Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday tapped a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland to serve as special counsel to investigate classified documents found at President Joe Biden’s home and a former office.
Robert K. Hur, who will take over the investigation, was Maryland’s top federal prosecutor for almost three years, between April 2018 and February 2021, and was appointed by President Donald Trump.
Before that appointment, Hur worked in the U.S. Department of Justice in the senior leadership team and as a top aide to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, himself a former U.S. Attorney for Maryland.
Hur was also an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland for seven years.
“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial and dispassionate judgment,” Hur said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service.”
In announcing Hur’s appointment, Garland said he would take over the investigation into “possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records” at Biden’s Delaware home and at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
The initial investigation had been handled by U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr., but Garland said it was in the “public interest” to appoint a special counsel, for both independence and accountability.
Outgoing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday called Hur a “prosecutor of the highest caliber and integrity,” adding that he’d made him chair of his Asian American Hate Crimes Workgroup.
“I have faith in his ability to get the facts and hold power to account,” Hogan said. “In this country, no one is above the law.”
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, told The Baltimore Sun that Hur is a “true professional” and he has confidence in his integrity, independence and competency to conduct the investigation.
“He was very open with us, very responsive and has a great reputation,” Cardin said Thursday. “We are very proud to support his nomination.”
Cardin added he believes an independent counsel is appropriate for this case given how high-profile it is. He also said he believed it would be a “straightforward matter,” as Biden did “the right thing” after discovering he had classified documents.
“I hope it’ll be done as quickly as possible,” Cardin said.
Biden previously told reporters he was fully cooperating with the investigation.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office during Hur’s tenure handled cases of public corruption involving such officials as former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl DeSousa.
Hur has recently worked in private practice in Washington, D.C.
He is also on the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland.
Ronald Weich, the dean of the University of Baltimore law school, said Hur has an excellent reputation in Maryland as a “consummate professional” and someone who is “completely apolitical.” That’s important in an investigation like this, said Weich, because this is a matter that “should be handled without any political considerations.”
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland has always handled sensitive political matters, added Weich, who formerly worked as an assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice.
During Hur’s time in the office, Weich said, he approached the investigations in a nonpolitical way, looking at “the facts and the laws” in assessing whether prosecution was appropriate.
“I’m sure he’ll do that in this assignment,” Weich said.
Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, who also previously served in the U.S. Justice Department, echoed Weich, saying he believed Hur’s investigation would be a “straight” examination of law and facts, without outside influence.
“His resume is outstanding, and his reputation [as U.S. Attorney for Maryland] was outstanding,” Greenberger said, calling that “noteworthy” as his appointment came during the Trump administration.
Hur’s current assignment, Greenberger said, “will be done in a very competent fashion and thorough fashion ... according to the book.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.