It was quite clear from Biden’s unannounced speech Thursday night that he was really, really, really angry about the findings of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s investigation of his mishandling of classified documents. He was angry, belligerent, defensive, and outright denied the facts presented in the report—namely those questioning his memory and highlighting how he didn’t even remember when his son Beau died.
“There’s even reference that I don’t remember when my son died,” Biden mentioned. “How in the hell dare he raise that? Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, wasn’t any of their damn business.”
Biden continued, “Let me tell you something. Some of you have commented. I wear since the day he died, every single day, the rosary he got from our lady of—” he said before trailing off as if he forgot.
Biden took questions from reporters as well, and that went horribly.
“Mr. President, for months when you were asked about your age, you would respond with the words, ‘watch me.'” began CNN’s MJ Lee. “Many American people have been watching and they have expressed concerns about your age—”
“That is your judgment!” Biden shouted, interrupting. “That is your judgment! That is not the judgment of the press!”
Yeah, it was bad. But that may have been nothing compared to how he reacted to the report in private. According to a report from the Washington Post, Biden blew up during a private retreat with House Democrats in Virginia earlier in the day.
“Capping a tumultuous afternoon, the White House scrambled to put together the address on short notice, notifying reporters just 20 minutes before it was to take place. Biden’s aides seemed taken aback by the furor caused by the report’s stark comments about his memory, saying it was ‘significantly limited’ and that he had ‘limited precision and recall,’ the report reads.
Privately, Biden was also furious about the report’s comments on his memory. During a private meeting with House Democrats at their policy retreat in Virginia earlier Thursday, Biden grew especially animated when asked how he was doing,
“How the f— could I forget the day my son died? Of course I remember everything,” he said, according two people with knowledge of his remarks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a closed-door conversation.
At his White House remarks, Biden began by stressing that the report concluded that charges were not merited, even citing specific page numbers to bolster his case.
“I was pleased to see he reached the firm conclusion that no charges should be brought against me in this case,” the president said. “This was an exhaustive investigation.”
He also highlighted a separate investigation into former president Donald Trump’s own handling of classified documents, and the differences between them — notably that Trump allegedly sought to keep the documents even when authorities asked for them back and that he, unlike Biden, now faces criminal charges.
There is no doubt that this report is going to hurt Joe Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign. Not only does it reinforce the public’s concerns about his advanced age and mental decline, but it also supports the narrative of a two-tiered justice system that throws the book at Republicans, while Democrats face no consequences for their actions.