The 345-page special counsel's report portrays Biden, 81, as someone who secretly kept notebooks and documents in his home, and had difficulty remembering important dates in his life. Republicans quickly seized on that harsh characterization to attack Democrats as unfit for office.
Special Counsel Robert K. Harr's statement also said Biden doesn't remember the year his son Beau died of cancer.
“How in the hell does he wake up,” the angry president told reporters summoned to the White House Thursday evening. “It's none of their bad business. … I don't need anybody to remind me when he died.
In an exchange with reporters that deflected from questions about possible national security crimes to the president's mental health over the U.S. response to the war in the Middle East, Biden insisted he had not improperly shared classified information with anyone and was fit to run for president. for re-election.
“I know what I'm doing,” he declared.
how, A White House interviewer of the president found evidence that Biden “deliberately retained and disclosed classified material to his ghostwriter while he was a private citizen.” The special counsel concluded, however, that the evidence “does not establish Mr. Biden's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” At the news conference, Biden denied releasing restricted information, saying he was careful to avoid any salient points when sharing his notes.
Prosecuting Biden is “unnecessary” based on a number of factors that would make it difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he broke the law, Harin's report concluded.
Among the issues examined by investigators is why Biden first told his ghostwriter in 2017 that he had classified information, but did not disclose it to authorities.
Ultimately, the report said, a jury would find Biden to be a sympathetic person and “a well-intentioned, well-meaning, elderly man.” Prosecutors suggested that Biden should not have been attacked after his term as vice president ended, as he was known to have kept classified documents.
Hurz reports, “It's difficult to convince a jury that they're guilty — and a former president in his eighties by then — for a serious crime that requires a deliberate state of mind.”
Hurr's team wrote that Biden's case is markedly different from that of former President Donald Trump, who was sued for retaining classified documents — Biden promptly returned the documents when asked, while Trump declined multiple opportunities to do so.
Read the full special counsel's report on President Biden's classified documents
Richard Saber, Biden's lawyer in the case over the documents, said he was pleased the investigation ended without charges, stressing in a statement that the president had “fully cooperated from day one.” Saber said every administration ends up with packing mistakes involving paperwork, and Biden's is no different.
Saber, however, criticized Huray for “several false and inappropriate comments” in the report. “However, the most important decision taken by the special counsel – that no charges are warranted – is firmly based on the facts and evidence,” he said.
In a response included in the report, “the report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a common phenomenon among witnesses: the inability to recall events that are years old.”
The special counsel's team conducted 173 interviews with 147 witnesses, including Biden, and collected millions of documents to compile the report. They said Biden cooperated with investigators and consented to multiple searches of his properties.
The Judiciary has long held the principle that sitting presidents cannot be charged, indicted or prosecuted for an alleged crime. But despite department policy, officials said in a statement that they would have decided not to pursue charges Impeachment of a sitting President is permitted.
Hurr also revealed in his statement that he considered filing criminal charges against Biden's ghostwriter after learning that he had deleted audio recordings of his conversations with Biden while writing the memoir.
“The recordings had significant evidentiary value,” the report said. The ghostwriter later told the FBI what he had done, turned over his computer and hard drive, and consented to their search, during which FBI agents were able to recover all of the deleted files, although parts were missing. Separately, the ghostwriter kept verbatim transcripts of his conversations and handed them over to investigators, the report said. In the end, prosecutors concluded that evidence of obstruction would probably not lead to a conviction.
The detailed report included photos of notes Biden took during his time as vice president, showing that he organized his notecards into binders to take them with him after he left office. One binder, for example, contained notes on secret meetings and briefings Biden took during his daily briefings and lunches with President Barack Obama.
Findings His assistants knew his note-taking methods could be a problem and discussed how he should store materials properly. The special counsel's investigation did not determine what Biden's staff instructed him to do with the items. But the report also noted that Biden was an official overwhelmed with knowledge of how to store classified material. They said he knew past presidents and vice presidents kept personal diaries and notes from their time in office — and he believed his notes might be kept in his home.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Hur — a former U.S. attorney for Maryland — as special counsel in January 2023 after Biden's aides said they found items during a search of his home and office.
At the time, a separate special counsel investigation was underway into Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents — which led to 40 federal criminal charges against the former president, including willfully withholding national security secrets and obstruction of justice. Garland said the special counsel appointments are necessary because both Trump and Biden have indicated they will run for president in 2024.
Harin's report includes a discussion of the Trump case arguing that there are significant differences between the Trump and Biden cases. Among them: Trump allegedly thwarted efforts by officials to retrieve government goods on multiple occasions.
“Unlike the evidence implicating Mr. Biden, the allegations in Mr. Trump's indictment, if proven, would present serious aggravating factors,” the report continued. Among the most notable: “After being given multiple opportunities to turn over classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite.”
The Republican front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination said Trump doesn't blame Biden It was evidence of a two-tiered justice system that treated him worse than his Democratic rivals.
“I did nothing wrong, I just cooperated more,” Trump said. Even as he ran for office, he often complained that the judiciary was engaging in election interference against him by pursuing criminal charges against him.
Harr's report portrayed Biden as well-intentioned, sometimes hapless and forgetful, a man with decades of access to classified material. In government. The special counsel noted that Biden's 2017 memoir ultimately contained no classified information.
In their interviews with the president, lawyers said Biden sometimes struggled to recall basic facts about his career and his life — an explanation that goes to the heart of the polls, his most important political responsibility, voter sentiment. Too old for his office.
“He couldn't remember when he was vice president, forgot on the first day of the interview after his term ended ('It was 2013 – when was I vice president?'), and forgot on the second day of the interview when his term began ('In 2009, was I still vice president?' '),” the statement said.
The report described Biden as not remembering “even in years” when his son Beau died. It is He said his memory is “hazy” in even describing the discussion about Afghanistan, which “was once very important to him.” Biden noted that he had agreed to an interview for hours in early October, even while dealing with the international crisis sparked by the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.
Other details in the report add to the portrait of an older, less depressed president. Jurors, Harr wrote, “may ultimately be struck by where the Afghan documents were found in Mr. Biden's Delaware home: in a badly damaged box in the garage, next to a collapsed dog crate, a dog bed, a Zappos box, an empty bucket, a broken lamp covered in duct tape, potting soil and artificial Firewood.”
In an early sign of how Republicans will use the report against Biden, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Rona McDaniel said the report proved Biden had a “mental breakdown” that was “sad and dangerous.”
“Putting a 'sympathetic,' 'elderly' man back in the Oval Office reliving major events of his own life will undoubtedly make America insecure,” he said.
Prosecutors concluded that Biden He kept some of the classified material because he believed he was an important figure in American history and because that history should reflect his opposition to sending more troops to Afghanistan in 2009. The report said Biden “always believed that history would prove him right.”
Some classified documents are classified as “Top Secret/Sensitive Information,” a category reserved for particularly sensitive material. They include documents related to Afghanistan, including a 2009 memo he sent to Obama, the report said, “as a last-ditch effort to persuade him not to send more troops to Afghanistan.”
In a taped conversation with his ghostwriter in early 2017, shortly after his term as vice president ended, Biden said he “found all the classified stuff down.” At the time, Biden was living in a rented house in Virginia.
John Wagner and Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.