WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Robert Hur, who was named special counsel to investigate whether President Joe Biden had improperly handled sensitive government documents, is a former high-ranking Justice Department official with experience in sensitive leak investigations.
Tapped for the role by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday, Hur was the U.S. attorney in Maryland during the Trump administration and most recently served as a litigation partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Garland said Hur would act as a quasi-independent prosecutor to determine whether classified records from Biden’s time as vice president had been improperly stored at the Democrat’s residence in Delaware and at a think tank in Washington.
Hur would examine “whether any person or entity violated the law,” Garland said.
Hur was appointed by Trump in 2018 as the chief federal law enforcement officer in Maryland and left that position with the end of the Republican’s presidency in early 2021.
Under Hur, the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office prosecuted the case of former National Security Agency contractor Harold Martin, who stole huge amounts of classified material from U.S. intelligence agencies. At the time, officials called it the biggest breach of U.S. classified information on record.
In 2019, Martin was sentenced to nine years in prison.
A graduate of Stanford Law School and Harvard College, Hur served as top aide to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein before his appointment as the U.S. attorney in Maryland. He also clerked for late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
“Rob has been around long enough. He knows what he is getting into,” Rosenstein told CNN on Thursday after Hur’s appointment as special counsel.
Hur received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for “superior performance and excellence as a lawyer” during his tenure as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Maryland from 2007 to 2014. He was also an aide to Christopher Wray at the Justice Department before Wray’s appointment to lead the FBI.
“I will conduct the assigned investigation with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment,” Hur said in a statement released after his appointment as special counsel. He added that he intended “to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor.”
The White House pledged to cooperate with the special counsel’s probe.