Special Counsel Lets Biden Off the Hook for Mishandling Classified Documents
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President Joe Biden “willfully” retained and disclosed highly classified materials when he was a private citizen, including documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan and other sensitive national security matters, according to a new Justice Department report. Nevertheless, Biden will face no criminal charges.
The report from Special Counsel Robert Hur, released Thursday, represents a harshly critical assessment of Biden’s handling of sensitive government materials. “Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen," Hur wrote.
But Hur's 345-page report also details the reasons why he should not be charged with the crime, describing the 81-year-old's memory as "hazy," "fuzzy," "faulty," and "poor," and having "significant limitations."
"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," investigators wrote.
After the report revealed that President Biden had trouble remembering key events, he fought back in a hastily called press conference Thursday night in which he attempted to dispute those descriptions.
"I'm well-meaning," said President Biden. "I'm an elderly man, and I know what the hell I'm doing. My memory is fine. I put this country back on its feet."
The President also tried to refute allegations of willfully retaining classified documents collected dating to his vice presidency – a federal crime, but one that would require a "mental state of willingness." Biden pushed back against that as well.
"Here's what he wrote," Biden said about Special Counsel Hur's report. "There is, in fact, a shortage of evidence that I willfully retain classified materials related to Afghanistan. On page 12, the special counsel also wrote for another document, 'the decision to decline criminal charges was straightforward.'"
The report said that in Biden's interview with the special counsel, he could not remember key milestones like when he started and ended his time as Vice President, or when his son, Beau died; another charge Biden strongly denied – but then he forgot a key point about a rosary Beau gave him.
"Let me tell you something. Some of you have commented on it, I wear since the day he died, every single day, the rosary he got from Our Lady of..." Biden said before trailing off.
The report will likely blunt Biden's ability to forcefully condemn 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.
Former President Trump blasted the decision not to prosecute Biden while he faces criminal charges on his handling of classified documents, saying, "Biden's case was 100 times more severe" than his, and that there's a "two-tiered system of justice."
Conservatives said the report showed what polls have also shown the public is simultaneously concerned about – that the president isn't mentally up to the job. Republican lawmakers also spoke out, with House Speaker Mike Johnson and Steve Scalise, Elise Stafanik, and Tom Emmer issuing a joint statement, saying if the President is too incapable of being held accountable, he is certainly unfit for the Oval Office.
White House lawyer Richard Sauber said in a statement that Biden takes classified information seriously and strives to protect it. "We disagree with a number of inaccurate and inappropriate comments in the Special Counsel's report. Nonetheless, the most important decision the Special Counsel made—that no charges are warranted—is firmly based on the facts and evidence," he said.
Meanwhile, the special counsel's comment about Biden's inability to "remember when he was vice president" also caused the 25th Amendment to trend on Twitter Thursday. That amendment can be invoked to remove a sitting president if he or she "is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
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