President Joe Biden speaks at Earth Rider Brewery in Superior, Wis., on Jan. 25, 2024. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden retained documents related to Ukraine that were classified as “secret” and “confidential,” according to a report by Justice Department’s special counsel Robert Hur, released on Feb. 8.
The 388-page report
states that the FBI found a folder labeled “VP Personal,” containing two documents—a telephone call sheet and talking points for a call with then-Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, which occurred on Dec. 11, 2015—marked as “secret.”
There is a handwritten note from President Biden in the upper-right corner of the sheet asking his executive assistant to “get [a] copy of this conversation from Sit Rm for my Records please.” The document was labeled “confidential” and “EYES ONLY DO NOT COPY.”
Additionally, one appendix in the report states that President Biden kept a memo with the subject line “U.S. Energy Assistance to Ukraine,” from September 2014. The results of the classification review indicate the memo was “confidential.”
President Biden served as vice president under the Obama administration at the time. His son, Hunter Biden, joined the board of directors of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings in May 2014.
However, Mr. Hur said there is “reasonable doubt that Mr. Biden willfully retained” the documents. He refused to pursue charges, citing a lack of evidence to do so.
“Mr. Biden’s handwritten note does not request that executive assistant save the classified call sheet containing talking points for the call (A9) in his records; rather, he only requested the transcript of the phone call itself,” the report reads.
“And no jury could reasonably find that the substance of the call between Mr. Biden and the Ukrainian prime minister was national defense information.”
According to the report, the two “exchanged pleasantries and the Prime Minister heaped praise upon Mr. Biden for his December 9, 2015, speech to Ukraine’s parliament.”
The report states that President Biden and the Ukrainian prime minister “did not engage in a substantive policy discussion.”
“There may be technical or nuanced reasons to maintain the classification of the call, but no reasonable jury could conclude the call or its contents were national defense information after the end of [the] Obama administration, or that by asking for a transcript of the call Biden intended to retain national defense information,” it stated.
Mr. Hur also said
that President Biden was found to have “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”
These materials include “marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and notebooks containing Mr. Biden’s handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods.”
Nonetheless, Mr. Hur said that “the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” and that “prosecution of Mr. Biden is also unwarranted based on our consideration of the aggravating and mitigating factors set forth in the Department of Justice’s principles of federal prosecution.”
Biden’s Alleged Bribe Scheme in Burisma Case
A confidential source provided information
to the FBI in 2020 alleging that President Biden and his son were bribed to pressure Ukraine to remove a prosecutor investigating Burisma, according to a document made public on July 20.
Burisma contacted the source to seek assistance in buying a U.S. company to merge with, in the hope that it could go public in the United States.
After the disclosure of an investigation into Burisma by Ukraine’s prosecutor general Viktor Shokin in 2016, the source informed Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma, that it could negatively affect the company’s prospective initial public offering.
Mr. Zlochevsky replied that Mr. Hunter Biden “will take care of all of those issues through his dad,” according to the document. Mr. Shokin resigned
in March 2016.
President Biden in 2018 bragged at the Council of Foreign Relations
that he got Mr. Shokin dismissed.
“‘We’re leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” he said about his interaction with Ukrainian officials, referring to a $1 billion loan guarantee he threatened to withhold. “Well, son of a [expletive]. He got fired.”
Mr. Shokin has said
that the threat was cited when he was ousted. He said in a sworn statement
that then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked him to resign because of “pressure from the U.S. presidential administration, in particular from Joe Biden.”
Jackson Richman and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.