Special counsel report questions Biden's memory
Special counsel Robert Hur is not bringing charges following his investigation into President Biden's handling of classified documents, but wrote in a report released Thursday that Biden's actions presented "serious risks to national security."
Why it matters: The report ends a year-long and sprawling investigation but also concluded that Biden "willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen."
- The Trump team will likely try to use the report's findings to try to minimize the felony charges he faces over his post-presidency handling of classified documents.
Driving the news: The report said that "Biden's memory also appeared to have significant limitations," citing his interview with the special counsel's office and recorded conversations with his ghostwriter.
- "He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died," the report said.
- "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 other side: Biden's personal counsel Bob Bauer and Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, refuted the characterizations of Biden's memory during a letter to Hur, which was included in the report.
- "We do not believe that the report's treatment of President Biden's memory is accurate or appropriate," Sauber and Bauer wrote.
- "The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a commonplace occurrence among witnesses: a lack of recall of years-old events."
What he's saying: "I cooperated completely, threw up no roadblocks, and sought no delays," Biden said of the investigation in a statement Thursday.
- "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."
Zoom in: The report included detailed photos of the documents, which included some marked as "top secret/sensitive compartmented information" and related to foreign policy in Afghanistan.
- One of the folders of classified documents included more than 200 pages "related to the fall 2009 Afghanistan policy review, with a date range from approximately August through October 2009," per the report.
Zoom out: Trump, who resisted the government's efforts to retrieve the classified documents, was charged with 40 criminal counts, including obstruction of justice and willful retention of national defense information.
- Trump's indictment included photos of the former president storing the documents in various locations around Mar-a-Lago, including in a bathroom.
- The former president and GOP frontrunner faces 91 criminal counts across four different cases.
The big picture: Hur, a former U.S. attorney nominated by Trump, was appointed in January of 2023 to investigate after Obama-era classified documents were discovered in a private office and at Biden's garage at his home in Delaware.
- Garland said at the time that Hur's appointment was indicative of the department's "commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters."
- Hur led a year-long probe into Biden's handling of classified documents, including interviewing dozens of witnesses.
- The special counsel interviewed Biden for two days in October in a sign that the investigation was nearing its end.