Biden comes out fighting over claims about his memory at surprise press conference

The Special Counsel said president will not be charged with any crimes but drew attention to what he called Mr Biden’s ‘significantly limited’ memory

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Friday 09 February 2024 02:10 GMT
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Biden delivers last-minute statement after release of special counsel report

An angry and animated President Joe Biden on Thursday hit back at a Republican prosecutor’s claim that his memory is faulty in last-minute remarks to reporters on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, the Department of Justice released a report by Special Counsel Robert Hur, the former Maryland US Attorney who Attorney General Merrick Garland charged with probing how classified documents ended up at Mr Biden’s home in Delaware and former office in Washington.

Mr Hur did not recommend that Mr Biden face criminal charges, citing what he described as significant “mitigating factors” which led him to state that charges were not warranted and would not have been warranted even if Mr Biden were not president and barred from being prosecuted by Department of Justice policy.

The Republican prosecutor also noted that Mr Biden’s memory about the documents was “significantly limited” during his interviews with investigators, and included details in the report about Mr Biden’s presentation during interviews which appeared tailor-made to fit claims by former president Donald Trump and his allies that the president is not mentally competent.

At one point, he claimed that Mr Biden did not remember what year his late son, Beau Biden, had died from brain cancer, and he described part of an interview in which the president, in his telling, had trouble keeping track of the years during which he served as vice president.

Mr Biden’s took umbrage at the suggestion, raising his voice in anger.

“There’s even referenced that I don’t remember when my son died — how the hell dare he raise that?” he said.

President Biden mixes up Mexico and Egypt while addressing hostage situation

“Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, it wasn’t any of their damn business!”

The president pointed out that he still wears a rosary which belonged to his late son on his wrist, and attends a yearly memorial service to mark the anniversary of his death.

“I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away,” he added.

Mr Biden explained that he’d taken time to sit for interviews with prosecutors and investigators just days after the 7 October terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas militants, and criticised Mr Hur for going beyond his brief in the report.

“Their task was to make a decision about whether to move forward with charges in this case ... and they decided not to move forward,” he said.

As for what he described as Mr Hur’s “extraneous commentary,” Mr Biden said the former Trump appointee did not know what he was talking about, adding that such things had “no place” the report.

Asked about Mr Hur’s description of him as a “well meaning elderly man with a poor memory,” the 81-year-old president conceded that he is, in fact, “elderly”.

Continuing, he added: “I know what the hell I’m doing”.

However, elsewhere in his comments he mixed up Mexico and Egypt while talking about the situation in the Middle East.

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