President Joe Biden addressed the nation in an impromptu White House speech Thursday evening, just hours after the report of Special Counsel Robert Hur was released.
His initial comments tracked the statements he made earlier in the day.
As you know, the special counsel released its findings today…I was pleased to see he reached a firm conclusion that no charges should be brought about me in this case. This was an exhaustive investigation, going back more than 40 years…
Biden then read portions of the report contrasting his case with Donald Trump’s, then made startling assertions that the report doesn’t say what it says.
I’ve seen headlines…about my willful retention of classified documents…. They’re just plain wrong.
There is, in fact, a shortage of evidence that I willfully retained documents related to Afghanistan.
The Special Counsel’s finding that President Biden ‘willfully retained and disclosed classified materials’ and engaged in practices that ‘present serious risks to…
— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) February 8, 2024
He then addressed the elephant in the room.
“There’s even reference that I don’t remember when my son died. How the hell dare he raise that? Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, it isn’t any of their damn business.
Biden talked more about Beau Biden’s passing, before defensively claiming:
“The matter is now closed.”
The first question was asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy; Biden replied that his memory was bad enough that he allowed Doocy to ask a question.
When asked additional questions related to the classified documents being found in his office, his home, his garage, Biden blamed his staff and became increasingly combative with the press corps. He also claimed that he did not disclose classified information, though the report plainly says he did.
The Hur report essentially concluded that charges would not be recommended because it would be difficult to convince a jury that Biden had the requisite mental state of willfulness to commit the serious felonies related to improper retention of classified documents. Hur concluded that Biden did improperly possess the classified documents, but:
“We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter. We would reach the same conclusion even if the Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.
“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 from 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.”
After the report’s release Biden’s lawyers sent a letter to Hur demanding revisions to the report, arguing that the report discussed Biden’s “limited recall of certain years-ago events…in prejudicial and inflammatory terms.” Interestingly, the lawyers did not dispute the categorization of Biden’s mental state.
The House Oversight Committee has asked for a full transcript of Biden’s five-hour interview with Hur, so they and regular Americans can make up their own minds about how mentally aware Biden is or is not. Multiple members of Congress have demanded that the 25th Amendment be invoked or that Biden face impeachment.
(This is a developing story. Additional information will be reported as it becomes available.)