Joe Biden forgot when his son Beau died and when he was vice president, investigators say in missing files report

8 February 2024, 21:29 | Updated: 9 February 2024, 00:55

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

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

US President Joe Biden "wilfully" retained and disclosed highly classified materials when he was a private citizen, according to a Justice Department report.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

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 he 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.

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

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.

Read More: 'I’m concerned about him': Joe Biden shares worry for King Charles amid cancer diagnosis and promises to reach out

Read More: Tiger King Joe Exotic calls on Kardashians to get him out of 'hell hole' prison and ask Joe Biden to grant him pardon

Mr Biden then opened his opens 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 Mr Biden 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. Classified documents from his time in the Senate in the 1970s and 1980s were 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. Trump has said he did nothing wrong.