“Comey 2.0”: Legal experts say Republican special counsel’s Biden attack “entirely inappropriate”

Legal experts on Thursday criticized a report from special counsel Robert Hur that cleared President Joe Biden in the classified documents case but criticized his memory.

Hur, who was appointed as a U.S. attorney by former President Donald Trump before being tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland to probe classified documents found in Biden’s residence and office, wrote in his report that Biden “willfully” retained materials but would not face charges.

“It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him — by then a former president well into his eighties — of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness,” Hur wrote, calling Biden’s memory “hazy,” “fuzzy,” “faulty” and “poor” and claiming that Biden could not recall when his son Beau died or when he served as vice president.

“My memory is fine,” Biden said Thursday, denying he forgot when his son died but later mistakenly referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi as “the president of Mexico.”

Biden said the report’s descriptions of his memory were “extraneous commentary” that “had no place in this report.”

Biden blasted the part about his son’s death.

“How in the hell dare he raise that?” he said.

“Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, it wasn’t any of their damn business,” he continued. “Every Memorial Day we hold a service remembering him, attended by friends and family and the people who loved him. I don’t need anyone, I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away.”

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who served on special counsel Bob Mueller’s team, agreed that Hur’s commentary was “entirely inappropriate.”

“It is also exactly what you’re not supposed to do, which is putting your thumb on the scale that could have political repercussions,” Weissmann said, calling Hur’s comments “irrelevant” and “gratuitous.”

“You either decide to go forward, that there is proof here, or you don’t say anything at all with respect to your opinions about the case,” he said.

Weissmann compared the report to former FBI Director James Comey’s press conference announcing that he would not charge Hillary Clinton in the private server probe while criticizing her for mishandling documents.

“The appropriate thing to do there is to just say ‘we’re declining, there’s insufficient proof,’” Weissmann said. “It is not a time to have a press conference to state, ‘Oh, by the way, let me give you my personal views.’”

Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal agreed that the commentary was “totally gratuitous.”

“I’m not aware of anything quite like this, in which you’ve got a special counsel going after the sitting president for being too old and having a faulty memory,” he said.

National security attorney Bradley Moss tweeted that what Hur did “with these irrelevant and extraneous remarks is the same thing DOJ used as the basis to fire James Comey in 2017.”

“Seven years later, they did it again. Seriously. Unreal,” he wrote.

Hur “crossed a line,” wrote former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance.

“Hur’s comments about age and memory, which are the predictable headlines today, were a cheap shot with a capital ‘C.’  Barely disguised as going to proof, they were a rank political gift to Trump,” agreed former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called Hur’s report an “outrage” and a “disgrace” and criticized Garland for his “mistake” in appointing a Republican prosecutor.

“I mean, the idea that they that he would make such a big point of Biden being elderly is not something a prosecutor needed to do,” he said. “That report didn’t have to be 300 pages. I mean, that report showed that Merrick Garland again made the classic Democratic mistake, which is ‘I know I’ll appoint a Republican, a Republican partisan, to investigate, and that will give us credibility.’ No, it never works,” he continued, arguing that Hur did “exactly the same thing” as Comey.

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Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, told MSNBC that Hur’s report was “sloppy” and a “political gift” to Trump. Aronberg suggested that Hur’s report was aimed at avoiding the criticism from Republicans aimed at David Weiss, the prosecutor who investigated Hunter Biden.

“The question to me is why did he do this? I think the reason is he was motivated to avoid David Weiss’s fate. David Weiss is hated by his own party. I think that’s why Robert Hur did this. It’s Comey 2.0,” he said.

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