A special counsel recommended on Thursday that Biden should not be prosecuted for his purported mishandling of classified material because he would likely present himself on trial as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
The president attempted to dispute the allegations of his memory loss later that night in a press conference that was plagued with gaffes and outbursts against reporters.
Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned Special Counsel Robert Hur to investigate Biden’s handling of classified material. Hur’s report, which was published Thursday, stated that after his last term as vice president, Biden told the ghostwriter of his memoir in 2017 that he “just found all the classified stuff downstairs,” which included 200 documents on Afghanistan. These documents were marked as classified material with designations like “CONFIDENTIAL REL NATO/ISAF,” “TOP SECRET/SCI,” and “TOP SECRET.”
Hurr justified his recommendation not to prosecute the president by claiming he had a poor memory. At times, Biden allegedly could not remember when he was vice president or when his son Beau died, according to the report.
“In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden’s memory was worse,” the report stated. “He did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended (‘if it was 2013 — when did I stop being Vice President?’), and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began (‘in 2009, am I still Vice President?’).”
During the press conference that Biden held to dispute the report, he mistakenly referred to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as “the president of Mexico.” He later forgot the name of the church where he received a rosary he said he wore every day since his son died.
Biden then got into a spat with reporters who pressed him about his memory.
”I’m well-meaning, and I’m an elderly man, and I know what the hell I’m doing,” Biden said to Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy. “I’ve been president, and I put this country back on its feet. I don’t need his recommendation.”
“How bad is your memory? And can you continue as president?” Doocy asked.
“My memory is so bad I let you speak,” Biden responded.
CNN correspondent MJ Lee asked the president about polling data that shows voters are concerned about his old age.
“That is your judgment!” Biden shouted. “That is your judgment! That is not the judgment of the press.”
“They’ve expressed concerns about your mental acuity,” Lee responded. “They say that you’re too old. Mr. President, you told me in December that you believe there are many Democrats who could defeat Donald Trump. So why does it have to be you now?”
“Because I’m the most qualified person in this country to be President of the United States and finish the job I started,” Biden asserted.
Biden’s legal team attempted to discredit the details about the president’s memory from the special counsel report, claiming they had “no place in a Department of Justice (DOJ) report.”
“We do not believe that the report’s treatment of President Biden’s memory is accurate or appropriate,” his lawyers wrote. “The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a commonplace occurrence among witnesses: a lack of recall of years-old events.”
The lawyers cited the ongoing conflict in Israel as a reason for Biden’s lapses in memory during his interviews with the DOJ.
“In fact, there is ample evidence from your interview that the President did well in answering your questions about years-old events over the course of five hours,” they wrote. “This is especially true under the circumstances, which you do not mention in your report that his interview began the day after the October 7 attacks on Israel.”
Biden emphasized this point during the press conference.
“I sought no delays. In fact, I was so determined to get the special counsel what they needed I went forward with a five-hour in-person interview over the two days of October — the ninth, eighth, and ninth last year — even though Israel had just been attacked by Hamas on the seventh. I was in the middle of handling an international crisis,” Biden said.
Republicans responded to the special counsel report and subsequent press conference with claims that Biden was not fit for office.
“Today’s report from Robert Hur tells us two things: There’s a double standard of justice in this country. And Joe Biden isn’t fit for office,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said, per Fox News.
“Special Counsel Hur said Biden is a ‘well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.’ His present mental and physical condition should preclude him from being the President of the United States,” Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) argued.