I tuned in to the teevee last night to hear commentary on yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing, and instead I caught some of President Biden’s press conference in which reporters were grilling him to find out if he could find his own nose and maybe he should check into the old folks’ home already. That was when I learned about the Biden special counsel report.
Let’s just say I am beyond furious. I’m also done giving Merrick Garland the benefit of doubts.
Josh Marshall’s Thoughts on the Hur Report express it all pretty well.
First off, this is another example of the universal rule: Republican special counsels are chosen to investigate Democrats. And Republican special counsels are chosen to investigate Republicans. It may not have been a great idea for Merrick Garland to have a two-time Trump appointee investigate Joe Biden. But here we are. Robert Hur totally slimed Biden with these gratuitous comments about his mental acuity and memory, referring to him as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” Even if you assume they are the product of a good faith evaluation they are still wildly inappropriate.
DOJ guidelines make clear that if you’re not bringing charges you don’t bash the subject of the investigation in your announcement (a la James Comey). You certainly aren’t supposed to affirmatively attempt to demean the subject of the investigation with clearly political attacks that aren’t even related to what you’re investigating. Hur might as well have called him “Fake News Joe Biden.” It’s really that transparent and that bad.
I just learned this:
The descriptions in the report sound bad because they are designed to sound bad. These are from a five hour discussion the day after the October 7th attacks on Israel when I’m sure Biden was focused on that unfolding crisis. Without watching the interview we have no way of knowing whether these are representative of the tenor of the conversation or cherry-picked gotchas.
Merrick Garland should have not released a report that violated DoJ guidelines. Of course, if the final report had been re-written or redacted that would have caused no end of speculation about what was left out. But I think that would have been less damaging. Joe Biden is going to have to spend the next few months persuading the American people he’s not senile. Nobody needed this. Well, maybe Trump.
Members of the House already are calling for Biden to be deposed via the 25th Amendment provision in section 4. Fortunately the House has no part in that, so it’s not going to happen. And there may be time for some of the damage to be undone. We’ll see. And Joe Biden on his worst day is brilliant compared to Trump.
See also Robert Hur’s Box Checking at Emptywheel.
As far as the hearings yesterday are concerned, it’s pretty clear the justices aren’t going to side with Colorado. It was frustrating to hear them ignore the very real insurrection and Trump’s role in it. I don’t know that there’s much else to say.
With everything else going on you may not have heard what’s been happening with Loose Cannon and the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Loose had decided Jack Smith and his people must submit documents in the case without redacting witnesses’ names and other information that the government wants to keep private. Smith is arguing that making the names of witnesses public would expose them to “significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation, and harassment.” Because that’s what happens with anything dealing with Trump. According to Forbes,
Among the documents prosecutors think should remain sealed or redacted are a list of all the FBI agents who searched Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate; an excerpt from a witness’ grand jury testimony that reveals “non-public” details about Mar-A-Lago’s layout, including where Trump’s son Barron’s bedroom is; and reports on witness interviews, including of civil servants and “former close advisors to defendant Trump.”
One document at issue also includes details of “uncharged potentially obstructive conduct by a defendant, and speculation about witness tampering by an uncharged individual,” Smith wrote.
This is likely to drag on for a while, but eventually Jack Smith could appeal Loose’s decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday Smith filed a brief with Cannon saying she had made a “clear error” in insisting that witness names not be redacted. Apparently the precedent is that such information may be redacted in discovery, which is the stage they are still in with that trial.