Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a veteran federal prosecutor to investigate whether any laws were broken when President Joe Biden held on to classified documents from his eight years as vice president.
Robert K. Hur, the new special counsel, isn’t as widely known as past special prosecutors appointed to investigate presidents, among them former FBI Director Robert Mueller or former Solicitor General Ken Starr, appointed to investigate allegations against Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, respectively.
“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment ,” Hur said in a public statement. “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.”
Hur is likely to have a higher profile in the coming weeks and months. Here are five things to know about him.
1. Clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist
Hur began his legal career as a Supreme Court clerk for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who first was appointed to the high court by President Richard Nixon and named chief justice by President Ronald Reagan. Both presidents were Republicans.
Hur also clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Reagan appointed Kozinski to the 9th Circuit.
2. Replaced Rod Rosenstein
On Nov. 2, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Hur to be U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland.
Interestingly, Trump named Hur to replace U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein, whom the president had appointed as deputy attorney general. It was Rosenstein who later appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate Trump over allegations of “collusion” with the Russian government.
The Senate unanimously confirmed Hur to the U.S. attorney post in March 2018 after Maryland’s two Democrat senators endorsed his nomination by Trump.
“Marylanders have been anxiously awaiting confirmation of our next U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland. I am pleased that the Senate has unanimously confirmed Robert Hur for this lynchpin law enforcement position, as we need our U.S. attorney on the job now, working as a strong partner with state and local officials to keep our communities safe and secure,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland’s senior U.S. senator. “I look forward to working with Mr. Hur and am confident that he will focus on protecting Marylanders across our state by reducing violent crime, breaking up gangs, fighting the drug epidemic, enforcing civil rights, and rooting out corruption.”
The state’s junior senator, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, concurred with Cardin.
“Robert Hur’s confirmation is critical to our state and I thank my colleagues for unanimously approving his nomination to be Maryland’s next U.S. attorney,” Van Hollen said. “Working together with local, state, and federal partners, I’m confident we can move forward on the pressing issues facing our state—from improving public safety, to fighting the opioid epidemic, to protecting the rights of all Marylanders. I look forward to working with him.”
In the position of U.S. attorney, Hur was Maryland’s chief federal prosecutor and supervised 88 assistant U.S. attorneys and 72 support personnel. Those prosecutors handle cases that include domestic and international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, organized crime, gang violence, public corruption, cybercrime, financial and health care fraud, and civil rights violations. He remained in the job until 2021, when Biden became president.
3. Prosecuted Public Corruption
As U.S. attorney, Hur’s office prosecuted several key public corruption cases in Maryland, where he gained high-profile guilty pleas from public officials.
Hur’s office prosecuted former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat, who was convicted of wire fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and two counts of tax evasion.
“Baltimore City faces many pressing issues, and we need our leaders to place the interests of the citizens above their own,” Hur said at the time of Pugh’s conviction, adding:
Catherine Pugh betrayed the public trust for her personal gain and now faces three years in federal prison, where there is no parole—ever. Law enforcement will remain vigilant to ensure that our citizens receive the honesty and professionalism they deserve from government officials and will prosecute officials who betray the public’s trust.
Hur’s office also oversaw the bribery prosecution and conviction of Maryland state Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Democrat, related to medical marijuana, opioid therapy clinics, and liquor licenses. Glenn solicited and accepted $33,000 in bribes, the Justice Department said.
“Cheryl Glenn solicited and accepted more than $33,000 in bribes in exchange for official actions instead of doing her duty and putting the interests of the public above her own,” Hur said after the July 2020 conviction. The U.S. attorney added:
We expect our elected officials to serve the public, not to use their positions of authority to line their own pockets. As this case demonstrates, we will work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who betray the public trust. Cheryl Glenn will now pay the price for her greed by serving time in federal prison.
Hur’s office secured a conviction of former Maryland state Del. Tawanna Gaines, a Democrat, in October 2019 on charges that she illegally used campaign funds for personal profit.
Hur oversaw a case leading to the July 2018 conviction of former Maryland state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks, a Democrat, on wire fraud charges.
“Our democratic system relies on the integrity of our elected officials,” Hur said at the time. “Today’s sentence and our prosecution of former Maryland Sen. Nathaniel Oaks demonstrate that we will hold accountable those elected officials who use their offices to enrich themselves, rather than serve the interests of their constituents.”
Hur also oversaw cases against members of the Baltimore City Police Department in connection with a Gun Trace Task Force investigation and against corrections officers at numerous state prisons, including Eastern Correctional Institution, Jessup Correctional Institution, and Chesapeake Detention Facility.
4. Early Justice Department Career
During President George W. Bush’s administration, Hur went to work in a career position at the Justice Department as special assistant and later counsel to Christopher Wray, then the assistant attorney general in charge of the Criminal Division and now director of the FBI. There, Hur handled counterterrorism, corporate fraud, and appellate matters.
In 2007, Hur became an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland, a position he held until 2014, over four years into the Obama administration.
As a career federal prosecutor in Maryland, Hur prosecuted gang violence, firearms offenses, and narcotics trafficking as well as white-collar offenses such as financial institutions fraud, public corruption, mortgage fraud, tax offenses, computer network intrusions, and intellectual property theft, according to the Justice Department.
5. After the Justice Department
After leaving the Justice Department in early 2021, Hur became a member of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents.
Hur went to work full time as a partner in the Washington office of the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which has offices across the United States. He is co-chairman of the firm’s crisis management practice group.
At the law firm, Hur has been involved in white-collar criminal matters, regulatory proceedings and enforcement actions, internal investigations, and related civil litigation. He is a member of the firm’s white-collar defense and investigations practice group and its national security practice group.
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