In a stunning finding that Democrats branded a “cheap shot” by a prosecutor with Republican leanings, Hur argued that, while Biden’s actions were serious, his age and hazy memory would be unlikely to result in a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
After all, the report revealed, Biden couldn’t even remember basic details when interviewed by investigators, such as when his eldest son Beau died (something the president furiously denied) or when he was vice president to Barack Obama.
“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,” Hur wrote.
“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.”
Such findings simply reinforce what polls have long suggested. Indeed, an NBC News poll released this week found that three-quarters of voters, including half of Democrats, had concerns about Biden’s mental and physical health.
By comparison, less than half of voters had concerns about the mental and physical health of Trump, who is 77.
Understandably, the president hit back. At a hastily convened press conference at the White House about 8pm on Thursday local time, Biden lashed out at Hur for unfairly raising questions about his age and memory, pointing out that he was interviewed for two days in the immediate aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
He reiterated the fact that, unlike Trump, he returned the documents as soon as they were found in an office space and in his Delaware home, and co-operated with investigators.
And he sought to reassure the public that he was more than capable of being the leader of the free world, and was the best and most qualified person to take on Trump at the general election in November.
“I know what the hell I’m doing,” he declared. “I’m the president and I put this country back on its feet.”
But the president’s insistence that “my memory is fine” was undercut when he mistakenly referred to Egypt’s leader Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as “the president of Mexico” while answering a question about the hostage negotiations in the Israel-Hamas war.
This could have otherwise be dismissed as a slip of the tongue, and it’s worth noting that Trump himself recently mixed up former House speaker Nancy Pelosi with his Republican rival Nikki Haley, accusing Haley of failing to provide adequate security during the US Capitol riots.
In October, he mistook Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while praising Orban, who many consider a dictator, as “one of the strongest leaders anywhere in the world”.
But the gaffe comes in the same week Biden mistook two living European living leaders for dead ones: firstly François Mitterrand, the former French president who died in 1996, for French President Emmanuel Macron; and secondly when he twice referred to the late German chancellor Helmut Kohl instead of former chancellor Angela Merkel.
None of this bodes well for Biden, who arguably has an excellent pre-election story to tell: of post-pandemic economic recovery, record investment in infrastructure and solid gains for some of the most vulnerable communities in America.
But if questions persist about his age and ability to do his job, will enough voters be listening come November?
Get a note directly from our foreign correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.
- For more: Elrisala website and for social networking, you can follow us on Facebook
- Source of information and images “brisbanetimes”“