The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that President Joe Biden will not face criminal charges for mishandling classified documents despite “willfully retaining and disclosing” their contents. According to Special Counsel Robert Hur’s findings, while Biden did indeed keep national security information and other state secrets in his unsecured Delaware home, the 81-year-old president’s “significantly limited” memory would make criminal prosecution against him almost impossible.

Classified documents were found in Joe Biden’s garage in Wilmington, Delaware. (Justice Department via AP)

“Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” wrote Hur in a 300+ page report on the investigation, which Attorney General Merrick Garland launched in late 2022. Per the report, these materials included military and foreign policy documents about Afghanistan, as well as Biden’s handwritten notebooks about national security and intelligence sources and methods—all of which were stored in the garage, office, and basement of his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

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Hur and the DOJ determined that “no criminal charges are warranted in this matter,” and further insisted that “We would reach the same conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.” But in clearing Biden of wrongdoing, the Special Counsel also issued a damning indictment of the president’s mental acuity.

According to Hur’s assessment, “Mr. Biden’s memory appeared to have significant limitations” that would have made it difficult to secure a conviction. As the report states:

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. Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone for whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt. It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him — by then a former president well into his eighties — of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.

Related: Biden Says He Spoke to a Long-Dead Politician for Second Time This Week

The special counsel’s writeup also includes extensive examples of Biden’s failing memory dating as far back as 2017. Recorded interviews were described as “painfully slow, with Mr. Biden struggling to remember events and straining at times to read and relay his own notebook entries.”

During his interviews with the DOJ, Biden’s memory was even worse:

In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden’s memory was worse. He did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended (“if it was 2013 – when did I stop being Vice President?”), and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began (“in 2009, am I still Vice President?”).

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. Among other things, he mistakenly said he “had a real difference” of opinion with General Karl Eikenberry, when, in fact, Eikenberry was an ally whom Mr. Eiden cited approvingly in his Thanksgiving memo to President Obama.

Related: Joe Biden Turns 81, Staffers Launch “Bubble Wrap” Strategy to Reduce Falls

Among the report’s other findings was the fact that Biden also disclosed much of the classified information to the ghostwriter of his memoir. The writer promptly deleted recordings of these conversations upon learning about the special counsel probe, despite them containing “evidentiary value.” However, this apparently did not rise to the level of criminal obstruction.

In response to Hur’s report, the White House released a statement affirming Biden’s innocence but denouncing all mention of the president’s failing memory.

“We disagree with a number of inaccurate and inappropriate comments in the Special Counsel’s report,” said White House counsel Richard Sauber. “Nonetheless, the most important decision the Special Counsel made—that no charges are warranted—is firmly based on the facts and evidence.”

As multiple polls have indicated in the runup to the 2024 presidential election, President Biden’s age and mental acuity have become one of the biggest concerns for potential voters, with 75 percent of the public (including 50 percent of Democrats) now fearing that the elderly executive is no longer fit to hold office.

The full report from Special Counsel Robert Hur can be read below:





Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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