Biden’s critics supercharged with particularly troubling verdict on president’s ‘limited’ memory

US

He won’t be facing charges but that’s not the big news.

The report by a Justice Department Special Counsel is pretty devastating in its assessment of the state of mind of the American president.

Over more than 200 pages, Robert Hur explains why President Joe Biden will not face charges for holding classified documents after leaving office as vice president.

Read more: Biden disclosed ‘classified materials’ but not charged after portraying himself as ‘elderly man’

Essentially, the report concludes that a conviction would be unlikely because a jury would see him as “a well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory… someone for whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt”.

“Mr Biden’s memory was significantly limited, both during his recorded interviews with the ghostwriter in 2017, and in his interview with our office in 2023… He did not remember when he was vice president…

“He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died. And his memory appeared hazy when describing the Afghanistan debate that was once so important to him.”

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For any sitting president this would be a damning portrayal. But for President Biden it’s particularly troubling. The 81-year-old is facing growing questions about his age and mental capability.

On Thursday, his spokesperson said: “Many people, elected officials… they can misspeak sometimes,” after three slip-ups over the past few days.

He confused French President Emmanuel Macron with his predecessor of three decades ago, Francois Mitterrand.

On Tuesday he couldn’t remember the name ‘Hamas’ when discussing the war in Gaza and on Wednesday he confused former German chancellor Angela Merkel with one of her predecessors Helmut Kohl.

This report will increase concerns from his own side about his fitness for office and will supercharge the critics on the other side.

Responding to the Hur report, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, and Bob Bauer, Biden’s personal counsel said: “We do not believe that the report’s treatment of President Biden’s memory is accurate or appropriate…

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

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