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Here we are, facing another Comey political hit job like the one he did on Hillary Clinton.
Robert Hur’s Special Counsel report exonerated President Joe Biden on the classified documents case. But that’s not the headline. The press took the bait as if they learned nothing from 2016. The headline from folks like the AP was:
This is a good time to point out that President Biden sat for this interview for two days, October 8th and 9th, as he was dealing with the international crisis of the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th.
This partisan hit job on President Joe Biden went so low as to attack him in a DOJ report for not recalling the date his son died, a matter that was wholly unrelated to the issue of classified documents and had no place in an official report given by someone who does not have any expertise in memory issues and was not called upon to give a report about anything other than classified documents.
The report was issued by a Trump appointee and Trump supporter whom Merrick Garland appointed as special counsel over Biden for some unknown reason. This man even stated that Biden willfully took the documents and shared them, yet later in the report admits he has no proof of this.
Is this a clown show? What is going on? Why wasn’t the report even looked at by Garland before being published?
You might be wondering why Biden’s age is even being raised as a concern when his opponent is an adjudicated rapist found liable for fraud who faces 91 felony counts, including for acts against the United States, and is not only an authoritarian but also “elderly” with memory problems.
The point, or at least result, is to conflate Biden and Trump as similar, while glossing over Trump’s egregious criminal indictments, incompetency as president, two impeachments, sexual assault accusations including a jury finding him liable for rape, and worst of all his attack on this nation after he lost an election and the continued attempts to use lies about fraud to steal votes from over 81 million Americans.
That is the story.
The real story is how different these two men are, even though on the surface they are both white, older, and stumble when speaking.
And even this requires context, because while both men forget names and dates, Trump speaks in second or third grade phrases; it’s not clear he has a grasp of nuanced policy on any matter, whereas Biden clearly does. Biden goes to work every day and does the job; Trump did not. Etc. Biden holds press conferences and takes questions he answers with comprehension of policy, even when he stumbles, which he does. The man has a stutter and he is older, but even younger politicians misspeak often enough that this shouldn’t even be raising eyebrows.
As they were criticizing President Biden for his “memory” issues, Sean Hannity couldn’t pronounce Angela Merkel’s name and Jesse Watters called Kristi Noem the Governor of South Carolina.
Are they being fired?
Speaker Johnson confused Israel with Iran on Meet the Press. Is his memory the topic of discussion? Why not?
Just in passing, Trump forgot what year he was president during his time on the stand in a New York trial, as president he suggested Frederick Douglass was still alive and ‘being recognized more and more,’ he confused a photo of his rape victim for his ex-wife during a deposition, called Nikki Haley Nancy Pelosi repeatedly, thought he was running against Barack Obama, said Viktor Orban is the leader of Turkey, claimed voter ID is required to buy bread, had to be told where he was during a speech.
There are three parts to this equation on how propaganda works: The DOJ, the Press, and You.
Former justice officials say Hur put his “thumb on the scale”
Former FBI general counsel Andrew Weissman on MSNBC: “Unfortunately we’re seeing a redux of what we saw with respect to James Comey at the FBI with respect to Hillary Clinton.” He also called the report " Entirely inappropriate, that's not the role of the Department of Justice… It's gratuitous. It's what you're not supposed to do which is putting your thumb on the scale that could have political repercussions. Adjectives and adverbs, those have no place... stick to the facts.”
Neal Katyal Former Acting U.S. Solicitor General : “My first tour at the Justice Department, I wrote the special counsel regulations that give this special counsel Robert Hur his power. And at the end of it, we actually said that there shouldn't be a public report in general, that there shouldn’t be a kind of list of adjectives, to use Andrew’s phrase, that would occur.
I'm not aware of anything quite like this, in which you’ve got a special counsel going after the sitting president for being too old and having a faulty memory. That is, you know, he's come up with a clever way to get those adjectives in there by saying, well, if I brought this case to trial, this is what I would face from a jury.”
Former AG Eric Holder: “Special Counsel Hur report on Biden classified documents issues contains way too many gratuitous remarks and is flatly inconsistent with long standing DOJ traditions. Had this report been been subject to a normal DOJ review these remarks would undoubtedly have been excised.”
CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin: “It was outrageous that Hur put in some of that stuff in this report. That had no place in it. There is no reason this report had to be 300 pages. There is no reason why this fairly straightforward case had to be treated this way. I mean this is just like what James Comey did to Hillary Clinton…The job of prosecutors is to put up or shut up. If you have a case, bring your case. If you don't have a case, shut the hell up.”
Why exactly did Hur go beyond the point: “The evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”?
Instead, he began his op-ed into Biden’s mental state and memory in the future – something that has zero relevance to the issue and read more like the Tumblr post of a confused teenager --in what can only be described as a political gift to Donald Trump.
And Garland did not review or did review and allowed this completely unsupported opinion to remain, even though he was well aware that Hur’s bio was an advertisement of his potential political agenda.
A commentator wrote me on X: “I investigate and write reports like this SC report for a living. I have never once deviated from the essential facts and conclusions to answer the question I am to address: Is there sufficient evidence to…”
This is the second Trump appointed Special Counsel he has appointed, perhaps in a mistaken and misguided effort to appear neutral to Republicans, who are never going to even care if someone is neutral.
This frankly is the biggest weakness we have facing authoritarianism: A desire to be even-handed when the opposition is playing a death match and the belief that somehow only Republicans can be trusted to fairly judge a Democrat, but also only Republicans can be trusted to fairly judge a Republican president.
Funny how that works.
Garland was a non-partisan, highly ethical institutionalist who would have made the perfect Supreme Court justice. His ethics alone would have changed the course of SCOTUS from what it has become.
But we are fighting encroaching authoritarianism, and this requires a certain temperament and spine. Garland is a brilliant person with high integrity, but we can see how easily exploited is his excessive tendency toward congeniality and institutionalism.
Not every person with integrity can be a warrior, though, and Garland is showing himself to be incapable of rising to this moment in history. On this matter, I continue my criticism of his appointment to Attorney General, and no, it won’t matter how much people yell at me about it.
The press feasted on the carcass of Biden’s grief and it was grotesque.
Last night, the White House press corps attacked Biden in what can only be called a feeding frenzy of ambulance-chasing cheap tabloid tactics. They attacked Biden harder than they’ve ever come at Trump, who is facing 91 indictments and tried to overthrow the U.S. government to steal an election. They were so rabid career journalists expressed their disgust.
This environment is certainly not about justice or fairness and way too much of the DC press is operating more as tabloid media than as political press. The people are going to have to insist on better by refusing to reward this tabloid orientation to political coverage.
Biden's press conference showed the same thing his performance in office has shown for 3 years: he can do the job Mexico for Egypt meant nothing but the GOP political apparatus is a bad-faith enterprise and mainstream press has been knocked silly by financial/political pressure
Four separate articles in the NYT today about Biden’s age today, including a *35 paragraph* front page article on a verbal gaffe.
Trump’s own verbal gaffes are mentioned once, 21 paragraphs in, wherein we’re told they don’t matter because “voters do not question his sharpness.”
This isn’t journalism, this is electioneering. And it isn’t reporting, it’s punditry. This is the press openly speculating on politics rather reporting on substance, quite literally calling balls and strikes on what they deem voters should and shouldn’t care about.”
And Aaron Fritschner (DCoS/CD Rep. Don Beyer):
Biden addressed their concern, gave the access they wanted, patiently waited through wildly screamed questions, and gave a long substantive answer that marked a shift in US foreign policy on a major conflict. They’re fixating on a slip. Did anyone in that room - did one single person genuinely believe he doesn’t know who Sisi is or what country he rules? If so ring me, I will eagerly await your call. If you knew what he meant and you knew he knew what he meant maybe you should cover the SUBSTANCE OF HIS ANSWER
How it should have been handled:
BBC: Joe Biden: A political hand grenade disguised as a report
This takes us to the last element of the propaganda.
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Garland allowed this political operative to inject a piece of blatant propaganda into an election year, the goal was clearly to manipulate you. And make no mistake, it is effective, even on smart people.
Every non-MAGA voter repeating and concern trolling this hit job on Biden is part of the problem.
We wouldn’t see the Right repeating attacks like this against Trump, because they are in a cult. The Left prides itself on not being a cult, and so for decades has taken relentless criticism of their own president as a badge of their own intelligence. Certainly, we should encourage examination and critical thinking about every single politician.
But we can’t expect political gains if we do not give political cover and can’t expect a democracy if we say we can’t possibly vote for Biden because he’s too old, even knowing that your stance means women will be denied healthcare nationwide and undocumented immigrants will be killed and black people will be murdered by the police even more than they are already.
This election is bigger than our feelings and we’ve got to grow up as a populace by stopping the waiting for a unicorn approach.
There likely won’t be another Obama for a generation. Obama’s charisma motivated people but we have to motivate ourselves and our communities based on shared ideas and principles and a love for democracy.
Don’t let your friends and family be the sucker who falls for Republican propaganda every single election year, while fooling themselves that there’s a unicorn so perfect Republicans wouldn’t lie about them. There is NO candidate who is so great that the Republicans won’t destroy them with manufactured drama. The one people dream of is only unscathed so far because they are not successfully running against Donald Trump.
Tell your friends, family and colleagues: Wake up. Your county needs you.
Any doubts? Show them this. John Harwood talked to Biden at the White House 10 days before Hur did. Watch the video and decide for yourselves.
What do think about Robert Hur and the Biden press conference? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.