US DOJ says Biden 'mishandled' docs, rules out charges

Joe Biden "wilfully" held onto classified documents after leaving the vice presidency, a Justice Department report said. Biden pushed back at the report's claims about his competency to hold office

Joe Biden will not face criminal charges for taking classified information with him when he left the vice presidency in 2017 (photo: National Herald archives)
Joe Biden will not face criminal charges for taking classified information with him when he left the vice presidency in 2017 (photo: National Herald archives)
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US President Joe Biden "wilfully retained" classified documents after serving as vice president, but he will not face criminal charges for taking them, the US Justice Department said on Thursday.

Special Counsel Robert Hur said he decided not to pursue criminal charges because Biden cooperated with his investigation and would likely prove a sympathetic defendant at trial.

"We have 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," Hur wrote.


Biden: 'My memory is fine'

Biden said he was pleased that a special counsel concluded an investigation into his handling of classified documents without bringing charges.

"I was pleased to see they reached the conclusion I believed all along they would reach – that there would be no charges brought in this case and the matter is now closed," Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

"I cooperated completely, threw up no roadblocks, and sought no delays," the statement added.

In a fiery speech later on Thursday evening, Biden said some of the special counsel's statements about his memory and that he willfully retained any classified documents are wrong.

"There's even reference that I don't remember when my son died. How in the hell dare he raise that?" Biden told reporters at the White House, adding that "my memory is fine."

Biden also insisted he believes he is the most qualified person to serve as president.

White House objects to 'inappropriate comments'

The White House also said it was "pleased" that the special counsel's investigation was over, but objected to "inaccurate and inappropriate comments."

"We disagree with a number of inaccurate and inappropriate comments in the Special Counsel's report," Biden's White House lawyer, Richard Sauber, said in a statement.

Hur's conclusion ensures that Biden will not risk jail time for mishandling sensitive government documents. But it could cause further embarrassment for the 81-year-old Biden as he tries to convince voters that he is not too old to serve another four-year term.

Republicans lambast Biden

Meanwhile, Republicans reacted sharply to the suggestion that Biden is not being indicted because he is an "elderly man with a poor memory."

Alabama Congressman Barry Moore chimed in: "Our enemies are laughing with delight."

South Carolina Congressman Ralph Norman, who is supporting Nikki Haley for president this year, said: "Not exactly a glowing description of the president of the United States."

Mike Johnson, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, declared Joe Biden "unfit" for office. "A man too incapable of being held accountable for mishandling classified information is certainly unfit for the Oval Office," said  Johnson, a close ally of Biden's likely November election challenger Donald Trump.

It's unclear if Johnson will make a similar statement denouncing former President Donald Trump for his alleged mishandling of classified documents. Unlike Biden, prosecutors did bring changes against Trump for keeping classified files as well as for obstructing the government's efforts to retrieve them. Despite obvious differences between the two cases, Trump called himself a victim of a "two-tiered system of justice" as he faced charges while Biden did not. 

The case against Trump is set to be heard in May. 

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Published: 09 Feb 2024, 9:02 AM
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