- An investigation into the alleged mishandling of classified documents has ended without charges against Joe Biden.
- The investigation was launched after Biden’s legal team found confidential documents in his think tank and personal residence.
- The US president addressed the report and told the media that he had not broken the law.
In a heated exchange with reporters at the White House on Friday, United States President Joe Biden responded to allegations that his memory and mental faculties have declined after the special counsel’s report brought them into the spotlight.
In a surprise address to the nation, Biden addressed a newly released report about his alleged mishandling of classified documents, telling reporters, “I didn’t break the law, period.”
The president also expressed outrage when he referred to a report by special counsel Robert Huron that said the 81-year-old Biden had no recollection of key events in an interview last year. Beau, and introduced as “a likable, well-intentioned, elderly man with a bad memory.”
“How the hell did he dare bring that up,” Biden said of Hur’s reference to his son’s death. “I don’t need anyone to remind me when he died.”
As he answered questions, Biden firmly shut down reporters’ questions about his ability to lead the United States.
“I’m well-intentioned, I’m an older man and I know what the hell I’m doing,” he said. “I was president – I got this country back on its feet.”
When a reporter asked if Biden could remain president, he replied, “My memory is so bad, I’ll let you [the reporter] speak”.
Previously, Biden’s lawyers said his memory lapses were not unusual for someone trying to describe events that happened years ago.
“Such comments have no place in a Justice Department report,” they wrote in comments included in Hur’s report.
After the report was released, Biden’s lawyers criticized Hur for what they said was exaggeration.
“It was clear from the beginning that criminal charges were not warranted,” said his personal attorney, Bob Bauer. “However, the special prosecutor could not refrain from investigative excess.”
What did the investigation find?
It was released Thursday (local time) after a 15-month investigation led by Hur into Biden’s taking on national security issues with him when he left the vice presidency in 2017.
Hur said he decided against filing criminal charges because Biden was complicit and it would be difficult to convict him.
Hur found that Biden took then-President Obama a handwritten memo opposing a planned troop increase in Afghanistan in 2009, as well as handwritten notes related to intelligence briefings and national security meetings.
Biden told his ghostwriter during a conversation in February 2017, a month after leaving the vice presidency, that he “just found all the classified stuff” downstairs in the home he rented in Virginia, referring to the US war documents in Afghanistan.
Hur’s report found that Biden read aloud to his ghostwriter at least three times excerpts of secret notebooks recounting meetings in the White House Situation Room.
The ghostwriter deleted audio recordings of his conversations with Biden after learning of the special counsel’s investigation, but kept the transcripts, Hur said.
Hur wrote that Biden’s actions “pose serious risks to national security, given the vulnerability of extremely sensitive information to loss or compromise to America’s adversaries.”
But he said the documents may have been taken to Biden’s home when he was vice president, when he had the authority to keep such documents.
Hur said Biden would not have faced charges even if it weren’t for the Justice Department’s longstanding policy against impeaching a sitting president.
Members of Biden’s legal team found classified documents at the offices of Biden’s Washington think tank and his personal residence in Wilmington, Delaware.
What’s next for Joe Biden?
Hur’s ruling ensures that Biden, unlike his expected 2024 presidential rival Donald Trump, will not risk prison time for mishandling sensitive government documents.
But it could cause further embarrassment for Biden as the oldest person ever to serve as US president tries to convince voters he can serve another four-year term.
Biden also tried to draw a contrast with Trump, 77, on issues of personal ethics and national security.
Biden emphasized that he cooperated with the investigation.
“I didn’t put up any roadblocks. I didn’t look for any delays,” Biden said, adding that Hur noted he had returned classified documents while “Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite.”
Trump has described the four criminal charges he faces, including one over the handling of classified documents, as politically motivated. He claimed without evidence that Biden was behind the state and federal cases.
“THIS HAS NOW APPEARED TO BE A TWO-TACK SYSTEM OF JUSTICE AND AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL SELECTIVE PROSECUTION!” Trump wrote on social networks.