Biden special counsel interview transcript casts new light on president’s memory about son Beau’s death

Transcripts of President Joe Biden’s two-day interview with Department of Justice investigators shows Mr Biden having far more accurate recall and command of past events than was described in the report authored by Special Counsel Robert Hur.

The transcripts of the interviews, which were obtained by The Independent, were conducted on 8 and 9 October of last year at the White House, just one day after the 7 October terror attacks on Israel by Hamas.

They span 268 pages and paint a far more nuanced picture of Mr Biden’s faculties than was depicted by Mr Hur, a former Trump administration appointee who Attorney General Merrick Garland brought on as a special counsel to investigate how classified documents ended up at Mr Biden’s former Washington, DC office and his Wilmington, Delaware home.

In his report, which Mr Garland released last month, Mr Hur stated that he declined to charge Mr Biden for mishandling the documents at issue and said he did not believe a jury could be convinced to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.

But the Republican prosecutor cast the 81-year-old president in an unflattering light, painting him as unable to remember specific dates, such as when his late son, Beau Biden, passed away from brain cancer, and describing him as a “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory”.

Republicans have pounced on the allegations to bolster former president Donald Trump’s unfounded claim that Mr Biden is senile and unfit to serve, while Democrats and legal experts criticised Mr Hur for including the extraneous and derogatory information in a memorandum about a person who was not being charged with a crime.

Yet the transcript appears not to match up with how Mr Hur described Mr Biden, particularly with regard to his memory.

On the topic of Beau Biden, the president remembered the exact date of his death, with other people in the room mentioning the year.

“What month did Beau die? Oh God, May 30,” he said.

The exchange took place as Mr Biden was explaining the chronology behind his decision not to seek the presidency in 2016, the year after his son passed away.

While Mr Hur has claimed that Mr Biden did not remember that his son had died in 2015, the transcript does not show that the president could not recall the year in question.

Instead, it shows that two other people interjected with the year after Mr Biden accurately recalled the month and day of Beau’s passing.

“It was May of 2015,” said the person, whose name is not identified in the transcript.

Mr Biden replied in agreement: “It was 2015”.

His description of the president as being confused about dates appears less accurate when the full transcript of the interview is taken into account.

On multiple occasions during the two-day interview, the lines of questioning jump between years and time periods.

At one exchange, Mr Hur points to a photograph of one of Mr Biden’s notebooks related to Afghanistan.

The president reads the date, 20 April 2009.

“Was I still vice president? I was, wasn’t I? Yeah,” he said.

Mr Hur, who is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee at 10.00 am, wrapped up his work several weeks ago but arranged for his tenure at the Justice Department to officially end on Monday, the day before his appearance before the GOP-led panel.

Instead of appearing as a DOJ employee who is bound by the ethical guidelines which govern the behaviour of federal prosecutors, he will appear as a private citizen with no constraints on his testimony.

A Judiciary Committee source told The Independent that Mr Hur’s departure from government service the day before he testifies is a major red flag for Democrats on the panel.

“That makes it even more problematic from our perspective ... if he was still a federal employee, DOJ would have to approve his testimony and they’d be involved in his appearance tomorrow,” they said.