Biden’s 5-Hour Interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur: Key Takeaways from the Transcript

In February, Robert Hur, the then-special counsel, unveiled his report on President Biden’s management of classified documents. Hur concluded that it was improbable a jury would convict Mr. Biden, portraying him as a well-intentioned, elderly individual with a faltering memory. This characterization sparked joy among Republicans while simultaneously enraging the president and his supporters, despite Hur absolving Mr. Biden of any criminal misconduct.

A closer examination of Hur’s interview with President Biden in October, as reviewed by CBS News, offers a more comprehensive insight into their five-hour dialogue. The conversation was marked by professionalism, courtesy, and moments of light-heartedness. President Biden admitted his lack of awareness regarding the presence of classified documents from his extensive public service career in his personal and office spaces.

During the interview, Hur praised President Biden for his substantial cooperation with the investigation, encouraging him to share his most accurate memories of past events. “I understand some questions pertain to incidents that occurred years ago,” Hur remarked. President Biden, with a touch of humor, responded, “I’m a young man, so it’s not an issue for me.”

Hur’s report highlighted Mr. Biden’s difficulty in recalling the date of his son Beau’s passing from brain cancer, a point that deeply upset the president. Mr. Biden, in discussions with the media following the report’s release, expressed his indignation, questioning the relevance of such a personal detail to the investigation. Despite struggling to remember the exact year, Mr. Biden accurately recalled the day and month of his son’s death during the interview.

The transcript also reveals President Biden’s occasional lapses in memory, such as confusing the year Donald Trump was elected and the end of his own vice presidency. These moments of forgetfulness are not uncommon for Mr. Biden, who has faced challenges with recalling names and dates during public appearances.

Hur is set to present his findings to the House Judiciary Committee. His tenure at the Justice Department concluded with the submission of his report in early February, which found insufficient evidence to prove Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr. Biden disclosed to investigators his detachment from the packing and moving processes of his offices, attributing the responsibility almost entirely to his staff. “I didn’t pay any attention to how they packed it up,” he stated, emphasizing his lack of knowledge regarding the contents of the files moved.

Over two days in October, President Biden and his legal team engaged with special counsel Hur and his investigators in the White House Map Room. The discussions revolved around the packing of Mr. Biden’s vice presidential residence and offices in 2017, the transportation of materials, and their eventual storage at his properties in Virginia and Delaware.

Classified documents were discovered in Biden’s garage and home office in Wilmington, Delaware. Some documents were found in his driveway after relocating from his Virginia rental home and the Penn Biden Center office space in Washington, D.C. When questioned about the boxes seen in a photo of his garage, Mr. Biden candidly replied, “I have no goddamn idea.”

The president humorously remarked on his tendency to accumulate papers, photos, and memorabilia over the years, never to revisit them. Classified notebooks were found scattered throughout his Wilmington residence. Mr. Biden expressed a wish for better organization but maintained he was unaware of their classified contents.

“If I had written notes in my book, they’re my notes and my property,” Mr. Biden asserted, emphasizing a practice he believed was shared by his predecessors.

The interview, taking place amidst the Hamas attack on Israel, saw Mr. Biden clarifying his stance on the classified documents, insisting he retained nothing he believed to be classified. A particular statement to his memoir’s ghostwriter, Mark Zwonitzer, was scrutinized, where Mr. Biden mentioned finding classified materials. He later clarified he had no recollection of this comment, which referred to a 2009 memo to President Obama about Afghanistan, found in his garage.

Throughout the interview, President Biden also delved into various anecdotes from his extensive career, including international trips, a legal case early in his career, electric cars, and eulogies he has delivered, showcasing the breadth of his experiences and the values he holds dear, such as integrity and reputation.