President Joe Biden “willfully” retained and disclosed highly classified materials when he was a private citizen, including documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan and other sensitive national security matters, according to a new Justice Department report. Nevertheless, Biden will face no criminal charges.
The report from Special Counsel Robert Hur, released Thursday, represents a harshly critical assessment of Biden’s handling of sensitive government materials, but also details the reasons why he should not be charged with the crime.
“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,” investigators wrote.
The findings will likely blunt his ability to forcefully condemn Donald Trump, Biden’s likely opponent in November’s presidential election, over a criminal indictment charging the former president with illegally hoarding classified records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” Hur wrote.
While the report removes legal jeopardy for the president, it is nonetheless an embarrassment for Biden.
In declining to prosecute Biden, Hur’s office also cited what it said was Biden’s “limited memory” both during his 2017 recorded conversations with a ghostwriter and in an interview with investigators last year.
White House lawyer Richard Sauber said in a statement that Biden takes classified information seriously and strives to protect it.
“We disagree with a number of inaccurate and inappropriate comments in the Special Counsel’s report. Nonetheless, the most important decision the Special Counsel made—that no charges are warranted—is firmly based on the facts and evidence,” he said.
The special counsel’s comment about Biden’s inability to “remember when he was vice president” also caused the 25th Amendment to trend on Twitter Thursday. That amendment can be invoked to remove a sitting president if he or she “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
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