Biden says ‘my memory is fine,’ disputes special counsel’s report in national address
Published 8:46 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024
A special counsel report released Thursday found evidence that President Joe 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.
The report from special counsel Robert Hurresolves a criminal investigation that had shadowed Biden’s presidency for the last year. But its bitingly critical assessment of his handling of sensitive government records and unflattering characterizations of his memory will spark fresh questions about his competency and age that cut at voters’ most deep–seated concerns about his candidacy for re–election.
In remarks at the White House Thursday evening, Biden denied that he improperly shared classified information and angrily lashed out at Hur for questioning his mental acuity, particularly his recollection of the timing of his late son Beau’s death from cancer.
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The searing findings will almost certainly blunt his efforts to draw contrast with Donald Trump, Biden’s 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 and refusing to return them to the government. Despite abundant differences between the cases, Trump immediately seized on the special counsel report to portray himself as a victim of a “two–tiered system of justice.”
“I did not share classified information,” Biden insisted. “I did not share it with my ghostwriter.” He added he wasn’t aware how the boxes containing classified documents ended up in his garage.
And in response to Hur’s portrayal of him, Biden insisted to reporters that “My memory is fine,” and said he believes he remains the most qualified person to serve as president.
“How in the hell dare he raise that?” Biden asked, about Hur’s comments regarding his son’s death, saying he didn’t believe it was any of Hur’s business.
Biden pointedly noted that he had sat for five hours of in–person 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,” Biden said.
The investigation into 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.
Hur, in his report, said there were “several material distinctions” between the Trump and Biden cases, noting that Trump refused to return classified documents to the government and allegedly obstructed the investigation, while Biden willfully handed them over.