President Biden insists his ‘memory is fine’ after critical report

9 February 2024, 06:34

Biden Classified Documents
Biden Classified Documents. Picture: PA

Joe Biden responded on Thursday night from the White House, where he grew visibly angry in denying that he had forgotten when his son died.

US President Joe Biden has insisted he did not share classified information and angrily denied claims in a special counsel’s report that his memory was poor.

The report from Robert Hur, which was released on Thursday, gives a harshly critical assessment of Mr Biden’s handling of sensitive government materials, but also details the reasons why he should not be charged with the crime.

It described the 81-year-old Democrat’s memory as “hazy,” “fuzzy,” “faulty,” “poor” and having “significant limitations”, saying he could not recall defining milestones in his own life.

“My memory is fine,” Mr Biden responded on Thursday night from the White House, where he grew visibly angry in denying that he had forgotten when his son died. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.

“How in the hell dare he raise that?” he said. “Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, it wasn’t any of their damn business.”

“Every Memorial Day we hold a service remember him, attended by friends and family and people loved him. I don’t need anyone, I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away.”

Describing the report’s descriptions of his memory as “extraneous commentary”, Mr Biden said he is “the most qualified person in this country to be president”.

Even as Mr Biden defended himself, he committed another gaffe while discussing the Israel-Hamas War and mistakenly referred to Egypt’s leader Abdel Fattah El-Sissi as “the president of Mexico”.

A letter from the president’s lawyers, written on February 5 and published in the report, said its treatment of Mr Biden’s memory was neither “accurate or appropriate” and had no place in a Department of Justice report.

“The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a commonplace occurrence among witnesses: a lack of recall of years-old events.”

Biden Classified Documents
This image, contained in the report from special counsel Robert Hur, shows the first-floor home office of President Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware during a search by FBI agents (Justice Department/AP)

The report from special counsel Robert Hur, which was released on Thursday, represents a harshly critical assessment of Mr Biden’s handling of sensitive government materials, but also details the reasons why he should not be charged with the crime.

The report found evidence Mr Biden willfully retained and shared highly classified information when he was a private citizen, including about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, but concluded that criminal charges were not warranted.

“I did not share classified information,” Mr Biden insisted. “I did not share it with my ghostwriter.”

He said he was not aware how the boxes containing classified documents ended up in his garage.

Mr Biden pointedly noted that he had sat for five hours of interviews in the immediate aftermath of Hamas’s October attack on Israel, when “I was in the middle of handling an international crisis.”

“I just believed that’s what I owed the American people so they could know no charges would be brought and the matter closed,” he said.

Biden Classified Documents
President Joe Biden speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House (Evan Vucci/AP)

The findings will likely blunt his ability to forcefully condemn Donald Trump, his likely opponent in November’s presidential election, over a criminal indictment charging the former president 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.

Mr Biden could not have been prosecuted as a sitting president, but Mr Hur’s report states that he would not recommend charges against Mr Biden regardless.

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

According to the report, evidence suggests that many of the classified documents recovered by investigators at the Penn Biden Centre, in parts of Mr Biden’s Delaware home and in his Senate papers at the University of Delaware were retained by “mistake”.

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

Mr Smith’s team has charged Mr 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.

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

The National Archives notified the FBI, which opened an investigation. Mr Biden made his homes available to agents to conduct thorough searches, and that is how the most sensitive documents came to the attention of the Justice Department.

By Press Association

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