In a surprise live video appearance on Thursday, President Joe Biden hit back at the characterization of him as a well-meaning but forgetful old man. His appearance at a podium in the White House was in response to a special counsel report to the Department of Justice concerning Biden’s decades-long habit of storing classified documents in his garage and other places.
The report said the president could not remember important details, such as when his son Beau died or when he was Vice President.
Yet Biden fumbled badly during the press conference.
In answering a reporter’s question he confused Egyptian Head of State Abdel Fattah El-Sisi by calling him with the president of Mexico.
“As you know, initially, the president of Mexico, Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in,” Biden said, when asked about the border between Gaza and Egypt. “I talked to him. I convinced him to open the gate.”
He did not appear to realize he had confused the names of Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with El-Sisi of Egypt.
In referring to the special counsel report, Biden said, “I’m well-meaning, and I’m an elderly man, and I know what the hell I’m doing. I’ve been president, and I put this country back on its feet. I don’t need his recommendation. That’s totally out –“
A Fox News reporter asked him, “How bad is your memory? And can you continue as president?”
“My memory is so bad I let you speak,” he replied.
A reporter asked him, “Do you feel your memory has gotten worse, Mr. President?”
“No, look, my memory is not — my memory is fine. My memory — take a look at what I’ve done since I’ve become president. None of you thought I could pass any of the things I got passed. How did that happen? You know, I guess I just forgot what was going on,” Biden responded.
He also commented on the report’s allegation that he could not remember when his son died.
“The decision to decline criminal charges was straightforward. The evidence suggests that Mr. Biden did not willfully retain these documents. The evidence, he said, I did not willfully retain these documents. In addition, I know there’s some attention paid to some language in the report about my recollection of events. There’s even reference that I don’t remember when my son died.
“How in the hell dare he raise that? Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, it wasn’t any of their damn business. Let me tell you something. Some of you have commented I wear, since the day he died, every single day the rosary he got from our lady of — every Memorial Day, we hold a service remembering him, attended by friends and family and the people who loved him.”
He continued, “I don’t need anyone. I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away — or he passed away. Simple truth is I sat for five-hour interview over two days of events going back 40 years. At the same time, I was managing an international crisis. Their task was to make a decision about whether to move forward with charges in this case.”
The White House also published a written statement from Biden about the report. It says, in full:
“The Special Counsel released today its findings about its look into my handling of classified documents. I was pleased to see they reached the conclusion I believed all along they would reach – that there would be no charges brought in this case and the matter is now closed.
“This was an exhaustive investigation going back more than 40 years, even into the 1970s when I was a young Senator. I cooperated completely, threw up no roadblocks, and sought no delays. In fact, I was so determined to give the Special Counsel what they needed that I went forward with five hours of in-person interviews over two days on October 8th and 9th of last year, even though Israel had just been attacked on October 7th and I was in the middle of handling an international crisis. I just believed that’s what I owed the American people so they could know no charges would be brought and the matter closed.
“Over my career in public service, I have always worked to protect America’s security. I take these issues seriously and no one has ever questioned that.”
The Biden handlers do not put the president in front of the press corps for live press conferences often. In fact, Biden has held fewer solo news conferences with American reporters than any previous president except Reagan.
Presidents Barack Obama held 44 and Donald Trump 64 solo press conferences during their respective eight and four years in office. Biden has had a total of 14 solo press conferences in his three years, according to the American Presidency Project.