Hur said Biden has “significant” memory problems.
Mr. Hur listed various reasons that a jury might reasonably doubt that Mr. Biden had “willfully” retained classified documents after leaving the Obama White House, including that Mr. Biden had reported the problem and invited investigators to search his home. But Mr. Hur cited another reason with potentially explosive political implications for the 81-year-old president as he seeks re-election: that he has memory problems.
Mr. Hur wrote that Mr. Biden’s memory “appeared to have significant limitations.” The special counsel portrayed Mr. Biden’s recorded conversations with his ghostwriter in 2017 as “often painfully slow, with Mr. Biden struggling to remember events.” And, the report said, his recollection “was worse” in his interview with Mr. Hur in October, when Mr. Biden came off, he said, “as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
Specifically, the report quoted Mr. Biden saying on the first day of the interview, “if it was 2013 — when did I stop being vice president?” On the second day, the report recounted, Mr. Biden seemed to forget when his term began and ended, asking, “in 2009, am I still vice president?”
It said Mr. Biden “did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died” and mistakenly said that in the debate over sending more troops to Afghanistan, he had differed with a general who in fact had been an ally in that dispute.
In a letter appended to the report, a White House lawyer and a personal lawyer to Mr. Biden, Richard Sauber and Bob Bauer, disputed Mr. Hur’s characterizations. They noted that the five-hour interview had taken place in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, after Mr. Biden had spent hours talking to foreign heads of state. The lawyers called the prosecutor’s observations inaccurate, and gratuitous for a report finding insufficient evidence to bring charges.