Special Counsel Robert Hur’s criminal investigation into President Joe Biden documented numerous instances of Biden having serious memory problems, a top issue of concern for voters heading into the 2024 presidential election.
The report said that even though Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” prosecutors concluded that “no criminal charges are warranted in this matter.”
Although the administration and Biden’s re-election campaign did not anticipate that Biden would be charged in the investigation, they were concerned that the report would be damaging to his re-election efforts.
The report’s summation of Biden’s mental fitness will likely be highly damaging to an electorate that overwhelmingly — 76% — has concerns about the 81-year-old’s mental and physical health.
“Mr. Biden’s memory was significantly limited, both during his recorded interviews with the ghostwriter in 2017 [with whom he shared classified materials], and in his interview with our office in 2023,” the report said in its executive summary. “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.”
Prosecutors said that based on the way that Biden presents, jurors will “want to identify reasonable doubt” and that 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.”
Recordings from when Biden was interviewed by the ghostwriter in 2017 showed that even then, he was “struggling to remember events and straining at times to read and relay his own notebook entries,” the special counsel said, adding that even back then he was showing signs of “diminished faculties and faulty memory.”
“In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden’s memory was worse,” Hur said. “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,” the report continued. “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.”