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    Capitol Hill hearing puts Robert Hur, investigator behind Biden classified documents probe, back in the spotlight

    Special counsel Robert Hur, at the start of his investigation, was lauded as an experienced and fair federal prosecutor who was well-versed in handling high-profile and complex investigations.

    After a year of near total public silence, Hur released a damning report detailing President Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified material and was met with resounding backlash from politicians and pundits across the aisle, including from the president himself.

    As the former US attorney appointed by then-President Donald Trump steps into the halls of Congress to testify Tuesday, his background – and how critics and allies of the president believe that may have seeped into his investigation – is once again going to be thrust into the spotlight.

    In his few past public appearances, Hur has appeared personable and comfortable in front of friendly audiences.

    At a farewell event for then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Hur cracked jokes to uproarious laughter. And during a 2017 White House press briefing, Hur spoke about investigating gang violence. At both events, he appeared to stick to prepared remarks and did not face any questions.

    Rosenstein defended Hur, saying special counsel reports are often controversial.

    “Almost every investigation turns up adverse information about the suspect that normally remains confidential when charges are not pursued,” Rosenstein told CNN. “Public outcry about special counsel reports is inevitable because internal reports contain embarrassing details people would prefer not to make public and subjective opinions that anyone is free to question.”

    Prior to his time with the Justice Department, Hur was a law clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and also clerked for a federal appellate judge, Alex Kozinski. He graduated from Stanford Law School in 2001.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Hur as special counsel in January 2023. At the time, Hur, who had an extensive career at the Justice Department, had begun working in the private sector in Washington, DC.

    In 2018, Hur was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to serve as US attorney in Maryland after being nominated by Trump. In the job, Hur played a key role in a number of high-profile cases, including a children’s book scandal involving then-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh that resulted in Pugh being sentenced to three years in prison.

    After his tenure as US attorney, Hur served as the principal associate deputy attorney general with the Justice Department. As one of his responsibilities at the department, Hur acted as a liaison for Rosenstein with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Over the past year, Hur was tasked with investigating classified documents found at Biden’s home and private office from his time as vice president. Hur was seen as a meticulous investigator during the probe, sources told CNN.

    One lawyer who represented a witness in the investigation described Hur’s process as being slow and methodical. This witness was interviewed, the lawyer told CNN, and then asked for additional documents months later.

    Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

    US Attorney Robert Hur speaks to the press after former Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion in November 21, 2019.

    “They are certainly being sufficiently thorough and there is a temptation to think they are doing some things twice,” the attorney told CNN.

    Democrats echoed similar notions when Hur was first tapped as special counsel, holding up the former prosecutor as fair and thorough. But some in the party quickly changed their tune after Hur released his report, which painted Biden as doddering and feckless.

    Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, for example, described Hur in the days after he was appointed as “trustworthy” and able to “get to the bottom of it.”

    After the reports public release, however, Raskin accused Hur of taking “ridiculous cheap shots at Biden’s age.” Another ally of the president, CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod, referred to the report as a “shiv the special counsel stuck into the Biden reelection campaign.”

    Biden himself fired back against Hur’s depiction of him, saying in remarks after the report was released that “I know what the hell I’m doing. I’ve been president – I put this country back on its feet. I don’t need his recommendation.”

    Republican lawmakers have slammed Hur for declining to prosecute Biden, comparing his case to that of Trump, who is facing criminal charges over his handling of classified documents as part of a separate special counsel investigation – even though Hur made clear how different the two cases were.

    Trump addressed the report in a campaign speech, saying that Biden got off “scot-free.” A pro-Trump super PAC claimed that the decision not to prosecute displayed a “two-tiered justice system.”

    Rosenstein noted that public outcry over the special counsel’s report is “inevitable” and highlighted the “robust analysis” Hur put forward on whether Biden’s actions warranted prosecution.

    “Many people mistakenly believe a prosecutor’s only job is to determine whether the evidence proves a suspect’s guilt,” Rosenstein said. “Rob’s report addresses that issue with a robust analysis of both the incriminating evidence and the exculpatory evidence. The report also grapples with the challenging question of whether the case warrants prosecution.”

    While the facts of Hur’s report and the overall process of the investigation haven’t been challenged, Hur is still set to face difficult questions from members of Congress on both sides over whether his final determinations went too far or not far enough.

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