But even as he sought to dispel suggestions that he might not be up for the job, he confused the presidents of Mexico and Egypt in response to a question about negotiations to release hostages held by Hamas, making exactly the kind of mistake that his staff presumably hoped he would avoid at a time when his mental acuity is being questioned.
“I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip, has been over the top,” Mr. Biden said. “I think that as you know, initially, the president of Mexico, el-Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in.” He evidently was referring to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, not Mexico.
The remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House came just hours after the special counsel, Robert K. Hur, cleared him of criminal charges in the handling of classified documents but sharply criticized his conduct and suggested that one reason he could not be prosecuted was because of his memory lapses.
In an unflattering 300-plus-page report, Mr. Hur said Mr. Biden had left the White House after his vice presidency with classified documents about Afghanistan and notebooks with handwritten entries “implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods” taken from White House briefings. Mr. Hur criticized Mr. Biden for sharing the content of the notebooks with a ghostwriter who helped him on his 2017 memoir, “Promise Me, Dad,” even though he knew some of it was classified.
But the evidence “does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Mr. Hur, a former Trump Justice Department official appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in January 2023 to lead the inquiry after classified files were found in the garage and living areas of Mr. Biden’s home in Delaware and his former office in Washington.