Joe Biden, 81, defended himself after the publication on Thursday February 8 of a report pointing to memory problems on his part. Several other figures from the Republican Party have for their part judged the American president unfit for his office, while he has made numerous blunders in recent days.
A report that crushes the memory of Joe Biden, a televised speech, demands for impeachment… The American president is in turmoil in the middle of an election year after the publication this Thursday, February 8, of the conclusions of a prosecutor responsible for investigating confidential documents that Joe Biden illicitly kept. The prosecutor points out in particular memory problems on the part of the head of state, who has also increased confusion in recent days.
• What does the Attorney General’s report say?
The special prosecutor charged with investigating Joe Biden’s withholding of confidential documents has decided not to recommend prosecution but describes the US president as an “elderly man with a bad memory” in its report published Thursday.
Appointed in January 2023 by Justice Minister Merrick Garland, special prosecutor Robert Hur concludes that Joe Biden “knowingly kept and disclosed classified documents after his vice-presidency while he was a private citizen.”
But he considers that “an indictment would not be justified”, considering in particular that a jury would give the benefit of the doubt to “a sympathetic, well-intentioned elderly man, with a bad memory”.
In his 388-page report, Robert Hur mentions in particular his interview with Joe Biden, 81, during which he said he noticed that “his memory had gotten worse”. “He no longer remembered when he was vice-president”, no longer knowing exactly in what year his mandate began or ended, nor exactly the year of the death of his eldest son Beau, he says. .
• How does the political class react?
These conclusions did not fail to provoke a reaction from the American political class. Expectedly, Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s main opponent for the presidential election to be held this year, denounced “a two-tier justice system”. He himself is being criminally prosecuted for having taken hundreds of confidential documents after his departure from the White House and accused of “obstruction of justice” in this matter.
“The Biden documents case is different from mine and 100 times more serious. I did nothing wrong and I cooperated much more” with investigators, he assured.
The special prosecutor, however, noted in his report the “contrast” between the attitude of the two men in their respective cases, emphasizing that according to the indictment Donald Trump ordered “third parties to destroy evidence and lie” .
Several other figures from the Republican Party have, for their part, deemed Joe Biden unfit for office due to his health. “When we do not have the faculties required to be judged (…), we certainly do not have the faculties required to be in the Oval Office,” asserted Mike Johnson, the leader of the Republican elected officials. in the House of Representatives, one of the two chambers of the United States Parliament.
“An elderly man with a bad memory doesn’t have to have the nuclear codes,” said Kevin Hern, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma.
Figures from the conservative camp have called for the implementation of the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which allows the president’s functions to be terminated if the latter is no longer able to assume them. Thus Marjorie Taylor Greene, loyal to Donald Trump, who asserts: “If Joe Biden is not capable of facing a trial, he is certainly not capable, mentally, of being president of the United States.”
• What does Joe Biden respond?
Joe Biden quickly reacted to this report during a televised speech. He emphasized the absence of prosecutions against him, unlike Donald Trump. He stressed having fully cooperated during the investigation, notably during a five-hour interview over two days with the special prosecutor and his team in October 2023, at the very beginning of the “international crisis” triggered by the attack without precedent of Palestinian Hamas in Israel from the Gaza Strip.
“I mean well, I’m an old man and I know what I’m doing, damn it. I don’t have memory problems,” he also defended himself during this speech.
“It’s even mentioned that I don’t remember when my son died. How the hell did he dare to bring that up? Honestly, when I was asked the question, I thought it wasn’t none of their business,” Joe Biden said with emotion.
“I don’t need anyone to remind me when he died,” added the head of state.
The White House legal advisor, Richard Sauber, as well as Joe Biden’s personal lawyer, Bob Bauer, welcomed in a letter annexed to the report the decision of the special prosecutor not to initiate proceedings but regretted the “inappropriate comments” which “have no place in a report from the Ministry of Justice”.
• Why is Joe Biden’s age a recurring topic?
This report comes as Joe Biden has in recent days confused French President Emmanuel Macron and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel with deceased predecessors, in this case François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl.
Then, Thursday February 8, questioned about the conflict in Gaza, he mentioned discussions on humanitarian aid with “the president of Mexico, Sissi”, meaning the Egyptian head of state,
Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. Confusions which are recurring among the American president. In 2022, for example, he addressed a Republican parliamentarian in a speech who had died two months before. He also confused Cambodia, where he was traveling in November 2022, with Colombia.
His doctor had, in a report published in February 2023, described Joe Biden as “in good health”, after in particular an “extremely detailed neurological examination”. But the age of the American president remains one of the main angles of attack for his opponents, which the report published this Thursday should fuel.