“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.” – Robert Hur, special counsel
President Joe Biden is an elderly, forgetful man, writes special counsel Robert Hur, who released a report on Thursday about Biden’s retention of classified materials throughout his 36 years in the Senate and eight years as Vice President.
Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials,” that he kept in cardboard boxes in his garage in Wilmington, Del., in piles of things that contained “household detritus.” He also stored classified documents in other locations, according to the 388-page report to the Justice Department.
Among the junk in Biden’s garage were documents that “remains classified up to the Top Secret level and includes Sensitive Compartmented Information, including from compartments used to protect information concerning human intelligence sources,” the report says.
Many of the documents were marked classified documents about Afghanistan.
“These documents from fall 2009 have classification markings up to the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information level. They were found in a box in Mr. Biden’s Delaware garage that contained other materials of great personal significance to him and that he appears to have personally used and accessed.
As president and Vice President, he was entitled to have classified materials. Not as a private citizen, however.
“The best case for charges would rely on Mr. Biden’s possession of the Afghanistan documents in his Virginia home in February 2017. when he was a private citizen and when he told his ghostwriter he had just found classified material,” the report says.
The problem is, the report says, Biden can’t remember things. He can’t remember the dates when he was vice president.
“Mr. Biden’s memory was significantly limited, both during his recorded interviews with the ghostwriter in 2017, and in his interview with our office in 2023. And his cooperation with our investigation, including by reporting to the government that the Afghanistan documents were in his Delaware garage, will likelyconvince some jurors that he made an innocent mistake, rather than acting willfully-that is, with intent to break the law-as the statute requires.”
Mark Zwonitzer, who was Biden’s ghostwriter, said that Biden’s memory was “painfully slow, with Mr. Biden struggling to remember events and straining at times to read and relay his own notebook entries.”
Hur says Biden did not remember the dates he was vice president when his son Beau died, “even within several years.” Her says Biden “appeared hazy when describing the Afghanistan debate that was once so important to him.”
Hur says Biden’s legal council would “emphasize these limitations in his recall” if the case went to trial.
Given Biden’s “limited precision and recall during his interviews with his ghostwriter and with our office, jurors may hesitate to place too much evidentiary weight on a single eight-word utterance to his ghostwriter about finding classified documents in Virginia, in the absence of other, more direct evidence. We searched for such additional evidence and found it wanting. In particular, no witness, photo, e mail, text message, or any other evidence conclusively places the Afghanistan documents at the Virginia home in 2017.”
Hur was appointed by former President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland in 2017. With a shortage of evidence, he says that Biden would not be a credible witness.
“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,” the report says. “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.”