Joe Biden insists 'my memory is fine' then mixes up Egypt and Mexico after report says he forgot when son died

9 February 2024, 05:29

LBC's Simon Marks details Joe Biden's memory struggles

By Will Taylor

Joe Biden has insisted his memory is fine moments before he mixed up Egypt and Mexico.

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The US president made a speech after a report into his handling of classified material was made public.

He "wilfully" retained and disclosed highly classified materials when he was a private citizen, according to the Justice Department report.

But it cited "significant limitations" with his memory, including his struggles to recall when his son Beau died, which would contribute to a decision against charging him.

"I know what the hell I'm doing! My memory has not gotten worse. My memory is fine. Take a look at what I have done since becoming president," Mr Biden told a press conference after the report was released.

"No one thought I could pass any of the things I got passed. How did that happen? I guess I just forgot what was going on...

"There's even reference that I don't remember when my son died. How in the hell dare he raise that?

"I don't need anyone to remind me of when he passed away. Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, wasn't any of their damned business."

US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden. Picture: Getty

But as he moved on to discussing Gaza, he described Egypt's leader Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the Mexican president.

"I think as you know initially, the president of Mexico, El-Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to humanitarian material to get in. I talked to him. I convinced him to open the gate," he said.

Mr Biden retained documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan and other sensitive national security matters.

The report from special counsel Robert Hur, which was released on Thursday, represents a critical assessment of Mr Biden's handling of sensitive government materials.

But crucially, it details the reasons why he should not be charged with the crime.

The report said Mr Biden's memory has "significant limitations". He could not even remember the years when he was vice president, nor when his son died, the report says.

Had charges been brought against Mr Biden, the investigators said they expect that his attorneys would have emphasised his limitations of memory in his defence.

It makes it more complicated for Mr Biden to criticise the former US president and his likely general election opponent this year, Donald Trump, who has been charged with illegally hoarding classified records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

"Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden wilfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen," Mr Hur wrote in his damning report.

It follows a year-long investigation into the improper retention of classified documents by Mr Biden, from his time as a senator and as vice president.

The documents, which included secret files on Afghanistan, were found at his home in Delaware, as well as at a private office that he used in between his service in the Obama administration and becoming president.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden. Picture: Getty

After Mr Biden's lawyers uncovered classified documents at his former office, his representatives contacted the National Archives to arrange their return to the government.

The National Archives notified the FBI, which opened an investigation.

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Mr Biden then opened his home to agents, who conducted thorough searches, and found he had left some sensitive documents in the garage.

Mr Biden could not have been prosecuted as a sitting president, but Hur's report states that he would not recommend charges against him regardless, partly due to his 'poor memory'.

"We would reach the same conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president," the report said.

Donald Trump labelled Joe Biden senile
Donald Trump labelled Joe Biden senile. Picture: Getty

Photographs included in the report showed some of the classified Afghanistan documents stored in a worn cardboard box stored in his garage, apparently in a loose collection with other household items, including a ladder and a wicker basket.

Classified documents from the Obama administration were also found in Mr Biden's basement den, according to the report. Material from his time in the Senate in the 1970s and 1980s was also found in his garage.

Despite signs that Mr Biden knowingly retained and disclosed classified materials, Mr Hur's report said criminal charges were not merited for multiple reasons.

These include the fact that as vice president, and during his subsequent presidency when the Afghanistan records were found, "he had the authority to keep classified documents at his home".

It is one of three recent Justice Department investigations into the handling of classified documents by politically prominent figures.

The investigation into Mr Biden is separate from special counsel Jack Smith's inquiry into the handling of classified documents by Trump after Trump left the White House.

Smith's team has charged Trump with illegally retaining top secret records at his Mar-a-Lago home and then obstructing government efforts to get them back. Mr Trump has said he did nothing wrong.