Headline RoundupFebruary 8th, 2024

Special Counsel Declines to Charge Biden in Docs Probe, Cites ‘Poor Memory’

Summary from the AllSides News Team

Special counsel Robert Hur decided not to charge President Joe Biden over his handling of classified documents from his time as vice president, describing Biden as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

The Details: In a 383-page report, Hur said his team’s yearlong investigation “uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” but concluded that the evidence was insufficient to “establish Mr. Biden's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” This included Biden sharing his notebooks with a ghostwriter. Additionally, Hur wrote that Biden’s age and “significantly limited” memory might make him sympathetic to a jury.

For Context: Most of the documents in question were discovered by Biden’s attorneys at a D.C. office and at his home in Wilmington, Delaware in late 2022; an FBI search of the Delaware home uncovered 6 more documents. Classified documents came into the national spotlight in mid-2022 after the FBI seized 103 classified documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, ultimately leading special counsel Jack Smith to indict Trump for allegedly attempting to withhold documents from the National Archives.

How the Media Covered It: Coverage across the political spectrum, particularly on the right, described the report sensationally. On the right, it was “damning” and “scathing”; on the left, it was “highly unflattering” and “searing.” Right-rated outlets often emphasized Biden’s memory, sometimes featuring articles solely on that issue. Meanwhile, some left-rated sources described Republican politicians’ reactions, using words like “seized,” “pounce,” and “political ammo.”

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