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Special Counsel report describes President Biden as ‘elderly man with a poor memory’

By Jake Beardslee · February 8, 2024

In brief…

  • Special counsel report describes Biden's memory limitations but concludes no charges warranted over classified docs.
  • Report details instances of Biden unable to remember events, timeline of his vice presidency.
  • Biden's age and mental acuity have become campaign issues, though Trump has also shown lapses.
  • Voters concerned about Biden's fitness could impact Democrats' chances of retaining White House.
A special counsel report concluding no charges against President Biden over classified documents nonetheless contains language about his allegedly poor memory.  The White House/Wikimedia

The lengthy report from Special Counsel Robert Hur on President Biden’s handling of classified documents does not recommend any criminal charges. But Hur’s descriptions of the 81-year-old Biden’s faulty memory give Republicans ammunition to challenge whether he is fit for office.

The report describes Biden as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” who would likely come across that way to a jury if charged. It states Biden struggled to remember events when speaking with his memoir ghostwriter in 2017, and that “his memory was worse” when interviewed by Hur’s team.

According to the report, Biden could not recall when his vice presidency ended or began. He also apparently did not remember when his son Beau died, and was “hazy” on debates over Afghanistan.

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Hur as special counsel in January 2023 after classified documents were found at Biden’s home. Hur resigned as Maryland’s U.S. Attorney in 2021 after being appointed by Trump in 2017.

Some polls show many voters have concerns about Biden’s age and health. GOP candidate Nikki Haley has stressed the need for new leadership. If voters doubt Biden’s ability to serve, Democrats could lose the White House despite his lack of strong primary opposition.

Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term. He says voters can fairly consider his age, but should judge his record. However, he has recently confused the names of European leaders.

Trump, 77, has also shown moments of confusion on the trail. Both men’s ages could be a factor for voters weighing their fitness.