US President Joe Biden has reacted angrily to an investigation into his mishandling of top-secret files and difficulty recalling major life events.
“My memory is good,” he insisted at a surprise news conference.
He gave an emotional response to a claim that he couldn't remember when his son died: “How dare he bring it up?”
The investigation found Mr Biden had “intentionally retained and disclosed” classified files, but decided not to charge him.
Robert Hurr, the Justice Department's special counsel, determined that Mr. Biden improperly kept classified military and foreign policy documents after serving as vice president in Afghanistan.
The 345-page report, released earlier in the day, said the president's memory had “significant limitations.”
As Mr Biden tried to deflect reporters' questions about his age and mental acuity, he inadvertently referred to Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as “the president of Mexico”.
Asked for a recent comment on the Israel-Gaza war, he said: “I think you know first of all, President Sisi of Mexico doesn't want to open the gate for humanitarian supplies to come in.”
Mr Harr interviewed the 81-year-old president for five hours as part of the investigation.
A Republican special counsel appointed by Biden Attorney General Merrick Garland said Mr Biden was vice president (from 2009 to 2017) or “within several years, even when his son Beau died”. 2015).
At a news conference Thursday night, an emotional Mr. Biden lashed out at passages that cast doubt on his recollection of events.
“Obviously, when I was asked the question, I thought, 'It's not their worst job,'” he said.
“He doesn't need anyone to remind me [Beau Biden] passed away.”
As the Israel-Gaza war broke out, he said he was “pretty busy … in the middle of dealing with an international crisis” when interviewed by the special counsel from October 8-9 last year.
The investigation also revealed that Mr Biden shared some important material from handwritten notebooks with a ghostwriter for his memoir, which the president denied from the podium.
The special counsel concluded that it would be difficult to convict the president for improper handling of the files because “at trial, Mr. Biden will present him to a grand jury and, during our interview with him, he is a sympathetic, well-intentioned, elderly man. A man with a bad memory.”
Polls suggest the president's age is a concern for American voters ahead of the November White House election. But Mr Biden told reporters on Thursday that he was the most qualified candidate.
“I am well-intentioned. “Old man. I know what I'm doing. I put this country back on its feet.
“I don't need his recommendation.”
Asked if he had taken responsibility for keeping classified documents in his home, Mr Biden blamed his staff.
He said he didn't know they had placed the sensitive notes in his garage, where the special counsel says they were located next to the dog bed.
A BBC reporter in the embassy reception room at the White House described the tense situation.
When a journalist suggested that the American people were concerned about his age, Mr Biden raised his voice in response: “That's your judgement, that's your judgement.”
He insisted that his memory was “good” and “not bad” during his tenure as president.
Mr Biden's legal team also criticized the special counsel's comments about Mr Biden's apparent memory lapses.
“The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a common phenomenon among witnesses: the non-recollection of years-old events,” White House attorney Richard Saber wrote in a letter attached to the report.
The top-secret files were discovered at Mr Biden's home in Wilmington, Delaware, and in a former private office from 2022-23.
The discovery comes after former President Donald Trump, 77, was accused in a separate investigation of mishandling classified documents following his departure from the White House. He faces trial in the case in May.
The Hur report contrasted the two cases, saying Mr Biden handed over the documents to government archivists, while Mr Trump “allegedly did the opposite”.
“According to the indictment, he not only refused to return documents for months, but also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then lie about it,” the report said of Mr Trump.
In response, Mr Trump said the Justice Department attorney should quash the investigation into his classified files.
“If Special Counsel Jack Smith wants to do good for our country and help unify it, he should drop all charges against me, a political opponent of Joe Biden, and let our country heal,” the Republican White House front-runner posted on his platform. True community.
Additional reporting by Rebecca Hartman