First on CNN: House GOP in discussions with Biden special counsel Robert Hur for testimony

US Attorney Robert Hur speaks outside of the US District Court, in Baltimore, Maryland on November 21, 2019.

US Attorney Robert Hur speaks outside of the US District Court, in Baltimore, Maryland on November 21, 2019. Michael A. McCoy/Reuters/File

House Republicans have reached out to special counsel Robert Hur to discuss having him testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee about his report on President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Hur’s report released last week did not charge the president with a crime, but it painted a picture of a forgetful commander in chief who failed to properly protect highly sensitive classified information – a depiction that could hurt Biden politically and that Republicans have seized on.

Hur has retained Bill Burck as his personal attorney. While there is no date on the calendar, they are looking toward the end of February, one of the sources told CNN. The Justice Department declined to comment.

In the wake of the report, House Oversight Chairman James Comer has separately said the Justice Department should provide his committee with all of the classified materials that could relate to the Republican-led impeachment inquiry into the president.

“The Justice Department must provide Congress with unfettered access to these documents to determine if President Biden’s retention of sensitive materials were used to help the Bidens’ influence peddling schemes,” Comer said in a statement provided to CNN.

House Oversight Republicans have also called on the Justice Department to release the full transcript of the president’s interview with the special counsel that is quoted in the final report.

The two special counsels appointed during the Trump presidency, Robert Mueller and John Durham, both testified to Congress once they submitted their reports to the Justice Department.

After expressing some reluctance, Mueller agreed to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees in July 2019 about his investigation, delivering halting and stilted responses that mostly stuck to his report.

The negotiations for Mueller’s appearance stretched out for weeks, ultimately leading to an agreement where Mueller appeared after he was subpoenaed.

Last June, Durham testified to the House Judiciary Committee about his investigation and report into the FBI’s probe into Trump and Russia, and he spoke behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee.

Hur’s special counsel report found that Biden willfully retained classified information, including top secret documents, and knew he was in possession of some documents as far back as 2017. He also shared some of that information with the ghostwriter of his 2017 memoir.

The special counsel decided not to charge the president in the case – primarily because he found that nothing proved a willful intent by Biden to illegally hold onto classified information and the president cooperated with the investigation.

Yet, in a politically damaging line of reasoning, Hur wrote that one reason Biden wasn’t going to be prosecuted was because he would present to a jury as an elderly man “with a poor memory.” Biden’s lawyers objected to the description – calling it “investigative excess” and accusing Hur of flouting Justice Department rules and norms.

The report is sure to become an issue in the 2024 campaign – where Biden’s likely opponent, Donald Trump, is facing criminal charges for his handling of classified material, even though Hur made clear how different the two cases were.

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