In interviews with the special counsel investigating his handling of classified documents, President Biden had trouble recalling the years he served as vice president. He could not pinpoint, even within several years, when his son Beau had died. His memory about a crucial debate on troop levels in Afghanistan was hazy, Biden could not recall when his vice-presidential term had ended. “If it was 2013 — when did I stop being vice president?” he asked, not recalling that he left office in January 2017. Special counsel Robert Hur’s report, while concluding that criminal charges were not merited for Biden's careless handling of classified documents, painted a devastating portrait of an 81-year-old president whose age has become a central issue in his reelection campaign, saying his memory was “significantly limited” and that he had “limited precision and recall.” One reason prosecutors concluded they would have trouble pursuing a case was that a jury might see Biden as an appealing — if forgetful — senior citizen, the Washington Post reports.
“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 prosecutors wrote in their report released Thursday. “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.” Biden responded in an angry appearance at the White House on Thursday evening. “I know what the hell I’m doing,” he told reporters. He expressed particular fury at Hur for using his son’s death, which he said he remembers every single day, as a means of questioning his acuity. “I don’t need anyone to remind me of when he passed away,” Biden said in remarks that were unusually emotional. In essence, the report cleared Biden of any legal hurdles. But it opened — or reopened — a series of political questions.