March 13, 2024


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Schiff spars with Hur in heated exchange over report that ‘disparaged’ Biden: ‘That did not happen’

Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff sparred with former Special Counsel Robert Hur during a contentious House hearing on Tuesday as the California congressman accused Hur of playing politics with his report on President Biden’s handling of classified documents, which earned pushback from Hur.

‘I want to go back to your opening statement in which you said that you did not disparage the president, your report, but of course, you did disparage the president,’ Schiff told Hur during Tuesday’s hearing.

‘You disparaged him in terms you had to know would have a maximal political impact. You understood your report would be public, right?’

‘I understood, based on comments that the attorney general had made, that he had committed to make as much of my report public, as consistent with legal policy and legal requirements,’ Hur responded.

Schiff then suggested that Hur ‘could have’ simply commented on instances where Biden could not remember information about certain documents rather than make a ‘generalized statement’ about his memory, referencing the much talked-about section of the report in which Hur characterized Biden as an ‘elderly man with a poor memory.’

‘Congressman, I could have written my report, theoretically, in a way that omitted references to the president’s memory,’ Hur explained. ‘But that would have been an incomplete and improper report and that it did not reflect my analysis.’

Schiff continued to press Hur and accused him of knowing he would start a ‘political firestorm’ with the language he used, to which Hurr said ‘politics played no part whatsoever’ in the investigation.

‘What you did write was deeply prejudicial to the interests of the president, you say it wasn’t political, and yet you must have understood,’ Schiff said. ‘You must have understood the impact of your words. You must have understood the impact of your decision to go beyond the specifics of a particular document, to go to the very general, to your own personal prejudicial, subjective opinion of the president, one you knew would be amplified by his political opponent. When you knew that would influence a political campaign, you had to understand, and you did it anyway. You did it anyway.’

Schiff then attempted to discuss allegations against former President Trump, at which point Hur, a registered Republican, went back and again addressed the notion that his report was influenced by politics.

‘I need to address something that you said in your prior question of what you were suggesting is that I needed to provide a different version of my report that would be fit for public release,’ Hur said. ‘That is nowhere in the rules. I was to prepare a confidential report that was comprehensive and thorough.’

‘What is in the rules, Mr. Hur?’ Schiff said. ‘What is in the rules is you don’t gratuitously do things to prejudice the subject of an investigation when you’re declining to prosecute you don’t gratuitously add language that you know will be useful in a political campaign. You were not born yesterday. You understood exactly what you were doing. It was a choice.’

‘You certainly didn’t have to include that language. You could have said vis a vis the documents that were from the university. The president did not recall. There is nothing more common. You know this. I know this. There is nothing more common with a witness of any age when asked about events that are years old to say, I do not recall. Indeed, they’re instructed by their attorney to do that if they have any question about it. You understood that you made a choice. That was a political choice. It was the wrong choice. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.’

During the next line of questioning, Hur went back and addressed Schiff. 

‘Congressman, what you are suggesting is that I shape, sanitize, omit portions of my reasoning, an explanation to the attorney general for political reasons,’ Hur said. 

‘No,’ Schiff shot back. ‘I suggest that you do not shape [a] report for political reasons, which is what you did.’

‘That did not happen, Congressman, that did not happen,’ Hur said back before the next line of questioning began.

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