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RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.: Special counsel report was no ‘hit job’

And you thought only wacky Republicans push implausible conspiracies (such as those that connect the NFL, the Super Bowl and Taylor Swift).

Way-out Democrats are not far behind. Some of them now claim that the report issued by special counsel Robert Hur — who investigated President Joe Biden’s retention of classified documents from his time as a senator and as vice president — could have been written by the Republican National Committee.

The 388-page report released on Feb. 8 was slammed by Dan Pfeiffer, a former adviser to President Barack Obama and a liberal media commentator, as a “partisan hit job.”

If that’s true, then the contract must have been put out by the person who appointed Hur. That would be Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Democrat handpicked by Biden.

It’s also bizarre that Democrats are so worked up over a report that ultimately recommended that charges not be filed against Biden. They should take the win.

Yet Democrats and the White House are acting as if they’re on the losing end of the report. And it’s all because of the reason Hur offered up as to why he didn’t recommend charges be filed against the 81-year-old president.

The report states: “We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Invoking Biden’s age hit Democrats where it hurts. According to multiple polls over the past year, a majority of them didn’t want Biden to run for re-election at all. Now they’re stuck with him.

A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that a staggering 86 percent of Americans think Biden is too old to serve another term as president. Among Democrats, 73 percent say Biden is too old to serve a second term.

The White House is so sensitive to the age issue that Biden’s lawyers objected to the report before it was released. According to The Washington Post, the attorneys sent letters to Hur and Garland insisting that the special counsel made “multiple denigrating statements about President Biden’s memory” which “openly, obviously, and blatantly violate Department policy and practice.”

The Justice Department — that would be, the Biden Justice Department — responded that Hur’s language was appropriate and followed DOJ guidelines.

That won’t convince Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect, who insisted that the special counsel’s report was filled with “gratuitous and nasty asides about Biden’s age and memory” and that it “reads like something written by the Trump campaign as a hit job.” In fact, he snarked, you would “almost think Hur was a Republican operative.” Kuttner also noted that Hur — who served as U.S. attorney for Maryland from 2018 to 2021, after being appointed by Trump — identifies as a Republican.

If Hur did the bidding of Republicans, he should have been more careful. After all, he managed to throw the GOP’s likely presidential nominee under the bus. The report spelled out the distinctions between Biden’s case of document retention and the case against Trump brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

“Mr. Biden turned in classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice, consented to the search of multiple locations including his homes, sat for a voluntary interview and in other ways cooperated with the investigation,” the report noted.

With Trump, there was no cooperation with authorities. Only defiance.

After “being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite,” the report said. “According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for many months, but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it.”

If the report was indeed a “partisan hit job” aimed at Biden, Trump seemed to get hit even harder.

The truth is, the most troubling part of the special counsel’s report comes down to these eight words: “as he did during our interview of him.” Hur wrote that it was Biden who presented himself to investigators as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

If that’s true, then it was Biden — and not Hur — who first raised the issue of his age and memory. He can’t very well run away from it now.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is crimscribe@icloud.com. His podcast, “Ruben in the Center,” is available through every podcast app.

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