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Opinion: Will that special counsel report light a fire under Biden the Elderly?

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Opinion: Will that special counsel report light a fire under Biden the Elderly?

Sure, special counsel Robert Hur absolved President Biden of any criminality in retaining classified documents after his vice presidency. But was the Republican lawyer nonetheless angling for a federal judgeship from a future Republican president — say, from a reelected and grateful Donald Trump — with the investigatory report he released Thursday?

Hur, a Trump appointee and a Federalist Society member, would hardly seem to be “auditioning” for a judicial nomination by finding that “no criminal charges are warranted” against Biden, and that there’s no parallel with Trump’s alleged crimes involving classified information. Except for this: Hur’s exoneration of Biden has been all but lost in the attention to his grossly gratuitous words about the president’s age and his “diminished faculties” during Biden’s five hours of testimony to investigators.

Opinion Columnist

Jackie Calmes

Jackie Calmes brings a critical eye to the national political scene. She has decades of experience covering the White House and Congress.

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Hur is too smart and politically savvy not to have foreseen the headlines: “Elderly man with a poor memory,” blared the front page of the Murdochs’ New York Post, quoting the special counsel’s report.

The report was a gift to Trump and his fellow Republicans, going right to Biden’s biggest weakness among voters: their doubts about the octogenarian’s ability to keep doing the job. Hur conceded on the report’s first page that after a year of investigation, investigators lacked evidence to make a case against the president for willfully retaining and sharing classified information. That should have been the end of it.

Instead, Hur additionally justified not bringing charges because “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.”

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By adding that politically charged commentary, Hur violated Justice Department “just the facts” protocols, as he also should have known given the Comey precedent: In 2018, the department’s inspector general slammed then-FBI Director James B. Comey for criticizing Hillary Clinton, when she was running for president against Trump, as “extremely careless” in handling classified material, even as Comey announced “no reasonable prosecutor” would seek charges against her.

How ironic: Trump is boosted again by the very Justice Department that he and Republicans otherwise allege is weaponizing the government against him.

Trump immediately put out a fundraising email embracing the report as proof Biden is even “unfit to stand trial.” (As opposed to himself, fighting four indictments and 91 felony charges?) Echoing Trump as usual, House Republican leaders in a joint statement called Biden “unfit for the Oval Office.” (That was rich, after their own very bad week of governing incompetence showed once again that these “legislators” are unfit for Congress.)

Republicans would be crazy not to exploit Hur’s words for political gain. We’ll be seeing and hearing them in Trump’s political ads and speeches from now to November.

But Biden in those same months can push back. The damage is done, Democrats. Get over it, and get on with it.

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Surrogates can help, attesting to the president’s fitness in their private dealings with him. (Last fall, Politico reported that since-deposed Speaker Kevin McCarthy privately told Republican allies that Biden was “sharp and substantive” in their conversations, even as McCarthy mocked the president publicly as doddering.)

But Biden’s recovery ultimately requires show and tell. Only he can show skeptical voters he remains on top of things. The president can’t get any younger, but he can do much more to face the public and let Americans judge for themselves.

To that end, Biden was right to speak on camera in prime time Thursday, as word of Hur’s report was spreading, and to forcefully counter it. Yes, it was jarring that he misidentified the president of Egypt as being president of Mexico, but Trump recently called the leader of Hungary the head of Turkey and mixed up Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi seven times in a false diatribe about Jan. 6.

Biden was wrong to have declined for a second year the somewhat traditional invitation, this year from CBS, to be interviewed during the Super Bowl pregame show. “We hope viewers enjoy watching what they tuned in for — the game,” White House spokesperson Ben LaBolt told Variety. OK, lots of viewers dash to the refrigerator when the president comes on screen. But that still leaves a big and diverse audience of tens of millions of people to see Biden with his wits about him.

To be fair, Biden is crisscrossing the country to meet with voters and showcase the projects made possible by laws he’s signed. But he’s had fewer news conferences than any president in the past century except for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

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Too often it seems Biden is in a staff-spun cocoon, which allows critics and supporters to infer he’s being protected from making public gaffes. But what’s worse, Biden’s gaffes or Trump’s nonstop lies?

Only Biden can demonstrate the mastery of foreign and domestic affairs that he has, thanks to his decades in public service. And show it he must.

That’s how he can get reelected. And if he does, that will mean four more years in which there’s no Republican president to nominate Robert Hur to be a federal judge.

@jackiekcalmes

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NFL team owner appears on stage with Trump during South Carolina victory speech

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NFL team owner appears on stage with Trump during South Carolina victory speech

New York Jets owner and billionaire businessman Woody Johnson stood in support behind former President Trump in South Carolina on Saturday night after Trump was quickly projected the winner of the state’s primary.

Johnson, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom during the Trump administration, was on stage alongside his wife Suzanne behind Trump as the former president delivered a speech after his quick victory in the Palmetto State primary on Saturday.

Johnson, a member of the founding family of Johnson & Johnson, has previously expressed support for the former president during the 2024 campaign. 

“Americans remember how good it was or how much better it was on the border, and inflation, and gas prices, and grocery prices, all that, during the Trump administration, and they want to get back there,” Johnson told News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo earlier this month. 

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Former US Presidential hopeful and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump (C) gestures at an “Election Night Watch Party” in Columbia, South Carolina ( TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

“So I think the most important thing is getting the former president back in the White House, which looks like it’s happening.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Johnson’s representatives but did not immediately receive a response.

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Trump Woody Johnson

Trump delivers victory speech in South Carolina (Fox News)

Trump’s rapidly-called victory on Saturday over former U.N. ambassador and former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in her home state moves the former president another step closer to clinching the 2024 GOP nomination. 

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“It’s an early evening and a fantastic evening,” Trump told a crowd of supporters gathered at the South Carolina state fairgrounds in Columbia, the state capitol, just minutes after polls closed and he was declared the victor.

Jets' owner Woody Johnson

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson looks on before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on October 2, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

“Celebrate for 15 minutes, but then we have to get back to work,” he added, referencing next week’s Michigan primary, and Super Tuesday the following week.

Fox News Digital’s Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

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Authorities name mother's boyfriend as person of interest in slaying of 3-year-old boy

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Authorities name mother's boyfriend as person of interest in slaying of 3-year-old boy

Authorities have released the identity of a 3-year-old boy who was killed in his Lancaster home on Tuesday night and described his mother’s boyfriend as a person of interest in the brutal slaying.

The toddler, David Hernandez, was found with his throat cut in the 43400 block of 57th Street W when deputies arrived around 10:55 p.m., officials said. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner reported his manner of death as homicide and cause as “an incised wound of the neck.”

The Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that Rena Naulls, 39, of Lancaster, was transported to the hospital after allegedly attempting to take his own life at the scene.

Investigators said Naulls is the live-in boyfriend of the victim’s mother and named him “a person of interest” in the case. Naulls was admitted to the hospital and listed in stable condition, police said.

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The Times previously reported that a source with knowledge of the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly said a family friend went to the house at the behest of one of the boy’s relatives, found the child with his throat slit in a bathtub and called 911.

Three of the child’s older siblings, ages 9, 11 and 14, were unharmed and taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services, according to the source and the Sheriff’s Department. The Times reported that the family had no prior contacts with the Department of Children and Family Services.

No arrests have been made.

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Melania 'going to be out a lot' on campaign trail, Trump says

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Melania 'going to be out a lot' on campaign trail, Trump says

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Former President Donald Trump claims that his wife Melania is expected to make more regular public appearances on the campaign trail.

Trump made the remarks during his interview at a Fox News townhall earlier this week with host Laura Ingraham. 

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“It’s funny, she was a very successful model, very, very successful, and yet she was a private person. She’s going to be out a lot. Not because she likes doing it, but she likes the results,” he said Tuesday. “She wants to see this country really succeed. She loves the country.”

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Former President Donald Trump sits for a town hall hosted by Laura Ingraham on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” in Greenville, South Carolina (Paul Steinhauser – Fox News )

“You know, a lot of first ladies would go out — they want to be everywhere. They get angry at their husband because he’s not introducing them,” Trump continued. “If I didn’t introduce Melania, she’d be very happy about it. She’s just a different kind of a person.”

Melania has been largely absent from her husband’s 2024 presidential bid thus far, making few public appearances and staying out of the media.

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Donald Melania Trump

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and former first lady Melania Trump arrive for a New Years event at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Her absence, until recently, has been explained by the passing of her mother, Amalija Knavs, earlier this year. But as the campaign season becomes more intense, political commentators have questioned whether she will step back into efforts supporting Trump.

Trump also expressed appreciation that Melania has been dedicated to raising their son, Barron Trump.

“Her life revolves around that boy. It’s so important to her,” Trump said. “At the same time, it also revolves around our country and the success of our country. She’s raised a lot of money for charity. She’s a private person.”

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Former President Donald Trump attends the funeral of mother-in-law Amalija Knavs alongside his wife Melania, son Barron, and father-in-law Viktor Knav

Former President Donald Trump attends the funeral of mother-in-law Amalija Knavs alongside his wife Melania, son Barron, and father-in-law Viktor Knavs at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. (Alon Skuy for Fox News Digital)

“And she loves the country,” Trump added. “She’s going to be out a lot, but she does it for the good of the country, not for her. She’s somebody with a lot of confidence. She doesn’t need that.”

Trump’s Fox News town hall came four days before South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, which commences Saturday. 

The latest public opinion polls indicate that he maintains a very large double-digit lead over former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, his last major rival for the GOP nomination.

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