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US President Joe Biden “wilfully retained and disclosed classified materials”, a special counsel has found, but he will not face charges.
The investigation began more than a year ago after several secret documents were found at Mr Biden’s home and former private office.
The files were immediately returned to US officials when discovered.
“We conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” the report reads.
“Prosecution of Mr Biden is also unwarranted based on our consideration of the aggravating and mitigating factors,” says justice department Special Counsel Robert Hur.
Mr Hur’s 345-page report was released publicly on Thursday after the White House said it would not request any redactions.
Investigators conducted 173 interviews with 147 witnesses, including President Biden himself.
He answered questions in the Hur inquiry over the course of two days in October.
Mr Hur’s report says that it would be difficult to convict Mr Biden of improper handling because “at trial, Mr Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”.
Mr Hur’s report revealed for the first time that the documents were classified as Top Secret – the highest level of secrecy, and were regarding military and foreign policy in Afghanistan.
The documents recovered also included notebooks containing Mr Biden’s entries about national security and foreign policy matters “implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods”.
The report went on say that Mr Biden’s actions “present[ed] serious risks to national security, given the vulnerability of extraordinarily sensitive information to loss or compromise to America’s adversaries”.
“But addressing those risks when pursuing criminal charges, the only means available to this office, is not the proper remedy here.”
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