?

  11. wetzel-rhymes-with says:

    Those look like different boxes to me. In one the ‘D’ appears to be 1/2 inch from the edge, but in the other the ‘D’ appears to be at least 1 ¼ inch from the edge. That is what I see, a human being with two eyes. Democrats have been behind the GOP OODA loop so long (Observe Orient Decide Act), I think there is a kind of learned helplessness. The party needs to imagine a world where their operation included rat-f#cking genius like Roger Stone who set this all up ahead of time. Maybe follow the Republican playbook from the Killian documents scandal from 2004. There Dan Rather presented what ultimately turned out to be bogus documents regarding George W. Bush’ National Guard service from 1970. Those boxes are not the same, just like there wasn’t some proportional font in 1970. The ethics of a prosecutor must be at least as strong towards evidentiary claims as journalistic ethics.

    Out of respect for truth and history Democrats will wait for some Big Daddy to give them absolutely 100% ironclad assurances those are different boxes, I guess, though. I have three children. Those are different boxes. Maybe Hur pays a price, and the “Boxes” becomes a talisman just like the Killian Papers Democrats can hold up to dismiss the propaganda that Biden committed any crime here.

    “But, but . . . what about Hunter Biden’s Laptop?”

    • Sue 'em Queequeg says:

      Wetzel, you’re absolutely correct about the boxes. The two top boxes (shown side-by-side) are the same box. Although the light in those photos is from different angles, they bear identical tape-removal marks on the side facing the camera.

      However, it is physically impossible that the “D” partially visible on the top of the right-hand box is the same as that on the top of the box in the third photo, for the spacing reasons you cite. Also, the two Ds are not drawn the same way; in the lower photo, the ends of the curved part of the D extend past the vertical line of the D, but not in the upper right photo.

      Hard to tell what’s happening in the upper left photo. It’s not clear the top of the box is visible at all; it appears to be covered by white paper. There’s something that looks maybe like a D but not drawn at all similarly and far too close to both the left edge and the near edge to be a match.

      • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

        Former President Donald Trump on Saturday said he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member country that doesn’t meet spending guidelines on defense. Imagine that. Yet this is not the biggest news in 10 years. If these evidence photos are not the story in 48 hours, maybe there really is no responsive messaging capability for the Democrats.

        Christ. Maybe the party will bring out the jalopy. They could set up Clinton’s War Room! The blogs are gone. Well, there’s still Twitter. We have somehow lost our organization in the functional sense. The messagers make $350,000 silo’d in some cause, environmental, choice, DEI, and their job is exactly the same yesterday as tomorrow. Not their problem. No organization, just a flow of money, diffusion of responsibility, social loafing.

        They stand by when first Hillary and now Biden become surrogate victim or effigy. The GOP has built itself into a conical organization. They benefit in OODA from vertical transmission of influence, authority and conformity, so I think the Democrats aren’t ready for what’s coming in this election at all, must less than 2016. This isn’t concern trolling. I hope that dozens of people will read this.

  12. 3balls2strikes says:

    You seem to have discovered some pretty significant (purposeful?) errors in less than 24 hours since the release of the report. It seems like Garland/the Justice Dept might have been capable of a similarly careful reading in the time they had.

  13. Katherine Williams says:

    Its a determined effort to give a “Get out of jail free” card to Trump. And interfere in the 2024 election.

  14. John Paul Jones says:

    I want to register a tiny dissent.

    Just because photos show Biden in a Cabinet meeting, writing in a notebook/diary, it does not follow that the notebook is therefore a Presidential records, at least, it doesn’t follow automatically.

    Many times in meetings I use my personal notebook to (1) sorta keep track of a discussion which I find unproductive and beside the point but also (2) to work on material that is purely personal. In other words, there may be other explanations for the presence of a personal diary/notebook at an official meeting. The photo only attests to presence, not status.

    • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

      I might not be understanding your point correctly, but there does definitely appear to be classified information in some of Biden’s notebooks, personal or not, which he had no right to possess, and which he returned promptly upon discovery.

      However, Hur is all about presenting evidence and alleging Biden had willful knowledge of the material while simultaneously claiming not to have evidence good enough for a jury. I think it is wildly inappropriate for a prosecutorial declension to cause reputational harm like this, but we saw this before with Comey. The evidence Hur does have consists of an out of context quote and the association of the notebooks with the Virginia residence through the false evidence of the Boxes. Hur’s Sad Boxes. You can never tell the crooks from the dopes in this saga.

      “What is in the other box?” There are so many takeaways. That’s one question to ask Hur just for the hell of it. Also, it should be gratifying to the Democratic Propaganda Machine to know, apparently, Biden had no documents marked classified. A few notes in a notebook about Afghanistan taken down a long time ago in a meeting, this picture versus the debauched orgy of Top Secret, Super Top Secret, and Cosmic Top Secret documents found at Mar a Lago. Hur’s Sad Boxes versus that famous photo.

      Biden had no documents with classified markings. I think that is a great relief. Do you think there is a Democratic media strategist who could figure out how to get a bigger mansion in Alexandria or a boat out of this? Then we will be saved. Make hay while the sun shines!

      • Just Some Guy says:

        Let’s not forget that there are classified documents in Trump’s possession that have yet to be located, at least publicly acknowledged, as far as I understand it. That’s damning as well.

  15. OldTulsaDude says:

    The demoralizing actions have come from the access-first-stenographic-memorializing-megaphones previously named networks that keep quoting the report verbatim.

    • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

      Trying to understand how something like the Hur Declension is playing out in the media, I think Democrats may not efficacy with journalists, because, while being ideologically conspiratorially minded about journalistic corporations, they are not being cynical enough about individual journalists with regard to their laziness. They think it is an uphill battle when it is a downhill battle.

      Journalists don’t want to do hard work. Some days it seems like Marcy is pulling the wagon for the whole profession. Republicans understand that journalists hate work. Very few themselves would be intrinsically motivated about journalism, but they know no story sells like the scandal, and they understand money.

      I believe the GOP is organized to be sophisticated about how to help journalists in production. I think it is justified to have a parallax view of Koch’s, Thiel’s, and Musk’s political operations. If someone important in the GOP is about to have a scandal, they are modeling a counter-scandal, which is a kind of social production, so when Access Hollywood breaks, WikiLeaks releases the Clinton Campaign hacks; after Russia-Gate, that story somehow became the Durham prosecutions, and now there is Hur’s Declension Report which looks to all the world like a failed propaganda attempt to produce a counter-scandal to mitigate Trump’s Mar a Lago indictments. Hur doesn’t have to have been in the huddle to understand what his role was.

      Maybe everyone is happier Democrats suck and propaganda. They act like they are looking for time off in Purgatory, but it’s frustrating.

  16. Mart7890 says:

    Biden was right about one thing. The day after he evacuated troops from Afghanistan, following the negotiated Trump/Pompeo surrender to the Taliban, it was the same as the day before we got there.

  17. Jim Luther says:

    At one point government officials simply need to do the right thing and not overly concern themselves about how the RWNJ’s will react. Right wing media is simply detached from objective reality and it is impossible to comprehend their behavior using rational thought.

    Right wing media created a frenzy among cult members about the events occurring in the basement of a pizza shop with no basement, about the color of the suit Obama wore, about long dead dictators interfering with voting machines, … A report of this quality was inevitable and Garland had nothing but bad choices. Likewise, he currently has the choice of accepting that a member of his department produced absolute garbage without repercussion – or take some action in an attempt to improve the report or the author, but that would simply just trigger the next outburst from the outrage machine.

    IMHO, he should simply release a statement to the effect of “the report does not meet DOJ standards, but any action to correct the analysis or require the author to meet DOJ standards would probably be not worth the effort.”

  18. WilliamOckham says:

    Even though it’s not always possible to distinguish between the various forms of, uh… I believe the technical term to use on this site is “fuckery”, I find it helpful to analyze the following levels:

    1. Generalized federal prosecutorial fuckery
    2. Specialized Special Counsel fuckery
    3. Pissy partisan fuckery
    4. Whatever the hell you want to call what Durham did.

    Based on Dr. Wheeler’s summary, I think it is a serious mistake to lump all the failings of this report into category 3 when plenty of them are appropriately categorized into 1 and 2. I am not saying there’s no pissy partisan fuckery here. The cheap shots against Biden’s memory certainly are that. In fact, I’d guess that Hur sees this report as payback for Lawrence Walsh’s after-the-fact implication that Reagan’s testimony in the Iran-Contra investigation was affected by the onset of dementia. Which, by the way, was almost certainly true.

    • emptywheel says:

      My take is that, on top of that hit job, he felt obliged to keep referencing Trump. It was also in appropriate to talk about why Trump was worse, but he cited to Trump’s indictment twice for principles that didn’t make sense.

      The problem, really, was he had no evidence and he had to try hard to squeeze something out of it. I think he even tried a perjury trap on written questions for Biden.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Trying hard to squeeze something out of nothing is what I mean by specialized special counsel fuckery. The whole “you gotta write a report”, however well-intentioned, has turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea. Given the inherently political nature of a special counsel investigation, every time “there is no there, there”, we get a steaming pile of vague innuendos or worse.

        • Shadowalker says:

          Wait till Hur testifies before the rabid House republicans. Which I think is the primary reason they let this be released as is, can you imagine what Comer, Jordan and Greene would make of it if there was a push to whitewash the report like Barr did? There is no reason to gift them Articles of Impeachment.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Ironic comparison with Walsh, given the legendary obstruction of it by Bill Barr. Reagan’s memory might then have been impaired; it apparently wasn’t when he ok’d the events that led to that investigation. On the other hand, GHW Bush’s memory then was A-ok.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Sure, Barr’s obstruction seemed legendary at the time. Now we know that younger Bill Barr was an obstruction piker compared to older Bill Barr. Of course, it’s easy to be an obstructionist when you know there will be corrupt presidential pardons to back you up.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          That’s the thing about obstruction – and secrecy. When it works, you don’t know how many crimes the obstruction kept hidden, or unprosecutable.

  19. Savage Librarian says:

    Hur Piece

    That Hur piece suckers STD’s,
    It’s just a frieze on its own disease,
    A press release with biased sleaze,
    Legalese down on its knees.

    Caressing a joint with elbow grease,
    Take your selfie and say cheese,
    Then pack it up in your foul valise,
    where it belongs with all its fleas.

  20. Peterr says:

    To all of Marcy’s wonderful parsing of Hur’s report, showing how he tells on himself, let me add one more. From the next-to-the-last blockquote above:

    Subsection (d) also does not apply, because it requires a failure to deliver materials on demand, and when asked to return any classified materials from his vice presidency, Mr. Biden consented to searches and returned all potentially classified materials that were discovered.

    Hur fails to mention that the first time that classified materials were discovered (note the passive voice!), it was Biden who discovered them. After that, it was Biden who brought them to the attention of the relevant government people, and Biden who did so precisely in order to return them to where ever the right place was (NARA, a govt agency, etc.).

    But nice use of the passive voice to distract from the agency of Joe Biden to get this whole process started in the first place.

    • drhester says:

      Nice pick up. Totally agree about passive voice and agency. Here it was used to make sure Biden didn’t get credit. Usually used to deflect blame or citicism from onself.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      It’s really hard to imagine trump telling anyone that he goofed up. If he started telling on himself he’d have no time to screw everyone else.

  21. Michael Collins says:

    “Hur’s mandate ‘was to judge whether a crime was committed… not speculate on what the jury would do, not to speculate on how full or sharp Joe Biden’s mind is,’ Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) similarly said.

    Garland’s special counsel Hurl damned Pres Biden with a feint and insincere praise. He didn’t charge Biden who he called a really nice man with serious memory problems; a man so nice rhe special counsel didn’t think he could get a jury to convict. Hur thinks we’re morons. The clear message is that Biden is too out of it the country and doesn’t deserve a second term.

    Maybe Garland and the rest of the geniuses who made the appointment missed these obvious clues that Hur was a ringer:

    Hur was a legal clerk for the ethically challenged former SCOTUS Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, a supporter of the “separate but equal” doctrine that justified school segregation.

    Hur wasn’t required to clerk for Rehnquist, he chose to.

    Hur was a legal clerk for disgraced Judge Alex Kozinski. The judge fled to retirement after multiple harassment and porn-related charges.

    Hur wasn’t required to clerk for Kozinski, he chose to.

    Hur was a senior advisor to Trump Deputy Attorney General Rod “obstruction of justice” Rosenstein.


    Hur did his job, which was to smear Biden. Garland, his staff and the lazy faction of the corporate media failed at theirs.

  22. BryanInWNC says:

    The most likely reason for random classified documents ending up with Biden and Pence is that the VP’s office is a limited access area (LSA) certified for documents below SCI. Untrained staffers then packed everything, especially if the cover pages were not in place.

    With Trump it appears that the removal of the documents was deliberate. A whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

    The dairy is potentially a sign of another issue: unwillingness of the staff to gently remind Biden that what goes into a SCIF doesn’t come out without classification review. If standard classification procedures were followed a derivative classifier would have checked the notes. Except for emails you don’t do the checks yourself. I’ve been in a meeting on a classified project where I took notes on schedules, the schedules were unclassified but needed to be reviewed before they could be taken out of the facility.

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. Please be sure to use the same username and email address each time you comment. /~Rayne]

  23. SelaSela says:

    This morning, on the way back home after getting the kids to school, I listened to NPR reporting on the report. It sounded extremely damaging to Biden. They said the report found evidence of willful retention of classified documents, but not enough to press charges. And then they talked a whole bunch about Biden’s health and memory. And that was NPR. Not conservative news media.

    I know better than taking such report at surface value, so I got here and saw that just as I suspected, it was a bunch of baloney. But I’m afraid that in this world where fact don’t matter, only soundbites and spins, this report would be very damaging to Biden, and everything Trump wanted. It provides all the soundbites they need.

  24. punaise says:

    Good ole Ed Kilgore with An Old Guy’s Defense of Our Old-Guy President:

    And let’s just get this right out on the table: Barring some unprecedented development, the 2024 presidential election choice will be between an 81-year-old Democrat and a 78-year-old Republican. In terms of grammar, syntax, logic, and recall of important events, the former is more cogent on his worst days than the latter appears to be on his best days. So anyone planning to support Trump is welcome to do so on policy or partisan-power grounds but should be ashamed to claim that they just cannot vote for Joe Biden because he’s too old. Is Trump more “vigorous” than Biden, in terms of self-confidence and aggressiveness? Yes, but in the way that Attila the Hun was more “vigorous” than St. Francis of Assisi.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      What policy grounds? Donald and his party’s only policy is, “Back Trump!” Frenetic panic is not what I would call “vigor.” Otherwise, Ed wrote a nice paragraph.

      • punaise says:

        In my view, those were tongue in cheek euphemisms. On the other hand there is this:

        Sure, there are, of course, limits to the value of experience. When Casey Stengel was managing the New York Mets at the end of his career, as the story goes, one of his players was asked what it was like to play for such a living legend. “Casey has forgotten more about baseball than I’ll ever know,” the player said. “But that’s the problem — he’s forgotten it.” His team’s showing proved the point.

  25. Jacob S. Blaustein says:

    “So this was – I, early on, in ’09-I just found all the classified stuff downstairs-I wrote the President a handwritten 40-page memorandum arguing against deploying additional troops to Iraq-I mean, to Afghanistan-on the grounds that it wouldn’t matter, that the day we left would be like the day before we arrived. And I made the same argument … I wrote that piece 11 or 12 years ago.”

    This is a word salad…I don’t get it

    • Rayne says:

      Makes perfect sense to someone who’s taken dictation from persons who are trying to recall details from more than a decade ago at the same time they are trying to answer orally. In Biden’s case he’s also dealing with a speech impediment and evaluating what he is saying to prevent disclosure of methods and means at the same time.

      Keep in mind, too, that some of what he was recalling also had bleed-through knowledge from his time as two-time chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee post-9/11.

        • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

          Jacques Lacan teaches a way to analyze the agency of Hur’s language where its bad conscience provides an expressive dimension, a phenomenological, psychoanalytic approach where Hur’s writing is like the wish fulfillment of a dream transforming the awareness you describe, the real evidence of Biden’s innocence, into a symbolic field of the imaginary where Biden is guilty, so the awareness is there. In Lacan, I think, pleasure principle is regulating Hur’s symbolic distance from the Thing, whether he is conscious or not. His awareness is the subtext, though like the iceberg beneath the surface, what Nietzsche calls the ‘bad conscience’. To my reading this agency isn’t merely expressive but also directive, providing instructions for the reader. The bad conscience overrides Toulmin logic, where you see how his claims are barely justified in the referential dimension.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Or even Toulmin’s anti-logic. Whatever dimension that was intended for, pretty sure I would not describe it the way I described Rayne’s two paragraphs.

          • Rayne says:

            You’d think a journalist would have put those 388 pages through a composition analysis tool by now to count those adjectives and adverbs.

            Half tempted to spring for Hemingway Editor 3 app to do it myself.

            • klynn says:

              Ohmygooddess! THAT would be perfect! I wonder how long it would be? Edit out all the editorial opinions as well! That would be a worthwhile read!

              • Rayne says:

                Could take forever for me to go through 388 pages with my resources. I’m tempted to just do a random 10%.

                  • Rayne says:

                    Yes and no. Yes, it could do the job quickly and efficiently. But do we want to feed AI a biased POS which it will use for future tasks? Do we want to blow more CO2 on this in the process?

      • Error Prone says:

        Also the timing of when Biden gave Hur the interview matters. Right after Oct. 7. There were other things Biden had on his mind in giving Hur the courtesy of a lengthy interview then. He spoke extemporaneously, not from notes nor prepared briefing by aides.

        Garland should say, “The findings that cause to prosecute President Biden is lacking, from Mr. Hur after his investigations are accepted, dicta and all, and there are currently existing things in the office which do require further reflection and attention. Mr. Hur is thanked, and, personally, I wish him well in his future endeavors.”

        • Shadowalker says:

          Not while republicans are hellbent on impeaching Biden. That’s all they need is for Garland try to interfere, hide or change anything that a Trump appointee reports. They are already trying to impeach the President for things his surviving son did while both were private citizens. Make no mistake, Hur will be testifying before this congress and the less interference from the DOJ and/or the White House the better.

    • Peterr says:

      A transcript of verbal responses ALWAYS looks more verbally awkward than a written statement by the same person. As a preacher, a transcript of my sermon always looks less grammatically correct than a written version of what I intended to say might reflect.

    • freebird says:

      This is how people talk when they are jostling their memory. Frankly, if Biden knew that this would be the subject of a legal case, he would have paused and responded with complete sentences. When I listen to Biden, I think that he has a lot of thoughts in his head and he races through his comments.

      • Rayne says:

        Gee, I can’t imagine what could be going on in Biden’s life which might demand he hurry, or what might be competing for mental wattage.

        *eye roll*

  26. Cheez Whiz says:

    Does anyone know how normal it is for a prosecutor who declines to charge to wax poetic about what the uncharged defendant would offer in defense of the crime he was not charged for? Just seems odd, somehow.

  27. Lisboeta says:

    Did I read it on EW, or somewhere else? That Hur interviewed Biden on the day after the Hamas attack in Israel? When Biden was probably sleep-deprived, with more pressing issues on his mind than a few not-highly-classified documents that he had found and immediately voluntarily returned.

  28. MsJennyMD says:

    “I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment. I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service.” Robert Hur, January 12, 2023

  29. FL Resister says:

    The NPR Politics Podcast is often cringeworthy because lacks any depth. It’s as if in today’s episode, national political correspondent Sarah McCammon, senior White House correspondent Tamara Keith, senior editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro, political correspondent Ashley Lopez, and White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez are making sure that Republicans won’t pull any more of their funding.

    Incuriosity about the rhinoceros in the political mix like the Republican Party allying with Putin, and Trump derailing a solution at the border while a criminal defendant on serious charges in multiple courts, and a hit job on the privacy of President Biden’s son whose origins can be traced back to Trump, are just business as usual. And constant beating the drum of dissatisfaction with Biden is a constant media message.

    If a Trump prosecutor can find no evidence of a crime and so characterizes Joe Biden as weak and feckless and brings out his son Beau’s death as an associated example in his report on whether Biden unlawfully kept Security documents after he voluntarily contacted the FBI to turn them in, then the story is all about Robert Hur’s slurs.
    Yes Harpie, it is infuriating; yet all of the focus is on placating right-wingers.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      I’ve listened to a couple of NPR’s “Planet Money” pieces when Mr. Google includes them in a search on some topic in economics, and I’ve found them to be shallow–and susceptible to the neoliberal worldview. No examples because it’s been a while since I bothered.
      SNL’s NPR parodies are much better uses of your time, I can assure you.

  30. Upisdown says:

    “…arguing against deploying additional troops to Iraq-I mean, to Afghanistan-on the grounds that it wouldn’t matter, that the day we left would be like the day before we arrived.”

    That is what qualifies as TOP SECRET? It should be stamped “DUH” instead.

  31. mikerieux says:

    in a related note, James Comey is saying, “Jeezus, Hur…you released your report eight months early!”

    the immediate ‘damage’ of this report will fade, and the Democrats will ramp up their pointing out of trump’s gaffes and outright lies, not to mention his plans for autocracy

    • Peterr says:

      The substance of the report may fade, but the “Biden is too feeble” stuff will only mount as the GOP milks it for all they can.

        • Matt___B says:

          As Peterr says – willful blindness. Also mental laziness – people don’t want to face everyday difficulties. Let Big Daddy, who sez he will solve all my problems, solve my problems. This is the very definition of cult leader->follower dynamics. Even if the leader just says so, and doesn’t really come through, it hardly matters, because of the mantle of personal responsibility has already been passed to him.

      • Sue 'em Queequeg says:

        Hell, NYT is already milking it for them. Today’s front page had two or three “so worrisome” articles, an editorial saying the same, and a lovely opinion piece about how the question is not whether Biden bows out but how. You’d think they’d been champing at the bit to let loose with all this.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          This is what I was referencing, way above. Just imagine all the folks walking past those front pages, seeing only what’s splashed A1 above the fold: BIDEN OLD!

          I will not go back.

  32. Marinela says:

    I think is going to be a Congress sessions with HUR talking about his report.
    In preparation, democrats in the house should read and get prepared to contrast how Hur handled Mike Pence also.
    Did Hur wrote a special report after he declined to charge Mike Pence?
    How is Mike Pence situation different from Joe Bidden?

    Also why Garland appointed a republican to investigate Joe Biden, while he appointed a republican to investigate Mike Pence?

    It seems to me that Garland at the appointment time should have DOJ rules in place to prevent a “Comey” and enforce them rules.
    Also was there a report written on why Mike Pence was declined prosecution?

    Also why it took so long to complete Biden, but Mike Pence completed way earlier.

    • Sherrie H says:


      “But Attorney General Merrick B. Garland did not deem the matter serious enough to appoint a special counsel in the case, as he had done for the investigations into Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, senior law enforcement officials said.”

      Apparently Pence’s lawyer received a short letter informing them of the no-charges decision when the investigation ended, no report. Not sure if Hur investigated Pence, all I see credited are the FBI and DOJ’s National Security Division.

  33. ChicagoDD says:

    Guessing no way, but by chance, might there be any other partial or complete Hur depos done during his Gov’t work that could be publicly avail? Compare for: “I don’t recall’s” and his specific inferences/reactions.

  34. The Old Redneck says:

    This sentence has been bothering me:

    Mr. Biden will likely present himself to the jury, as he did during his interview with our office, as a sympathetic, well­ meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.

    Has anyone else read this carefully? It says Biden “will likely present himself” as someone with a poor memory. It doesn’t say he has a poor memory.

    Hur is really sniping about what he thinks is an opportunistic trial strategy for Biden. In other words: Biden will probably employ this tactic at trial, and it will probably work, regardless of what his memory is really like.

    No one seems to have picked up on this. It’s getting lost in the noise.

    • Rayne says:

      No, it was picked up on. That Hur said it at all is problematic — he had to have known the media would pick up and run with his editorialization of Biden’s possible defense.

  35. bgThenNow says:

    I recall the time when journalism was such an urgent job that people I knew started papers, did all the legwork to produce and distribute the content, and also raise funds, as volunteers. We have been lucky to have our local museum produce several topical exhibitions around this history. Which I think was replicated in many other places, though our homeboy, Danny Lyons, was a pivotal photographer starting with SNCC during the civil rights actions. Still covering unrest. Extraordinary.

    Back then alt-radio was not NPR. At the same time some of my peers were doing serious investigative work and being paid. After the media became mostly privately owned (remember when the airwaves belonged to “the people” and were publicly owned?) I do. Capitalism has commodified absolutely every thing. Hence the fall to the bottom of any dignity in journalism.

    We have to go back to our roots perhaps. Here is the Queen of Documents and the Queen of Facts. We need to help promote this information. Marcy’s report above needs to get some traction where it is useful. Is that our Senators and Representatives? We have contacts. We need to make sure this gets the pushback it deserves. And that it gets into the hands of more of the Democrats on the committees. Some of these people have done incredible work on these “investigations.” The Republicans literally have NOTHING. Nothing. I do want to believe the Democrats still stand for something. I know I do. I am the people. We need to stand.

  36. Error Prone says:

    Goes around, comes around irony? Clarence Thomas during his EEOC tenure downplayed (could we say evaded) his duty to pursue age discrimination:
    That never was made a factor in Biden’s chairing the Thomas nomination hearings. Now Hur is shoveling more ageism onto the pile already laid on Biden by Trumpists and others. Biden, facing age discrimination.

    It is sad. Today we should be more attuned to ageism in our nation than we were then. Are we?

  37. Tech Support says:

    The thing that confuounds me here, with Durham, with Hur, with Weiss, is the degree to which these prosecutors are given so much rope with which to do work that is objectively poor, and apparently in repeated violation of DOJs internal standards.

    I get the part where Garland may be painting himself into a corner with a principled-if-naive, militant impartiality… but it strikes me as being a fundamental error to take that position and then not put sufficient effort into deciding who to assign high-profile, politically charged investigations.

    • LaMissy! says:

      It is confounding.
      I know Sarah Kendzior can be a bit hair-on-fire at times, but her research often makes unseen or overlooked connections. She has the skinny on her substack as to who Garland is connected to, and it’s not pretty. If Kendzior is right it’s damn unnerving.

      From November:

      I do not want to talk about Merrick Garland again. It feels like doing homework for a class my country already failed.

      But it is necessary to do so. There is a shroud over the USA. It is woven of decades of deceit and impunity, but it is not interminable. There are threads that, when pulled, cause the shroud to unravel and Americans to see the light.

      One of those threads is Merrick Garland’s rise to power, and the role of his mentor and lifelong best friend, Jamie Gorelick, in that rise.

  38. Marinela says:

    If we discuss the age of President Biden, omitting individual mental acuity, then let’s discuss the Supreme court justices and also Congress members.

    Where is it more important to talk about the mental acuity, for the Presidency where it is limited to four years, or for a Justice that typically dies on the court. Plus there is no realistic mechanism to remove a justice if they lose their marbles.

    Justice Thomas, 75.
    Justice Alito, 73.
    Justice Sotomayor, 69.
    Chief Justice Roberts, 69.
    Justice Kagan, 63.
    Justice Kavanaugh, 58.
    Justice Gorsuch, 56.
    Justice Jackson, 53.
    Justice Barret 52.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      And I’ll wager a pretty penny that none of these justices have had to deal with the weight of daily (hourly?) events that demand attention. I’d love (NOT) to see how the two oldest justices would be able to cope with many urgent tasks needing decisions RIGHT NOW.

      • Marinela says:

        Joe Biden is a work horse. Trump didn’t take seriously the Presidency, acted like a clown because he has no idea what to do as President, so to mask his incompetency, he played marketing to MAGA.
        I was thinking about how hard must be for Joe to deal with Hunter legal problems, knowing that his son is targeted only because he is President.
        And now he needs to deal with Israel, Hamas disturbing war where everything is staked to prolong the conflict.
        I’m sure Trump tells Bibi to continue the war.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump won’t be any better at being presidential, or bother trying. He will be better at destroying things and people, including the govt itself. And he won’t hesitate a NY minute to get payback.

  39. Marinela says:

    Thank you. Makes sense.
    I suppose Garland could not do the same in Biden’s case since he is the President.

    Meant as a response to Sherrie H
    February 10, 2024 at 4:32 pm

  40. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The great Marina Hyde: “[I]s it fair that …[Biden] should face infinitely more scrutiny on the lost-plot front than…[Trump]?…Alas, fairness isn’t one of the base notes of political life.”

    Mr Hur says that part of the reason he didn’t bring charges was that “at trial, Mr Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” Oh dear. A real muffin-basket of an attack-line gifted to Donald Trump…, and confirmation of my long-held conviction that fake sympathy is far deadlier…than open attack.

  41. Savage Librarian says:

    Nikki Haley may be the person who stands to gain the most from the Hur report. Her husband is currently in the National Guard and once did a tour of duty in Afghanistan. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if Nikki and her campaign team knew something in advance about how the report would feature Afghanistan, as well as Trump, in addition to Biden. She’s the only one who comes out clean.

    She also has been backed by the Koch network. They have resources and connections that, theoretically, could have played a part in this report. So, the more I think about it, the more I think this report may have been written to benefit her.

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