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Absolutely Not Photographic: Dems Bring the Babbling Receipts

Amidst a fraught political landscape where totalitarian clouds loom, we celebrate House Democrats whose smarts and prowess may yet save us. Thus did a hearing on special counsel Robert Hur’s hit job on classified documents – which only charged Biden …

Amidst a fraught political landscape where totalitarian clouds loom, we celebrate House Democrats whose smarts and prowess may yet save us. Thus did a hearing on special counsel Robert Hur's hit job on classified documents - which only charged Biden with being a "well-meaning, elderly man" - turn into another hot mess for GOP hacks and yahoos after Dems laid bare Hur's lies and their demented stable genius yammering word salad into the unseemly air.

Tuesday's hearing before a GOP-run House Judiciary Committee, like all the GOP's sham actions before it, quickly went sideways for Republicans hungry to find something, anything, to charge the imaginary "Biden crime family" with. Hur was already on the defensive after an outraged response to what many deemed his gratuitous digs at Biden's cognitive abilities, clearly a discomfiting pot/kettle set-up from the start. The Democrats' case only got stronger after newly released transcripts showed, less than shockingly, that many of Hur's conclusions were manipulative bullshit, a point savvy Dems repeatedly, delightedly hammered home. Under pressure, Hur insisted his unsolicited opinion of Biden's cognitive skills was "necessary and accurate and fair"; he also stood by calling him a "sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory" and rejected the idea he "exonerated" Biden with, "That word does not appear in the report." Then again, Dems noted, another word missing from the report is "photographic," which is what he admiringly called Biden's memory in the transcript. Awkward.

Of course this is not the first rodeo where GOP clowns fell off their steeds. In a feckless Congressional session on track to be the least productive of any American Congress since 1931, the GOP has become "a full-blown, corruption-riddled, nepotism-laden cult of incompetency," according to a former GOP fat cat who says he's "out" after a lifetime of giving money to candidates. "I donated to help win elections, not to maintain the lifestyle of a billionaire," he wrote. "No point donating now." And it's getting worse. A razor-thin majority in the House just got flimsier, much like Mike Johnson's support, with the resignation of Colorado's right-wing Ken Buck; wingnut losers like shrieky MTG get improbably dumber; candidates are so rabid they boast about burning books before they're even elected; another in a long line of criminals in the law-and-order-save-our-kids party was just sentenced to 410 years in prison on multiple counts of child sex abuse; and the new RNC head is a former personal trainer whose first act with her mobster father-in-law was undertaking a "bloodbath" of the faithful.

Meanwhile, he's still shooting off his mouth. He announced his "first acts as your next President" will be to "Close the Border, DRILL, BABY, DRILL, and Free the January 6th Hostages," he randomly flip-flopped on banning TikTok (now nay) 'cause maybe he can get some money toward the cool half-billion he owes, and he bleated out he wants to cut Social Security and Medicare - eloquently, "There’s tremendous amounts of things and numbers of things you can do" - which is the least popular thing he could do after ending women's reproductive freedom and making his lackeys kill the border bill. He tried to backpedal, but Dems quickly put up an ad quoting him - with Biden vowing, "I will stop you" - because they're so much better at this. See Jamie Raskin's grammar lessons to Boebert and Santos - "Banana Republican Party" and "the truth is resilient" - or Eric Swalwell's questions to Hunter Biden - "Did your father operate a hotel where foreign nationals spent millions while he was in office," employ family members, receive 41 trademarks from China, make a multi-million-dollar deal with the Saudis - ending with, "That's all I've got."

And so to Hur's report on senile geezer Joe Biden, where scripts were again masterfully flipped. Hur, a registered Republican who served in Trump's Justice Department, told House members that "partisan politics had no place whatsoever in my work." That didn't go over well with Repubs who've never met a partisan hack they didn't like, even the weaselly Hur who they were depending on to bring charges, deserved or no. "I want to thank you for the work you did as far as you could," menaced Rep. Tom Tiffany. "But unfortunately you are part of the praetorian guard that guards the swamp here (in) DC, protecting the elites, and Joe Biden is part of that company of elites." Say what? Matt Gaetz, meanwhile, couldn't decide if Hur found "no criminal charges are warranted in this matter" because Biden was "senile," or because Biden was “a little craftier, a little more devious (than) we might otherwise think." Wisconsin Rep. Scott Fitzgerlad gave it another desperate shot. He read aloud Webster's definition of senile and asked Hur, "Did you find that the president was senile?" Life is full of disappointments: Hur said, "I did not."

The transcript showed he did, however, overstate Biden's supposed "poor memory," a finding that hinged largely on his occasionally hedging on dates - unlike the rest of us over, say, 40. Biden sometimes hesitated over the year something happened - including the death of his son Beau - but vividly recalled even painful specifics: "What year did he die? Oh God, May 30th." He was quick-witted - to one photo Hur showed him: "You can tell it's old - I have my arm around Lindsey Graham" - and lively, veering off-topic to extol electric cars he'd tried out: "Damn, they're quick!" Because Dems had come to play, Rep. Jerry Nadler was quick to contrast all that with a "sizzle reel" of Trump speeches packed with blather: Words mangled, putting Paris in Germany, forgetting who he was married to when, confusing Obama and Biden, Balkan with Baltic, North and South Korea, oranges and origins. "That is a man (who) is wholly unfit for office," Nadler concluded at the ungainly end of the linguistic carnage, "and a man who, at the very least, ought to think twice before accusing others of cognitive decline."

Democrats flip the script on Republican's sham hearing with a supercut of receipts

And so it went. One after the other, Democrats had done their homework and brought their receipts, which were glorious. Before he offered up his own super-cut of incoherence, Eric Swalwell went to the transcript, which, yes, he'd read. On the subject of a house he visited in Mongolia that Biden evidently described to Hur in detail, "You said, 'You...appear to have a photographic understanding and recall of the house.' Did you say that to President Biden?" Hur, slimy, after long pause. "Those words do appear on page 47 of the transcript." Swalwell: "'Photographic' is what you said, is that right?" Hur: "That word does appear on page 47 of the transcript." Swalwell: "It never appeared in your report, though, is that correct? The word 'photographic?'" Hur: "It does not appear in my report." Swalwell, calmly: "Now I want to show you something that is absolutely not photographic." Cue more Trump mayhem: Slurred words, the brave frontline workers on 7/11, God bless the United Shates, windmills driving driving whales a little batty etc. Ever-shameless Gym Jordan, horrified by too much masochism even for him, finally cut him off.

Rep. Jim Jordan cuts off second supercut of Trump being hot mess in disastrous committee hearing

Pennsylvania Rep. Madeleine Dean likewise brandished Hur's own words before him, this time on the vital "material distinctions" between how Biden and Trump handled the issue of classified documents improperly taken - that Biden cooperated, thus ruling out willful, criminal intent. Dean went one better by making Hur read his report aloud - and thus condemn Trump - himself. Hur kept stopping; each time, Dean said, "Go on." "The allegations set forth in the indictment of Mr. Trump, if proven, would present serious aggravating facts," Hur read. "Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite...He not only refused to return the documents for many months, but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it. In contrast, Mr. Biden turned in classified documents to the National Archives (and DOJ), consented to the search of multiple locations including his homes, sat for a voluntary interview, and in other ways cooperated with the investigation."

For his turn, Rep. Ted lieu went the Swalwell route, asking the reluctant Hur a series of pointed questions he knew the answers to that, cumulatively, proved deeply damning. His first question: "In your investigation, did you find that President Biden directed his lawyer to lie to the FBI?” Hur: "We identified no such evidence." Lieu: "Did you find that President Biden directed his lawyer to destroy classified documents?” Hur: "No." And on and on: Did you find that President Biden directed someone to move boxes of documents, hide them from the FBI, delete security camera footage; that he showed a classified map about on ongoing military operation to an aide, engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct justice, engaged in a scheme to conceal..." All no's from Hur. Each of those activities, Lieu noted, "describe what Donald Trump did in his willful mishandling of classified information and his criminal efforts to deceive the FBI," which is why Biden hasn't been indicted and Trump has been "in not just 1, or 2, or 3, but four criminal cases." As Hur sits silent.


Adam Schiff tangled more directly with Hur, charging him with deliberately, gratutiously taking a "deeply prejudicial" approach to the report that "you had to know would have a maximal political impact," even while declining to prosecute. Schiff blasted his old geezer language, rather than "the president did not recall" when "there is nothing more common with a witness of any age when asked about events that are years old." "You understood that you made a choice," Schiff charged. "That was a political choice. It was the wrong choice." Finally, Jamie Raskin furiously, elegantly dismissed "the spectacle (of) our diagnoses" of Biden's memory despite his soaring SOTU speech and "devastating extemporaneous reparte with even the most skilled ninja hecklers of the Freedom Caucus." All of it, he argued, is "a desperate quest" to distract from Trump's 91 criminal charges, staggering civil court losses and "full-blown embrace (of) authoritarian dictators." "My friends, this is a memory test," he said gravely. "But it's not a memory test for President Biden. It's a memory test for all of America."

This content originally appeared on Common Dreams and was authored by Abby Zimet.

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