WASHINGTON: The special counsel who investigated Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents defended his controversial remarks about the US president’s memory on Tuesday and his decision not to file criminal charges.

Robert Hur’s testimony before a congressional committee quickly turned into a partisan affair with Democrats and Republicans seizing on the contrasting behavior of Biden and Donald Trump, who has been indicted for his own mishandling of top-secret documents.

Republicans have particularly focused on Hur’s comments in the report about Biden’s memory, hoping to reignite the age issue for the 81-year-old Democrat ahead of an expected rematch against 77-year-old Republican Trump in the November presidential election.

In his 350-page report released in February, Hur declined to recommend criminal charges against Biden and — in a politically explosive section — described him as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

“My task was to determine whether the president retained or disclosed national defense information ‘willfully’ — meaning, knowingly and with the intent to do something the law forbids,” Hur told the House Judiciary Committee. “For that reason, I had to consider the president’s memory and overall mental state.

“My assessment in the report about the relevance of the president’s memory was necessary and accurate and fair,” Hur said. “I did not sanitize my explanation. Nor did I disparage the president unfairly.”

Democratic lawmakers pushed back against Hur, a registered Republican, accusing him of making “gratuitous” remarks about Biden’s memory and injecting himself into the presidential campaign.

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