Bauer was resolute that the 81-year-old president isn’t dogged by memory troubles and admonished Hur’s report as “shabby work.”
“This is a report that went off the rails — a shabby work product,” Bauer, who rarely conducts public interviews, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday.
“Along with the legal conclusion comes this flood of characterizations, factual misstatements, [and] pejorative comments about the president that are inconsistent with DOJ policy and norms,” he added. “This is not what prosecutors do.”
Despite his fierce criticisms of the Hur report, Bauer hailed its legal analysis as “foregone and correct.”
Hur concluded that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials,” but declined to press charges citing precedent, Biden’s cooperation and, controversially, that a jury would likely see him as a “well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.”
Bauer revealed that he never sought to conceal the 388-page report, which was released to the public last Thursday, accompanied by a letter written by Bauer and Biden’s special counsel Richard Sauber that slammed some of its findings.
Recounting that he was in the room when Hur grilled Biden for some five hours last year, Bauer took issue with the special counsel’s description of events.
“I recall from that interview a president who engaged with the questions very directly and gave his best recollection,” Bauer said.
“The special counsel’s decision to cherry-pick in a very misleading way some of the references that you’re discussing here is an example of what I call a really shabby work product,” Bauer added.
Bauer also claimed that during the interview with Hur last October, the president was able to pick apart some of the special counsel’s questions.
“There were a couple of occasions when the special counsel … asked questions that the president picked apart as a matter of logic, he showed that the question didn’t have a logical underpinning,” Bauer said.
Joe Biden’s classified documents probe report
- Special counsel Robert Hur determined that President Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials” after leaving office as vice president in 2016.
- The records kept by Biden included documents on military and foreign policy in Afghanistan as well as other national security and foreign policy issues.
- Biden kept the classified documents in part to assist with the writing of his memoirs. According to the report, Biden told a ghostwriter in a 2017 conversation that he had “just found all the classified stuff downstairs.”
- Despite the findings, Hur’s 388-page report recommended that the president not face charges.
- The special counsel noted that Biden would likely present himself to a jury as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” if he were to face trial.
“I didn’t come away from the special counsel’s failure to ask precise questions and think to myself, he has mental acuity problems, I just thought he was asking bad questions.”
Biden bristled over aspects of Hur’s report, particularly a section where the special counsel alleged he “did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.”
“How the hell dare he raise that? Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damned business,” President Biden raged at a press conference last Thursday.
Bauer demurred when asked whether Biden’s team would be okay with the Justice Department releasing some of the transcripts of the Hur interview.
He was also evasive when asked if Biden took action against his former aides, whom he blamed for the classified document debacle.
Some of the criticism Biden’s allies have lodged against Hur, a Trump-appointed former US attorney for Maryland, bears a resemblance to his predecessor’s recent gripes against the Justice Department.
Former President Donald Trump has assailed the DOJ for mounting a “witch hunt” rigged against him as he faces a total of 91 criminal counts, including from the district attorneys of Fulton County, Ga. and Manhattan.
“I’m not arguing that the system is rigged. We’re looking at this particular performance by this particular special counsel in this particular case,” Bauer countered.