President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on February 8, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden held a news conference on Thursday evening to respond to questions about comments made by special counsel Robert Hur about his “poor memory.”
“My memory is fine,” President Biden said amidst intense questioning from the press.
“Take a look at what I’ve done since I’ve become president.”
Mr. Hur’s 388-page report to Attorney General Merrick Garland, released on Feb. 8, concluded that President Biden would not face criminal charges for allegedly mishandling classified documents.
Yet, what captured the greatest attention within the report was the special counsel’s depiction of the president’s mental fitness. The special counsel concluded that the president was not capable of being held responsible for illegally moving classified documents, describing him as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
“I’m well-meaning; I’m an older man, and I know what the hell I’m doing,” President Biden responded. “I’ve been president, and I put this country back on its feet. I don’t need his recommendation.”
The president said that the special counsel’s task was to determine if he should be charged, not make “extraneous commentary.”
“It has no place in this report,” he said.
“In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden’s memory was worse,” the special counsel report stated. “He did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended … and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began.”
“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.”
President Biden became emotional when addressing the report’s statements about his recollection of when his son died.
“How in the hell dare he raise that?” he said. “Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself it was none of their damn business.”
Earlier, the president welcomed the special counsel’s decision not to pursue charges in his classified documents probe, saying he would continue to focus on his job as president.
“This was an exhaustive investigation going back literally more than 40 years,” President Biden said at this year’s House Democratic retreat in Leesburg, Virginia.
“Special counsel acknowledged I cooperated completely. I did not throw up any roadblocks. I sought no delays,” he said.
He added that he provided the special counsel with all necessary information, including a 5-hour in-person interview conducted over two days in October.
“I was especially pleased to see the Special Counsel made clear the stark difference between this case and Donald Trump’s,” he added.
Several “material differences” between the cases of former President Trump and President Biden are apparent, the special counsel said in his report.
“Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite,” the report said.
White House Under Pressure
The president came under scrutiny for mixing the names of world leaders.
During a press briefing earlier on Feb. 8, the White House was questioned several times about why President Biden said he talked to dead European leaders during a summit in 2021.
President Biden, in a speech on Feb. 4, confused French President Emmanuel Macron with deceased French leader François Mitterrand. He also mixed up former Chancellor Angela Merkel with deceased German leader Helmut Kohl on Feb. 7.
In response, the White House press secretary stated that people occasionally misspeak.
“This happens to all of us. It’s common,” she said on Feb. 8.
Later, while defending his memory, President Biden mixed up the leaders of Mexico and Egypt, referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the “president of Mexico.”
Biden Addresses Democratic Retreat
President Biden spoke to House Democrats on Thursday as they convened for their annual retreat to discuss policy measures and strategies for taking control of the House in November.
President Biden’s job approval ratings have tanked recently, particularly on critical policy matters such as the economy and border security.
According to a recent NBC News poll, President Biden is more than 20 points behind the Republican frontrunner, President Trump, on which candidate would better handle the economy. In addition, the incumbent president is behind his predecessor by more than 30 points when it comes to managing border security.
House Democrats, however, aren’t concerned about the president’s low approval ratings, stating that they plan to continue to praise the economy and make their case to the public directly.
President Biden has accused his predecessor of obstructing the latest Senate border security and foreign aid bill, known as the “Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act.”
“He’d rather weaponize this issue than actually solve it,” President Biden told reporters on Feb. 6.
Less than 24 hours after its release, Republicans in both the Senate and the House expressed opposition to the proposal, saying that its border provisions weren’t strong enough.
President Biden, however, continued to blame the former president for derailing the Senate agreement.
“They’re walking away at the last minute because Donald Trump called them and threatened them,” the president told his supporters on Feb. 7 during a campaign reception in New York.
“There is one existential threat, and it’s Donald Trump,” he said, adding that his predecessor would do anything to reverse his administration’s actions.
“So, that’s why I’m running, because we cannot let that happen.”