Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and other top GOP leaders in the House suggested that President Biden is “unfit” for the office after a Thursday report from special counsel Robert Hur detailed limitations of the president’s memory.
In a joint statement, Johnson, Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) charged that the special counsel’s decision to not charge the president for his handling of classified materials “exposes a two-tiered system of justice with politically motivated charges while carrying water for another amid similar allegations” — a reference to former President Trump, who has been charged by the Department of Justice for his handling of classified documents.
But the leaders went further than their typical complaints of differing treatment for Republicans.
“Among the most disturbing parts of this report is the Special Counsel’s justification for not recommending charges: namely that the President’s memory had such ‘significant limitations’ that he could not convince a jury that the President held a ‘mental state of willfulness’ that a serious felony requires,” the House Republican leadership team said.
“A man too incapable of being held accountable for mishandling classified information is certainly unfit for the Oval Office,” they added.
The House GOP leaders’ blatant questioning of Biden’s ability to serve as president shows how the report could be a gift to Republicans, even though it does not recommend charges, as the 81-year-old Biden battles voter discontent regarding his age while facing reelection this year.
Hur’s report found that while Biden “willfully” retained classified documents that ended up in an old office space at his home in Wilmington, Del., “the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In explaining the decision to not bring charges, the report from Hur, who was appointed to his post by Trump in 2017, said that his team “considered” the fact that 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.”
In one particularly brutal section of the report for Biden, the report recounted Biden’s difficulty in recalling the exact dates he started and ended his term as vice president, and how he “did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.”
Responding to the special counsel report in a letter, White House special counsel Richard Sauber and Biden’s personal counsel Bob Bauer aggressively pushed back on the characterization of Biden’s memory, arguing that discussing the impact on a possible jury of Biden’s potential testimony is unwarranted since the special counsel said that the “evidence” does not establish guilt.
“We do not believe that the report’s treatment of President Biden’s memory is accurate or appropriate. The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a commonplace occurrence among witnesses: a lack of recall of years-old events,” the letter said.
Sauber and Bauer also noted that Biden’s interview was conducted the day after the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel.
“Not only do you treat the President differently from other witnesses when discussing his limited recall of certain years-ago events, but you also do so on occasions in prejudicial and inflammatory terms,” they said.
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