Feb 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden allies defend president's mental agility after special counsel report

Up-close image of President Biden

President Biden speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 8. Photo: Samuel Corum/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Several allies of President Biden defended his mental agility over the weekend after a special counsel report described him as an "elderly man with a poor memory."

Why it matters: The report from special counsel Robert Hur has fueled fire among voters who are concerned about his age and mental state as the 81-year-old would be 86 at the end of a potential second term.

  • The report did not recommend any charges over the president's handling of classified documents, though some Biden aides fretted before its release that it would be damaging, regardless.

Catch up quick: Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out about the report last week.

  • "I've been president and I put this country back on its feet, I don't need his recommendation," Biden said on Thursday.
  • "I'm well meaning, and I'm an elderly man, and I know what the hell I'm doing," he added.
  • On Friday, Harris called the special counsel's report "clearly politically motivated" while praising Biden for how "on top of it all" he was in responding to the Israel-Hamas war.

Alejandro Mayorkas

  • On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he has not seen anything that has made him question or be concerned about Biden's mental faculties.
  • Mayorkas told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the special counsel "made a conclusion that there is no case, case closed, then made gratuitous, unnecessary, and inaccurate personal remarks and those are improper."
  • "The most difficult part about a meeting with President Biden is preparing for it because he is sharp, intensely probing, and detail-oriented, and focused," Mayorkas said.

Mitch Landrieu

  • Mitch Landrieu, national co-chair of the Biden campaign, also defended the president, saying Sunday on "Meet the Press" that "this guy's tough, he's smart, he's on his game."
  • "And as Secretary Mayorkas said a minute ago, 'When you go on to brief the president, you better have your big boy pants on.' And this kind of sense that he's not ready for this job is just a bucket of BS that's so deep, your boots will get stuck in it," he added.

Bob Bauer

  • Bob Bauer, Biden's personal counsel, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that Biden "does not" have any memory problems.
  • "There were a couple of occasions when the special counsel, who had flagged at the beginning that sometimes he asks imprecise questions, asked questions that the president picked apart as a matter of logic," Bauer said.
  • "He showed that the question didn't have a logical underpinning. Now, everybody in the room recognized that was the case. It showed the president was listening carefully and understood precisely what was wrong with those questions. I didn't come away from the special counsel's failure to ask precise questions and think to myself, 'He has mental acuity problems.' I just thought, 'He was asking bad questions.'"

Worth noting: An NBC poll from last week found a combined 76% of voters marked Biden as "not having the necessary mental and physical health to be president for a second term" as either major or moderate concerns.

Go deeper: Special counsel report questions Biden's memory

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