Biden strikes defiant tone about special counsel report

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden forcefully defended himself against charges that he suffers from memory loss, delivering remarks Thursday night in response to special counsel Robert Hur’s report on his handling of classified information.

Hur’s report included characterizations of the president’s memory, saying that 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.”

The report also said that he had trouble remembering the timing of his son Beau’s death.

“How in the hell dare he raise that,” Biden said.

He also said: “My memory’s fine.”

Later in his remarks, Biden mistakenly referred to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as the president of Mexico. The flub took place when Biden was answering a question about the Israel-Hamas war.

Biden also reiterated the distinction the report made between his handling of classified documents compared with former President Donald Trump’s. The president pointed to his cooperation with Hur’s investigation.

In response to a reporter’s question about what he would have done differently, Biden talked about the importance of overseeing the transfer of materials.

Biden’s appearance come hours after Hur released his report into the president’s handling of classified documents. Hur declined to prosecute the president, but found that the president “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”

Biden briefly addressed the report earlier Thursday during a pre-announced speech, saying that he was “especially pleased” that Hur’s report “made clear the stark differences between this case and Donald Trump.”

The report also threw doubt on whether a jury would convict the president, if Hur decided to bring charges.

“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. Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone for whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt,” 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.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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