Light Wave

U.S. News

Special Counsel declines to charge President Biden over ‘willfully retained’ classified documents

By Jake Beardslee · February 8, 2024

In brief…

  • Special counsel Robert Hur will not recommend charges against President Biden related to classified documents.
  • Investigation found evidence Biden "willfully retained" classified information at personal residence.
  • Hur concluded evidence doesn't establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt and cited mitigating factors.
  • Probe interviewed 100 officials including Blinken and Hunter Biden over improperly removed records.
  • Contrasts with Trump classified records probe that led to indictment as Biden cooperated with Archives.
Special counsel declines to recommend charges against President Biden for retaining classified documents after leaving office despite uncovering evidence of willful retention, citing insufficient evidence of criminal intent and mitigating factors.  The White House/Wikimedia

Special counsel Robert Hur announced Thursday that he will not recommend criminal charges against President Joe Biden for retaining classified documents after leaving office as vice president. Hur’s investigation uncovered evidence that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified information” at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, according to ABC News. The materials included “marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan” as well as notebooks with “sensitive intelligence,” according to the report.

However, Hur concluded that “the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” He also cited mitigating factors in the Justice Department’s prosecution principles. “For these reasons, we decline prosecution of Mr. Biden,” the report stated. The White House said Biden will not assert executive privilege over any part of the report, honoring his “commitment to cooperation and transparency.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Hur as special counsel last January after classified documents were discovered at Biden’s former office. Investigators interviewed around 100 officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Hunter Biden. Sources say the improper removal of documents when Biden left office in 2017 seems to have been a mistake rather than a crime.

The probe contrasts with the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified records, which led to a 40-count indictment. Trump has tried to draw equivalences between his conduct and Biden’s, claiming political targeting. But the National Archives said Biden’s team cooperated, while prosecutors allege Trump purposefully withheld records.