Special counsel Robert Hur said he will not recommend charges against President Joe Biden for his handling of classified documents while out of office, despite finding evidence that Biden “willfully retained” materials — capping a yearlong investigation that loomed over the 2024 presidential election.
And the reason why, according to Hur, is because President Biden is an “elderly man with a poor memory.”
“We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter,” said Hur’s report. “We would conclude the same even if there was no policy against charging a sitting president. Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified information after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”
Despite this, the special counsel “uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified information after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” the report said.
“These materials included (1) marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and (2) notebooks containing Mr. Biden’s handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods.
In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden’s memory was worse. He did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended (“if it was 2013 – when did I stop being Vice President?”), and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began (“in 2009, am I still 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. Among other things, he mistakenly said he “had a real difference” of opinion with General Karl Eikenberry, when, in fact, Eikenberry was an ally whom Mr. Biden cited approvingly in his Thanksgiving memo to President Obama.Justice Dept.
Notably, Hur believed that at trial Biden could come across not only as “sympathetic,” but forgetful and not capable of the willfulness required to convict.
“We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” the report said. “It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him — by then a former president well into his eighties — of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.”
Attorneys for Biden blasted the special counsel’s characterization of the president’s memory and recollections during his two-day interview with investigators in October.
“We do not believe that the report’s treatment of President Biden’s memory is accurate or appropriate,” wrote Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, and Bob Bauer, a personal attorney for the president. “In fact, there is ample evidence from your interview that the President did well in answering your questions about years-old events over the course of five hours.”
The attorneys noted that the interviews took place in the midst of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, when Biden was busy “conducting calls with heads of state, Cabinet members, members of Congress, and meeting repeatedly with his national security team.”
“It is hardly fair to concede that the President would be asked about events years in the past, press him to give his ”best” recollections, and then fault him for his limited memory,” they wrote.
Biden, speaking Thursday afternoon in Virginia, noted the differences between his case and Trump’s, and how the special counsel in his probe had decided not to press charges.
“This matter is now closed,” Biden said.
With reporting from ABC News, a KWAM partner
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