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If Joe Biden Is ‘Sharp As Ever,’ Why Is He Trying To Suppress The Hur Audio?

Joe Biden says he has decided how to respond to attack in Jordan
Image CreditWFAA/YouTube

There is no legal reason to withhold the audio, only a political one.


Joe Biden is as “sharp as ever,” a man blessed with “strong mental acuity,” and in possession of preternaturally incisive intellect. This is just some of the commentary we heard after Special Counsel Robert Hur let the president off the hook for pilfering classified documents because he was an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

If all of this is true, though, why is the president trying to suppress audio of the interview?

Merrick Garland, one of the most nakedly partisan AGs in memory, has advised Biden to argue that the audio falls under executive privilege, which exists to allow a president to engage in candid and confidential conversations with his advisers without worrying about public disclosure.

Garland’s argument is odd for two reasons.

The first, which seems especially pertinent, is that Hur isn’t an adviser to the president. Tasked with investigating Biden’s decades-long mishandling of classified documents, Hur didn’t offer the president any guidance or chew the fat or work on policy or swap confidential stories. Hur was trying to figure out why Biden was hoarding classified documents.

The only reason, we should recall, Hur let Biden walk was that he believed the president lacked the mental acuity to be charged by a jury for breaking the law. Which means the tape will be important in allowing the public to ascertain whether the president is senile. This part is especially pertinent considering the other major presidential candidate is being prosecuted for the same crime.

Second, we already have the transcripts of the conversation. How could the interview fall under executive privilege when we already know what was discussed?

Recall, as well, that Biden was cognizant enough to have lied about the interview, which gives us another reason to want to hear it. “There’s even a reference that I don’t remember when my son died,” Biden barked at reporters after Hur released the report. “How in the hell dare he raise that? Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself: It wasn’t any of their damn business.”

The transcript shows that Biden was the one who brought up his late son Beau, not Hur. The president claimed he believed Beau had died in 2017 or 2018 when he had died of brain cancer in 2015. I’m sorry, that’s not the kind of event that slips a healthy person’s mind. Perhaps a president who has spent years trying to emotionally manipulate the public with misleading claims about the cause of his son’s death was just confused.

What the attempted suppression of the audio tells us is that this interaction — and others — will have far more impact on audio. And the White House has basically admitted as much.

“The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal — to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes,” White House Counsel Ed Siskel wrote in a letter to House Republicans. “Demanding such sensitive and constitutionally protected law enforcement materials from the executive branch because you want to manipulate them for potential political gain is inappropriate.”

First off, the tape is not “constitutionally protected law enforcement material,” whatever that means. There was never any expectation that the interview would not be made public. Nor is there anything “inappropriate” or illegal about using excerpts from an existing audio of a real conversation for political purposes. This is done thousands of times every year in political ads. Democrats have this habit of creating new rules whenever it suits them.

Moreover, one of the central arguments made by Republicans is that Biden isn’t mentally fit for the job. That’s a completely legitimate concern. It was a topic brought up in congressional hearings when Hur was grilled by Democrats. It should be a topic that real journalists are interested in figuring out. It is the kind of transparency that defenders of “democracy” should demand.

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