Robert Hur, a ‘no-nonsense’ former prosecutor, will look over Biden’s documents

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As one of the top Justice Department attorneys during the Trump administration, Robert K. Hur was a key official who oversaw and helped manage the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in elections. He met regularly with Robert S. Mueller III’s staff and reported to department leaders.

Now, Hur, the former U.S. Attorney for Maryland, will lead his own highly sensitive investigation following his appointment Thursday as special counsel to look into the handling of classified documents found in President Biden’s home and former office.

Hur, who returned to private practice in 2021, worked closely with former Deputy US Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein at the Justice Department and was previously a special assistant to now FBI Director Christopher A. Wray.

After Attorney General Merrick Garland announced his appointment on Thursday, Hur said in a statement that he would conduct the investigation with “fair, impartial and dispassionate judgment.”

In previous stints in government, Hur was constantly called upon to make important and sensitive decisions, often with limited information, and then respond to second guesses that followed, Rosenstein said.

“Rob understands the need to ignore politics and focus on what matters. He will not be influenced by partisan political considerations,” said Rosenstein, who preceded Hur as attorney general of Maryland.

“He understands the pressure you face in these jobs,” said Rosenstein, “and he’s very good at making effective and efficient decisions.”

Hur, 49, spent nearly three years as Maryland’s top federal prosecutor and has built a reputation as an empathetic leader who has managed the job during the pandemic. He was nominated for the position by former Republican President Donald Trump, but with the support of two Democratic senators from the state.

“He’s a true professional,” said Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a Biden ally, noting Hur’s past work related to the Mueller investigation. “He’s been in this position before; he understands the sensitivity of this position.

During his tenure in Maryland, Hur’s office has not shied away from high-level prosecutions from elected officials, including former Baltimore mayor Catherine E. Pugh; former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa; two state delegates from Maryland; several officers from the Baltimore Gun Tracing Task Force; and corrections officers in state prisons.

He oversaw the prosecution of national security threats and gang-related crimes and personally judged the first in-person federal jury trial held in the DC area during the pandemic, which ended personal jury trials nationwide.

Hur also brings experience investigating the handling of classified documents to the role. His office sued a former National Security Agency contractor who pleaded guilty to stealing classified materials – equivalent to 500 million pages – and hiding them in his home for two decades. The man’s lawyer described the former contractor as a hoarder, and the information he kept was not shared with anyone.

In a 2019 press release, Hur said the man’s nine-year prison sentence “should serve as a warning that we will find and prosecute government officials and contractors who flagrantly violate their duty to protect classified materials.”

When Hur left office in early 2021, the pandemic was at an all-time high and the US Attorney’s office was mostly working from home. A large number of colleagues gathered outside Hur’s home to say goodbye – from a distance – and show their gratitude.

Even the defense attorneys whose clients Hur’s office has targeted consider him a sharpshooter. Steven A. Silverman, an attorney who represented the former mayor of Baltimore, regularly negotiated with Hur’s office and described it as “nonsense”.

“He has always proven himself to be a fair and non-partisan seeker of justice,” said Silverman. “He will not be politically influenced one way or the other.”

Where Biden’s classified documents were found, which led to the investigation

Hur’s low-key, soft-spoken demeanor belies his high-powered credentials. After graduating from Harvard College and Stanford Law School, Hur worked as a clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and a Supreme Court clerk for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

Hur is a registered Republican, according to Maryland voter registration. Last year he contributed $500 to the failed GOP Senate primary bid of former Vermont attorney Christina Nolan, and in 2008 he donated $201 to the presidential campaign of John McCain, the late senator from Arizona, the records show.

At the Justice Department on Thursday, Garland announced that Hur would look into whether “any person or entity has violated the law in this matter” and would address the task “impartially and urgently.”

As a special counsel, Hur will have more independence from Justice Department leaders than other federal prosecutors, but he will ultimately answer to Garland.

Upon taking over, Hur will work full-time in the department and, at least temporarily, leave his private practice at Gibson Dunn. Hur recently began representing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder in a consumer protection lawsuit filed in November by then-DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine. The lawsuit accuses them of colluding to deceive and mislead customers over an investigation of the team’s workplace to maintain their fan base and revenue.

Alice Crites contributed to this report.

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