Emil Guillermo: Robert Hur, model minority special prosecutor or waste of time?

Image for Emil Guillermo: Robert Hur, model minority special prosecutor or waste of time?

Oh, how we hate the term “model minority,” which presupposes a good model for people of color and Asian Americans in particular to follow in life and career.

But judging by his performance the other day at a congressional hearing, Robert Hur, the former special prosecutor in the Biden documents case, has put his unique stamp on the positive/negative stereotype that hounds us.

How can you not be the new face of the “political” model minority when you’ve managed to confound both Democrats and Republicans?

Hur, a Trump pick in the Justice Department, was appointed to his special prosecutor role by Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland.Hur was unflustered this week as he stood his ground defending his report, while keeping his options open for a federal judicial appointment in a potential second Trump administration.

It was Hur’s report that was the initial “model minority” aspect in this ordeal.

The executive summary’s first graph said it all:

“We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter. We would reach the same conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.”

Nothing more was needed in the case about Biden’s handling of government documents.

But Hur went above and beyond in his report that was nearly 400 pages long. Extra credit? Legally, the obligation was met once Hur concluded no criminal charges were warranted. Yet, Hur added the unnecessary speculation of the case going before a jury (even though Hur decided it wouldn’t have).

And that’s when Hur’s report put forth the image of an “elderly” Biden as an aging senior citizen and sympathetic witness.

All that opining on Biden’s memory gave Republicans the excuse to go full on ageist against Biden and zero in on his fitness to be president for a second term. It was the primary reason for this week’s hearing, to get damning testimony on video about Biden’s age for GOP anti-Biden ads.

Hur’s words in the report said it all.

Republicans were gleeful, ready to expose Biden based on their perception that Hur would reveal just how doddering Biden was during the investigation. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI) even read the definition of senile and asked Hur point blank if Biden were senile.

Hur said no.

It was not the answer Republicans were expecting.

Another document revealed at the hearing actually had Hur assessing that Biden had a “photographic” memory.

The Republican “Biden’s too old” argument was crumbling before everyone’s eyes.

In fact, Democrats used the hearing to show the differences between how Biden acted in his documents case (no criminality) versus how Trump acted in his document mishandling case (much criminality alleged).

And of course, if turnabout is fair play, Democrats showed video examples of how Trump’s age and bumbling were worth questioning the fitness of an aging narcissist.

But the Democrats went after Hur for his motives too.“You understood that you would ignite a political firestorm,” Schiff said about the report’s passages about Biden’s age and memory.

Hur stayed calm and stuck to his guns. “Politics played no role,” Hur insisted, saying he was following the rules to prepare a confidential, thorough, and comprehensive report.

Schiff wasn’t letting up.

“What is in the rules is, you don’t gratuitously do things to prejudice the subject of an investigation when you’re declining to prosecute,” Schiff said. “You don’t gratuitously add language you know will be useful in a political campaign. You were not born yesterday. You understood exactly what you were doing. It was a choice. You certainly didn’t have to include that language. You made a choice. A political choice. It was the wrong choice.”

Look what happened this week. If Hur didn’t know better, he should have. And he should have omitted the extraneous comments.

And if Hur did know, he got his close up that breaks him out of the Asian American pack. Everyone knows Hur now. He adds to his Asian American story: a good Korean 1.5, who grew up in New York City and went to Harvard Law. That’s admirable.

But what did he really do but create a needless and chaotic sideshow for a case that he knew had no prosecutorial merit. Nothing.

A total waste of time? Well, as I said, we did get to know Hur like we got to know Ken Starr and Bob Mueller, the special prosecutors of scandals past. Has there ever been an AAPI special prosecutor?

And now if you’re an Asian American lawyer, people might look at you and think of, Hur. He’s his own model minority, the Asian American in the middle, the guy who stuck it to both Democrats and Republicans. And wasted everyone's time.

# # #

NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on