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Robert Hur, a ‘no nonsense’ former prosecutor, will examine Biden documents

As a top attorney at the Justice Department during the Trump administration, Robert K. Hur was a key official overseeing and helping to manage the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference. He met regularly with Robert S. Mueller III’s team and reported back to department leaders.

Now Hur, the former U.S. attorney in Maryland, will be leading his own highly sensitive investigation after his appointment Thursday as special counsel to examine the handling of classified documents found at President Biden’s home and former office.

Hur, who returned to private practice in 2021, worked closely with former deputy U.S. 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 Thursday, Hur said in a statement that he would conduct the investigation with “fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment.”

In earlier stints in government, Hur was constantly called on to make important, sensitive decisions, often with limited information, and then to respond to the second guessing that followed, said Rosenstein.

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

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

Hur, 49, spent nearly three years as Maryland’s top federal prosecutor and built a reputation as an empathetic leader who managed the office through the pandemic. He was named to the post by former Republican president Donald Trump but with the backing of the state’s two Democratic senators.

“He’s a true professional,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a Biden ally, noting Hur’s previous work connected 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 did not shy from high-profile prosecutions of elected officials including former Baltimore mayor Catherine E. Pugh; former Baltimore police commissioner Darryl De Sousa; two Maryland state delegates; several police officers on Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force; and correctional officers in state prisons.

He oversaw the prosecutions of national security threats and gang-related crimes, and he personally tried the first federal jury trial held in-person in the D.C. region during the pandemic, which had shuttered in-person jury trials nationwide.

Hur also brings to the role experience with investigations into the handling of classified documents. His office prosecuted a former National Security Agency contractor who pleaded guilty to stealing classified materials — the equivalent of 500 million pages — and stashing them at his home over two decades. The man’s attorney described the former contractor as a hoarder, and the information he kept was not shared with anyone.

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

When Hur stepped down in early 2021, the pandemic was raging, and the U.S. attorney’s office was mostly working from home. A large number of his colleagues gathered outside Hur’s house to say goodbye — from a distance — and to show their appreciation.

Even defense attorneys, whose clients were targeted by Hur’s office, consider him a straight shooter. Steven A. Silverman, an attorney who represented the former Baltimore mayor, dealt regularly with Hur’s office and described him as “no nonsense.”

“He’s always proven to be a fair-minded, nonpartisan seeker of justice,” Silverman said. “He’s not going to be politically swayed one way or the other.”

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 law clerk to Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.

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

At the Justice Department on Thursday, Garland announced that Hur would examine whether “any person or entity violated the law in connection with this matter” and that he will tackle the assignment “in an evenhanded and urgent manner.”

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

In taking on the role, Hur will work full-time at 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-D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine. The suit accuses them of colluding to deceive and mislead customers about an investigation of the team’s workplace to maintain its fan base and revenue.

Alice Crites contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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