Biden and his allies are waging a counteroffensive against the special counsel’s claims about his memory

President Joe Biden speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Biden and his allies are waging a counteroffensive against the special counsel’s claims about his memory

STEVE VOLKEREN, ZEKE MILLER and SEUNG MIN KIM

February 10, 2024

President Biden’s Democratic allies are launching an aggressive defense against a special counsel’s explosive claims that the 81-year-old president could not remember key milestones in his life, in an effort to diminish the significance of prosecutors’ allegations that Biden was forgetful about being sued for misuse of classified material.

Biden set the angry tone hours after special counsel Robert Hur’s report was released, dismissing the report’s conclusions about his memory and insisting he had not forgotten the year his son Beau died, as Hur claimed. Democrats on Capitol Hill and across the country quickly followed suit.

Republicans saying Biden is old is the least surprising thing in American politics, said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). It’s all they have.

Democrats plan to answer widespread questions about the president’s age and readiness by affirming Biden’s fitness to be commander in chief and trying to discredit people who portray him as weakened.

The key to that strategy is contrasting it with former President Trump, the Republican front-runner who is himself 77 and has also mixed up names and facts, while also facing four criminal charges and millions of dollars in civil judgments after being found liable was found guilty of sexual abuse. and fraud.

The signs of support are crucial for Biden as he prepares for what could be a close election against Trump.

Even before the reports were released, fears were growing that the coalition that helped elect Biden in 2020 was fraying, making it all the more important for Biden to keep as many supporters as possible firmly on his side.

The Biden campaign distributed talking points to allies obtained by the Associated Press. The points refer to Hur, a U.S. attorney during the Trump administration, as a MAGA-appointed lawyer who has no case, so he decided to praise personal attacks against the president.

The talking points also emphasized that Hur is a lawyer and not a doctor, so people should draw his legal conclusions and ignore his political views.

The White House has also noted that Biden was working with Hur, who declined to charge him with keeping classified documents. Trump is facing charges in Florida of unlawful possession of classified documents and obstruction of justice after the FBI seized documents from his Mar-a-Lago residence.

The way the president’s actions were characterized in that report could not be more factually wrong and clearly politically motivated and unnecessary, Vice President Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, said Friday.

I want to say that when it comes to the role and responsibility of a prosecutor in such a situation, we should expect that there will be a higher level of integrity than what we have seen.

The outrage spread to South Carolina, where Biden unsurprisingly scored a victory in the nation’s first Democratic primary on February 3. Some saw Biden’s strong response to the special counsel’s report as a promising sign.

I truly believe this brings out the best in the president. It shows he’s a fighter, said LaJoia Broughton, a 42-year-old small business owner in Columbia who voted for Biden in the primaries.

Biden aides say they don’t expect the president or his campaign to address the age issue more directly. They note that attacks on the president his age were also persistent four years ago, when Trump called him Sleepy Joe.

Instead, they plan to use the blueprint of the 2020 campaign, arguing that many voters do not want a repeat of Trump’s turbulent time in the White House. They also plan to highlight Biden’s achievements and an economy that continues to show strength.

The president has said that age is a fair question in the minds of voters, but if you are an independent or imitable voter in this country and you worry about your child facing gun violence while attending school, the prospect on a national abortion ban or the For the future of our democracy, you may think of the era of the president, but in the end the choice is easy, says Kate Berner, former deputy director of communications in the Biden White House. Donald Trump is on the wrong side of all these issues.

Some Democrats were not so optimistic.

This is a distraction. When you’re running a presidential campaign, you don’t like distractions, said Jim Messina, who managed former President Obama’s last campaign.

Messina compared the special counsel’s report to then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s announcement 11 days before the 2016 election that he was further investigating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails when she was Minister of Foreign Affairs. Comey’s announcement has been blamed for helping Trump defeat Clinton.

In this case, last week’s report comes nine months before Election Day, November 5

There’s just so much time to process all of this, Messina said. Trump has all the trials ahead of him. I would be surprised if this were a problem within a month.

Still, Trump’s allies were encouraged.

In addition to celebrating the release of the special counsel’s embarrassing descriptions of Biden, Trump won a new set of delegates in the Nevada caucuses on Thursday, where he ran virtually unopposed.

We all already know that Joe Biden is senile. What is lost is that Joe Biden is a criminal who has endangered American national security, Donald Trump Jr. wrote in one of several messages highlighting the new report.

Barry Goodman, a Biden fundraiser from Michigan, said he had some donors taking a wait-and-see approach to backing Biden even before the Hur report.

They wanted to see if anyone else would get in or if Trump would drop out, but no one else is getting in, Goodman said.

Of everyone I talk to, some are more excited than others.

Still, Goodman said the report did not shake his support for Biden.

Trav Robertson, former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, described the report as a clear political liability for Biden. But he turned the blame on Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland, for allowing the report to include comments on the president’s age, memory and cognitive functions.

Merrick Garland who failed to do his job only allowed a Trump appointee to fuel a political narrative to deflect from Trump, Robertson said, adding: Donald Trump can’t raise a glass of water to his lips without shaking both hands use it because it is old.

Indeed, Biden’s allies have been eager to highlight a perceived double standard, as Biden’s blunders receive far more attention than those of other leading politicians.

Trump repeatedly confused former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Republican rival Nikki Haley in a recent speech.

Biden obviously didn’t help himself by naming the Egyptian leader the president of Mexico on Thursday.

There is a clear unfairness that people feel, said Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.), a former U.S. attorney, about the focus on Biden’s blunders, criticizing the special counsel’s assessment of Biden’s mental health described as inappropriate, inappropriate and embarrassing.

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Long Beach) noted that even House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) also recently confused Iran with Israel.

Who cares? Garcia said of the blunders. The president is going to win. I have a lot of confidence in that. Most importantly, he will be taking on a criminal who has already been charged 91 times.

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