Will this needless special counsel report light a fire under Biden the Elderly?

President Joe Biden speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Will this needless special counsel report light a fire under Biden the Elderly?

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Jackie Calmes

February 10, 2024

Sure, Special Prosecutor Robert


Hur cleared President Biden of any crime in withholding classified documents after his vice presidency. But was the Republican lawyer nevertheless seeking a federal judgeship from a future Republican president, say from a re-elected and grateful Donald Trump?

with his

research report


released on Thursday?

Hurrah, a Trump appointee and member of the Federalist Society


hardly resembles it auditioning for a judicial nomination Through find


No criminal charges have been warranted against Biden, and there is no parallel to Trump’s alleged crimes involving classified information. Except this: Hur’s acquittal of Biden has been all but lost in the attention to his wildly unnecessary words about the president’s age and


diminished abilities during Biden’s five-hour testimony before investigators.

Hur is too smart and politically savvy not to have anticipated the headlines:

Older man with a bad memory

blared the front page of Murdoch’s New York Post, citing the special counsel’s report.

The report was a gift to Trump and

his colleague

Republicans are addressing Biden’s biggest weakness among voters: their doubts about the ability of octogenarians to keep doing their jobs. Hur admitted on the first page of the report that after a year of investigation there were no investigators


to file a case against the president for willingly keeping and sharing classified information. That should have been the end.

Instead of


Hur further justified not pressing charges because Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview with him, as a likable, well-meaning, older man with a bad memory.

By adding that politically charged commentary, Hur merely violated the Justice Department’s fact-finding protocols, as he should have known given Comey’s precedent: In 2018, the

Department DOJs

Inspector General excoriated then-FBI Director James B. Comey for criticizing Hillary Clinton, when she ran for president against Trump, as grossly careless in handling classified materials, even as Comey announced that no reasonable prosecutor could would file charges against her.

How ironic: Trump is once again getting support from the Justice Department, which he and Republicans otherwise claim is arming the government against him.

Trump immediately sent a fundraising email embracing the report as evidence that Biden is unfit even to stand trial. (Unlike himself, four indictments and 91 felony charges?) Following Trump as usual, House Republican leaders issued a joint statement calling Biden unfit for the Oval Office. (That was rich, after their own very bad week of government incompetence showed up again


these legislators are unfit for Congress.)

Republicans would be crazy


to exploit Hur’s words for political gain. We will see and hear them in Trump’s political ads and speeches from now until November.

But Biden can push back in those same months. The damage is done, Democrats. Get over it and get on with it.

Surrogates can help, proving the president’s adequacy in their private dealings with him. (Last fall, Politico reported that since-ousted Chairman Kevin McCarthy privately told Republican allies that Biden was sharp and substantive in their conversations, even as McCarthy publicly derided the president as evasive.)

But Biden’s recovery ultimately requires


and tell. Only he can show skeptical voters that he is on top of things. The president can’t get any younger, but he can do a lot more to face the public and let Americans judge for themselves.

To that end, Biden was right when he spoke on camera in prime time Thursday, as word of the Hurs report spread, and strongly countered it. Yes, it was shocking that he misidentified the president of Egypt as the president of Mexico, but Trump recently called the leader of Hungary the head of Turkey and confused Nikki Haley

and with

Nancy Pelosi seven times in a false rant about January 6th.

Biden was wrong to decline for the second time the somewhat traditional invitation, this year from CBS, to be interviewed during the Super Bowl pregame show. We hope viewers enjoy watching what they tuned in for the game, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told Variety. Okay, many viewers run to the refrigerator when the president comes on screen. But that still leaves a large and diverse audience of tens of millions of people to see Biden with his mind around him.

To be fair, Biden is crisscrossing the country meeting voters and showcasing the projects made possible by laws he signed. But he had fewer press conferences than any president in the past century except Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Too often, it seems that Biden is in a cocoon spun by aides, allowing critics and supporters to conclude that he is protected from making public blunders. But what’s worse: Biden’s blunders or Trump’s non-stop lies?

Only Biden can demonstrate the mastery of foreign and domestic affairs that he possesses, thanks to his decades in public service. And


he must.

This way he can be re-elected. And if he does, that will mean four more years with no Republican president to appoint

Robert K. Hur

be a federal judge.



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