Biden Reacts to Investigation: Disputes Claims of Age and Memory Issues
Thursday's decision not to press criminal charges against President Biden for mishandling classified documents should have been a clear legal vindication.
Instead, it turned into a political disaster. The investigation into Biden's handling of the documents post-vice presidency concluded that he was an "elderly man with good intentions but a poor memory," and that his mental faculties had declined with age.
#UPDATE US President Joe Biden launched an emotional response Thursday to a special counsel report questioning his memory, asking how the prosecutor dared say he could not recall the date of his son's death.
"There's even reference that I don't remember when my son died. How in… pic.twitter.com/xYKM1tiBWj
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) February 9, 2024
These shocking claims prompted a swift and emotional attempt at damage control from the president himself.
Addressing the nation from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room that evening, Biden vehemently criticized the report by Robert K. Hur, the special counsel, accusing its authors of making irrelevant comments about his age and mental acuity.
"They have no idea what they're talking about," Biden stated firmly. He particularly took issue with the report's claim that he couldn't recall the year his son Beau passed away during interviews with F.B.I. investigators.
President’s Emotional Response Fuels Political Fallout
"How dare he bring that up," the president exclaimed, his voice choked with emotion."Every Memorial Day, we pay tribute to him with a gathering attended by close friends, family, and those who cherished him. I don't require anyone to prompt my memory of his passing."
Despite the absence of criminal charges, the president's emotional response to reporters highlighted the potential political fallout from Mr. Hur's report.
The report's focus on the president's memory and age reiterated throughout its 345 pages, was swiftly seized upon by Republicans, including former President Donald J. Trump, who is likely to be Biden's opponent in the 2024 election.
In the report, Mr. Hur noted that the 80-year-old president's memory was so unclear during five hours of interviews over two days that it would be challenging to persuade jurors that Biden knew mishandling the documents was wrong.
Mr. Hur suggested in the report that if charges were brought against the president, his lawyers would emphasize these memory limitations.
Due in part to Biden's memory issues, Mr. Hur opted not to recommend charging the president for what the report described as intentionally keeping national security secrets, including documents that disclosed sensitive intelligence sources and methods.
"It would be hard to convince a jury to convict him – as a former president well into his 80s – of a serious felony that requires a willful mental state," Mr. Hur wrote.
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