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Political spotlight on prosecutor following Biden report


Special Counsel Robert Hur highlighted US President Joe Biden's primary political vulnerability - his advanced age - by characterising him as "an elderly individual with a deficient memory" who struggled to recollect significant events in his personal history.


On Friday, the president's team launched a counterattack against Mr. Hur's report, which resulted from a year-long investigation into Mr. Biden's handling of sensitive documents. In response, Vice-President Kamala Harris accused the special counsel of having obvious political motivations.

A spokesperson from the White House deemed the news as "inappropriate" and said that legal experts shared this perspective.

According to many ex-federal prosecutors and solicitors, using intimate information in such cases is unusual.

However, several individuals said that Mr Hur, a Republican appointed to this position by Mr Biden's attorney general, was reasonable in using the president's memory and age to justify his choice not to press charges against him for retaining secret papers.

Special counsels must investigate sensitive matters and communicate their final findings effectively to the public. This problem becomes significantly more demanding when the target of the investigation is the current president, especially during an election year.

According to Mr. Hur's assessment, published on Thursday, it was determined that Mr. Biden, who is 81 years old, deliberately kept secret documents even after he finished his term as vice president in 2017.


However, he expressed concerns about the difficulty of obtaining a conviction due to the potential negative perception of Mr Biden's age and attitude among jurors.


In a section, Mr Hur said that Mr Biden's recollection of critical events was "considerably restricted.” In a separate instance, he offered a specific illustration by stating that Mr Biden failed to recall "even the approximate timeframe of his son Beau's passing, despite the passage of several years.”

Steven Tyrell, a corporate attorney and former head of the US Justice Department's fraud division, expressed his belief that the extensive information provided in Mr. Hur's comprehensive report was warranted.

"The special counsel must clearly explain the reasons behind any decision to press charges," he said.

"If it is indeed true that the president's mental state and cognitive abilities were deemed significant in establishing his intention, then Special Counsel Hur deserves praise for taking that into account."

Attorney General Merrick Garland selected Robert Hur, a Republican, to lead this probe.

Regrettably for Mr. Biden, the exact specifics were somewhat incriminating for a political candidate already facing criticism over his elderly age.

According to several specialists interviewed, certain aspects of the information provided, particularly the mentions of his son's demise, were deemed unnecessary.

"Certain examples were both revealing and appropriately incorporated," said Ty Cobb, the former legal advisor to the White House during Donald Trump's administration.

"However, a few of them caused me significant hesitation."

Mr Cobb, similar to several solicitors interviewed by the BBC, emphasised his profound admiration for Mr Hur.

"However, I believe it would have been more effective to state that the president would have been a compassionate defendant, rather than delving into the intricacies of memory issues as extensively as they did," he said.

Renato Mariotti, a former assistant attorney in the US, said the level of specificity in Mr. Biden's recall indicated a need for better decision-making.

"Prosecutors are expected to exhibit impartiality in their treatment of individuals under investigation, and I believe that Mr. Hur failed to do so in this case," he said.

According to the experts interviewed by the BBC, special counsels are often cognisant of the potential political response that their report may provoke. However, this awareness should be independent of their conclusions.

This statement holds particularly true for Mr. Hur, who disclosed the results of this study a mere nine months before the November presidential election. Mr. Biden is seeking re-election for a second term.

Seth DuCharme, a former federal prosecutor who held key positions in the justice department throughout the Trump administration, described the role as demanding and anxiety-inducing.

"Upon observing it, one is likely to exhale audibly and experience a sense of resignation, realising that regardless of one's efforts or words, the inevitable outcome is that someone will react strongly and irrationally to this," he said.

"Furthermore, it is possible that this situation might result in tangible political repercussions.

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