Robert Hur, the newly appointed special counsel investigating classified documents found at President Joe Biden's home and former office, has seen – and prosecuted – it all as a former Justice Department official who headed the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2018 to 2021.
Before then-President Donald Trump appointed him to that position, Hur worked in the DOJ trenches as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2007 to 2014, prosecuting gang members, firearms offenders, narcotics traffickers and white-collar criminals accused of financial fraud, public corruption tax offenses and computer network intrusions.
As Maryland’s top attorney, Hur – who was called out of government retirement on Thursday by Attorney General Merrick Garland – supervised one of the largest and busiest U.S. Attorney’s offices in the nation and set the strategic priorities for it.
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In that role, he oversaw the successful prosecutions of white supremacists, COVID-19 fund fraudsters, Asian hate crime perpetrators and drug cartel kingpins. His office also worked on the long-running investigation and prosecution of former National Security Agency contractor Harold Martin, who was accused by authorities of taking a “breathtaking” amount of classified material and storing it in his Glen Burnie, Maryland, home.
“This appointment underscores for the public the department's commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law," Garland said Thursday in announcing Hur’s appointment.
"I am confident that Mr. Hur will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner,” Garland said, “and in accordance with the highest traditions of this Department.”
For his work as U.S. attorney, Hur received the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award for superior performance and excellence as a lawyer.
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When Hur left office as the top Maryland prosecutor in February 2021, Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Maryland Democrats, praised him for upholding “the finest traditions of the office and the U.S. Department of Justice.”
The two senators cited Hur’s work to establish the Baltimore Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which created a permanent federal, state, and local law enforcement partnership to combat violent crime in Baltimore.
In March 2021, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tapped Hur – who is Asian American – to lead a state work group on anti-Asian American violence. The panel was tasked with meeting with affected groups, analyzing crime against Asian Americans and making recommendations to improve policing efforts and prosecution of related hate crimes.
Rod Rosenstein, a former deputy attorney general in the Trump administration, brought Hur to serve as his top assistant and help supervise the work of then-special counsel Robert Mueller, who led the contentious investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The inquiry shadowed much of Donald Trump’s presidency and would later catalog the then-president’s attempts to obstruct the investigation, though he was not charged.
“He understands that there are some jobs that are unpleasant but need to be done and done right,” Rosenstein said.
Rosenstein represents a link to much of Hur’s time at Justice: he hired him as a line prosecutor in Maryland in 2007, brought him to Washington in 2017 and later recommended him for the job as Maryland’s chief prosecutor, the same job Rosenstein held before his work as deputy attorney general.
“He is extremely bright and an accomplished lawyer, a reflection of his academic background,” Rosenstein said. “He also brought a non-partisan approach to the job.”
Rosenstein said Hur also arrived with a keen sense of humor.
At Rosenstein’s going away party at the Justice Department, Hur took advantage of his time at the microphone where Rosenstein said he “mocked” his former boss’ repeated speech references to former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. He also seized on Rosenstein’s default expression: “Excellent!”
“He got a lot of laughs on that, as I recall,” Rosenstein said.
Before his Senate confirmation as U.S. attorney, Hur served as the principal associate deputy attorney general at Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. from 2017 to 2018. In the position, Hur was a member of the Department's senior leadership team and the principal counselor to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, assisting him with oversight of all components of the department, according to DOJ.
Hur received his law degree from Stanford University where he served as executive editor of the Stanford Law Review. Following law school, he served a law clerk for then-Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Robert Hur: Who is special counsel appointed to probe Biden documents?