The special prosecutor investigating President Biden said in a statement report released Thursday that he had decided “no criminal charges were warranted” against Mr. Biden for his handling of classified documents after leaving the vice presidency in early 2017, but that he had found evidence that Mr. Biden had deliberately retained and disclosed certain sensitive documents.
Robert K. Hur, the special counsel, declared in his very unflattering report that Mr. Biden left the White House after his vice presidency with classified documents on Afghanistan and notebooks with handwritten entries “implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods” from internal White House briefings.
The report said Mr. Biden had shared the contents of the notebooks with a ghostwriter who helped him with his 2017 memoir, “Promise Me, Dad.”» even though he knew part of it was classified.
Even though Mr. Hur decided not to prosecute Mr. Biden, some of his reasons are likely to raise new questions about the president's conduct and his mental state, describing him as unable in interviews to remember dates keys to his own vice-presidency. and even precisely at the time when his son Beau had died.
“Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview with him, as an elderly, friendly, well-meaning man with a poor memory,” Mr. Hur wrote.
It would be difficult to convince a jury after Mr. Biden leaves office that “an octogenarian former president” was guilty of a crime that “requires a mental state of will,” Mr. Hur added.
But Mr. Hur's assessment will provide powerful new political arguments for President Donald J. Trump in his battle to discredit the department following his much more serious investigation into its retention of classified documents, which resulted in criminal charges against him. last summer. Mr. Hur's report includes a photograph of the open box in which the FBI found classified documents on Afghanistan in Mr. Biden's cluttered garage, next to a ladder and old exercise equipment .
White House officials said Mr. Biden cooperated fully with the investigation and took the handling of classified information seriously.
“We disagree with a number of inaccurate and inappropriate comments contained in the Special Prosecutor's report. Nevertheless, the most important decision made by the special counsel – that no charges are warranted – is firmly based on the facts and evidence,” Richard Sauber, Mr. Biden’s special counsel, said in a statement.
Mr. Hur, a former Trump Justice Department official appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in January 2023 to lead the investigation after classified files were discovered in the garage and living areas of Ms. Hur's home. Biden in Delaware and in his former office in Washington said his decision not to pursue criminal charges would have been the same even if Justice Department policy did not prevent indicting a sitting president.
“We conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Mr. Hur wrote in his more than 300-page report.
In the report's introduction, Mr. Hur cited Mr. Biden's cooperation with investigators, in stark contrast to former President Donald J. Trump's behavior when documents were discovered at his Florida resort, as one of the factors in his decision not to lay charges.
Unlike Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump refused to return the documents he kept “after being given several chances to return the documents and avoid prosecution,” he wrote.
In a recorded conversation at a rented property in Virginia in February 2017 — a month after leaving office — Mr. Biden told his ghostwriter that he “just found all the classified stuff down there.”
Mr. Hur said the exchange was the strongest basis for a prosecution he had found, but that a jury was unlikely to convict Mr. Biden, given that he had become accustomed to legally retain documents as vice president, he may not have fully adjusted. to the new restrictions and believed he had the right to keep his personal notes – based on the fact that President Reagan had kept similar documents for decades.
Mr. Hur could not establish whether the classified documents discovered at Mr. Biden's home were deliberately kept, or whether they were obtained during his vice presidency and improperly stored.
The classified document discovered in Mr Biden's Delaware garage in a “badly damaged box surrounded by household trash” indicated he may have simply forgotten he had it over the years, rather than having intentionally broke the law, Mr. Hur concluded.