- The special counsel’s report cleared Biden of his handling of classified documents.
- But the report also calls into question the president’s memory — a deterrent for voters.
- It’s a tired reminder to voters: They’re stuck with two 2,024 candidates they don’t want to see.
The 2024 presidential election offers voters two primary choices: a 77-year-old man accused of 91 felonies (he denies any wrongdoing) and an 81-year-old man accused of memory problems by special counsel Robert K. Hur. .
On Thursday, Hur announced that prosecutors would not file charges related to the president’s handling of classified documents. Good news for President Joe Biden.
The bad news for Biden: The report cast doubt on his mental acuity and put voters’ biggest concerns about Biden ahead of the race.
Special counsel Hur’s report contains allegations that Biden forgot what year he was vice president or when his son Beau died during interviews with prosecutors.
Biden denied forgetting the year of his son’s death during a fiery press conference Thursday in response to the report.
Hur wrote that part of the reason his team won’t press charges is that Biden “will likely present himself to the jury as a likable, well-intentioned, elderly person with a failing memory, as he was when we interviewed him.” adding that it would be difficult to convince a jury to charge him with “a felony requiring a voluntary state of mind.”
Biden’s age and memory have been a frequent target for opponents, mostly Republicans, who argue that the 81-year-old is unfit for a second term.
Shortly after the report was published, Donald Trump shared an article on Truth Social With a title that evokes Biden’s apparent forgetfulness in interviews.
The details, which raise concerns about Biden’s mental acuity, dig deeper into voters’ reluctant expectations for the 2024 election: a contest between two candidates they don’t really want to see.
Age and eligibility versus legal liability
Voters have already expressed fear of a second Trump-Biden matchup, with 67% of respondents to a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll saying Biden should not run for another term, compared to 57% for Trump.
Both candidates come with baggage — at least according to voters.
For Biden, voters not only don’t feel he’s doing poorly on the economy despite signs that the economy is improving, they’re also raising concerns about his age.
A recent NBC News poll found that 76% of voters, including Democrats, are very or moderately concerned about Biden’s age. The special counsel’s report and subsequent press releases at his Thursday press conference to defend the president’s mental acuity don’t help.
“It’s a nightmare,” one Democratic House member told NBC News on condition of anonymity.
For Trump, voters fear four more years as a highly divisive president.
There is also a litany of legal issues that have yet to be fully resolved. After all, voters are looking at a candidate who faces more than 90 felonies and could face prison time if convicted of more serious charges.
The same NBC News poll that showed voter concern about Biden’s age also found that 51% of voters were very concerned about Trump’s legal battles, while 10% were moderately concerned.
Political experts told Business Insider that felony charges in general are more responsible than amnesia charges.
“I would say it’s better to be oblivious than illegal,” Christian Grose, a political science professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in electoral behavior, told Business Insider.
“If I were Biden or the White House, I would compare what he’s done and what he’s cleared with the Trump dossier, it’s more detailed and extensive and it’s going to be hard to forget,” Grose said, adding when asked how Biden should respond. to the special prosecutor’s report.
Investigators found about 11,000 documents at Trump’s home and resort in Mar-a-Lago, about 300 of which were classified as classified. By comparison, Biden is accused of taking about 20 classified documents.
Trump was later indicted on 40 felony charges related to the dossier, including obstruction of justice and violating the Espionage Act for willfully withholding national defense information. He has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that as president he has declassified sensitive documents and is immune from prosecution. On Tuesday, a judge ruled that even the president could be punished.
“I think it would be overkill to talk about this report being completely damaging to Biden,” Grose said.
Aaron Dusso, associate professor of political science at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, told BI that it may not be helpful for Biden’s campaign to try to prove that he is mentally fit for the job by tapping into Trump’s criticism of his age.
“You’re basically playing the other campaign’s tune,” Dussault said, adding that Biden could bring the issue back to Trump because the former president is nearly 77 years old.
Voters also expressed concerns about Trump’s age, with about 48% of respondents in an NBC News poll saying they had great to moderate concerns.
“Both candidates are very old,” said Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a political risk advisory firm, on both X and Threads. “One is completely useless.”
The special counsel’s report raises some important questions about 2024.
“This is obviously a serious indictment of anyone who wants to be president,” Dusso said, addressing concerns about Biden’s age. “I expected his campaign to come out swinging.”